Category Archives: children’s activities (recycled materials)

Don’t Have A Sled: Make Your Own!

Home-Made Sled

Home-made ski sled ready to go!

Isn’t this sled fantastic? Patrick King of Southern Maryland made it himself from a pair of skis he said were slated for the dump. It worked really well too! They looked like they were having a blast.

Why not make your own?

Use a pair of old skis, scrap 2 x 4’s, a scrap piece of plywood and a bit of rope. Plus, padding for the seat would be a good idea.

He said he just screwed the skis to the wood from the bottom. The rest looks pretty straight forward.

I love this kind of clever thinking.

Hunting Rabbits: A Nature Adventure Involving Shooting With A Camera

This was a fun impromptu adventure my daughter and I went on.

Following Rabbit Tracks in the snow.

After seeing rabbit prints on the road, we decided to follow them into the woods.

Following Rabbit Tracks in the snow.

The tracks meandered this way and that way and around trees.

Rabbit Hiding in the woods.

We must have startled him because that’s when we noticed the rabbit dart away.

I took a picture of the rabbit standing very still. See it hiding mid picture?

Found Rabbit after following tracks.

I was able to get closer and then closer still. I took this picture. It turned out that we were tracking an Eastern cottontail. It looked just like the picture in my field guide that I referenced when I returned home.

Rabbit prints/ tracks in the snow

A rabbit’s front paw print is about the size of a grown–up’s thumb print.

Make Learning Letter Sounds Fun By Using Home-made Letter Jars

Letter Jar Game used to learn letter sounds

Using letter jars will help children with early reading skills. It’s easy to make and fun to play. Perfect for home-school-ers / or preschoolers.

 

Letter Jar objects A,B,C,D,E,F

Ideas for objects beginning with the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F.

Letter Jar Objects G,H,I,J,K

Ideas for objects beginning with the letters G, H, I, J, and K.

Letter Jar Objects L,M,N,O,

 Ideas for objects beginning with the letters L, M, N, and O.

letter jar objects P, Q, R, and S

Ideas for objects beginning with the letters P, Q, R, and S.

 Add a picture of your child. They love to be included.

Letter Jar Objects T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z

Ideas for objects beginning with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.

Introduce one jar at a time: naming the objects and pointing out the beginning sound. Explain that all the objects that start with that sounds should go together in a jar. Some of the sounds will be easy for them to learn, others more difficult. Some of the letters conveniently say their sound: like D. Some letters are harder like G because they don’t say their sound.

When he or she seems to be able to name the objects, let children test themselves by getting out two jars at a time and mixing the objects. Then they have to sort them back out. If two jars is too easy, use three.

More advanced activities:

Letter Jar Objects Ch, Th, Wh, and Sh Sounds

Some letters can make more than one sound so you can use separate jars for these if you like. Also, it can be very helpful to have a F jar and a Ph jar. It’s also helpful to have a jar for wh, sh, ch, th and other common combination sounds. Some children learn better using this kind of hands-on game.

My Children loved these jars. They would ask to use them. The little nick-knacks are so interesting.

Hot to:

Find baby food jars or plastic containers from your recycle bin. Label each container with a letter or letter combination.

Fill the containers with whatever you can find. Hunt for little things such as might be in a Piñata, given in a party favor bag, or found at the bottom of a toy box. If you have kids, chances are, you have junk toys.

*Please be aware that I’m not suggesting that you should use these with children that still put things in their mouth.

Go Ahead And Make Your Own Ice Rink: It is Easy!

learn to ice skate on your own rink

Enjoy the convenience of an ice rink in your own yard!

Learn to skate on homemade ice rink

Learn to ice skate!

I made this ice rink thanks to a rather cold spell in our area. If it’s going to be cold, we like to make the best of it!

Invite friends! I’ve collected a stash of assorted sized second- hand ice skates, knee pads, elbow pads, and helmets for my kids and their friends to use.

I wanted our rink to be small enough to be easy to set up and take down and I needed it to be made with materials I already had.

back yard Ice Skating Rink

Materials:

Salvaged 2 x 4’s, enough to go around the perimeter

Plastic (I had leftover plastic used as a moisture barrier under my house.)

Bricks or logs; used to hold the walls in place.

How to:

Find a very flat area on your property. Lay out your 2 x 4’s to make a rectangle. Size the rectangle so that it fits your plastic. Remember that the plastic needs to go up and over the 2 x 4’s. I didn’t stake the sides or even use hardware to attach the boards to each other. I just lined the boards up end to end. Then I placed the plastic over; pulling it very flat. Next I placed other scrap pieces of 2 x 4’s where ever there was a point where two boards were meeting up. I used logs to secure in place. All that was left was to add water and nature did the rest. When the weather warms up again, gather the boards and folded up the plastic and store for future fun.

If you are looking to make a big ice rink: I found this site recently and thought it had a lot of good tips.

Finding Salamanders for Fun and Study: Where to Look and How To Handle For Your Safety And Theirs

Northern Two Lined Salamander

Lungless salamanders, like the one above, breathe through the mucous membrane in their mouth and throat and through their skin. Moisture is especially important to lungless salamanders, because their skin must be wet in order to absorb oxygen. These animals like to stay protected but may venture out when the air is very humid. I guess that is why we found him out on that drizzly day.

Northern Two Lined Salamander

Northern two-lined salamander found not too far from my house. Isn’t it cute?

Here is an activity to get the kids outside. Take them on a fun salamander hunt. Your kids probably won’t need much convincing but you can get them excited by telling them a few cool facts about salamanders.

1. Salamanders can drop off their tails to escape predators. This is called tail autotomy. The disconnected tale wiggles around and provides a distraction so the salamander can escape.

2. Salamanders can grow back a missing tail! It can also re-grow a missing leg!!

3. Salamanders regularly shed the outer layer of their skin (the epidermis) as they grow, and then eat it.

4. The skin of salamanders secretes mucus, which helps keep the animal moist when not in the water.

5. Salamanders can secrete poison from glands in their skin in order to be an undesirable meal. (more about that below)

Where to look for salamanders

Because a salamander’s skin must stay moist, look for adult salamanders in places where the earth is damp such as: under leaves, under logs, or near a wetland (stream, pond, swamp, marsh). If you do look under logs, be sure to replace the log back the way you found it being careful not to squish any living organism in the process.

Because salamanders are nocturnal (which means they are active mostly at night), you might also try hunting at night.

Perhaps you have come across one while doing yard work, working in your garden or while hiking through the woods.

Northern Two Lined Salamander on my finger

Most salamanders have four toes on their front legs and five on their rear legs. This guy has 5 toes on its back legs; they are just hard to see in this photo.

Be kind to these little critters:

Handling suggestions for salamanders

Make sure you wash your hands before and after touching a salamander (or any amphibian). Wash your hands beforehand to remove any moisturizing lotion, suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap residue, or toxins from other amphibians. Salamanders are very sensitive to such things.

Handling should be kept to a minimum. When I show salamanders to children, I like to let the salamander walk on my hand rather than me “holding it”. You don’t want to squeeze any part of its delicate body.

Salamanders need to be kept cool. Also, they shouldn’t be left out in the sun because their skin will dry out. Mist its skin as necessary.

Never hold a salamander by its tail; it can break off. Although it can grow it back, it’s better for it not to have to.

Protect yourself:

Always wash your hands after handling amphibians because they have glands in their skin that secrete chemicals. (Salamanders, frogs, toads and newts are amphibians.)

Some of these chemicals are very nasty tasting. Your dog or cat may have discovered this. (That guy just didn’t want to be eaten.)

Some chemicals may cause skin or eye irritation. Don’t take any chances, wash your hands.

Some may actually kill (the poison-dart frogs of Central America).

Among the native amphibians of the United States, the two amphibians of greatest concern are giant toads (also called cane toads, marine toads, aga toads; Bufo marinus)- Common in some parts of FL. and the western newts of the genus, Taricha (found on the west coast of the U.S.).

Proper hand washing after handling should also prevent any problems with infection from Salmonella (bacteria that makes you sick).

This website http://therealowner.com/reptiles-amphibians/caring-for-salamanders/

Has good advice on how to care for your temporary “pet” once you find it.

For more information presented in a kid friendly way, check out this website:

http://www.thorp.k12.wi.us/~steinbach/limnology_oceanography/student_work/Salamanders/index.html