Category Archives: reuse glass bottles/ jars

Mossy Landscape Terrariums

Mossy landscapeTerrariums

Make your own beautiful mossy landscape terrariums. The fun is truly in the making.

Spend some time outside. Ethically harvest some moss and other small plants. Stones, shells and even small pieces of bark can look very nice in your landscape. To start, mound some potting soil or garden soil on a dish or tray of your choosing. Arrange moss to the desired effect. Add embellishments like a stone or an acorn. Cover with a glass cloche.

MossyTerrariumWOutJarEO

This one has a stone path.

I love this tree-clubmoss (Dendrolycopodium obscurum) that grows on my property!

MossyTerrariumWSnailShellEO

This one has an empty snail shell that I found in my garden.

MossyTerrariumMadeFromJugEO

I made these cloches from glass juice jugs that I cut the bottoms off. I will give instructions on that another time.

MossyTerrariumTreeClubmossEO

Remember to lift the glass and mist your mini landscape from time to time. Place in indirect sunlight.

Partridge berry Michella repens plant

I also like to use a little plant with red berries called partridge berry (Mitchella repens) and it can be found locally and grows nicely in terrariums like these. Here is what the plant looks like.

Tips to Successfully Raise Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillars Or Any Others You Can Find

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar

I think it is so much fun to find an interesting caterpillar especially one I’ve never seen before. Equally fun is seeing what it will turn into. I started raising caterpillars when my kids were small but have been doing it much more frequently in the last few years.

Here are some tips that might help you.

First you have to find a caterpillar. Go on: go out and look.

See my post: http://www.funinthemaking.net/2013/06/09/hunting-zebra-swallowtail-eggs-caterpillars/

Here is a Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar that I found and successfully raised.

You might want to know what you have found. I use -Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David Wagner.

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar with Osmeterium extended

The Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar in this picture has its osmeterium extended. It is supposed to deter predators.

It is best when you find the caterpillar munching on a leaf: that way you know exactly what to feed it. If not, you will have to identify it then do some research to find out what food to supply it. (See suggested book above or search the internet).

Spice Jar 4 Raising Caterpillars

Provide fresh food as needed. I like to place a branch or some leaves in a jar of water to keep the plant fresh.

Prevent drowning. Believe it or not, caterpillars aren’t water smart. They will walk right down a stem into a vase of water and drown. I don’t know why they just don’t walk backwards up the stem and out of the water. To prevent this tragedy, you will need to choose small necked jars and fill the opening with stems, plastic wrap or even a bit of cork. I find that spice jars work really well. Fill the holes with leaves or branches of the host plant. I’ve been able to reuse spice jars that have different sized holes. Some tops have small holes and others have larger holes. Choose what works for the plant you are providing.

Zebra Swallowtail begins to Pupate

Here it is forming it’s chrysalis.

Zebra Swallowtail Chrysalis

Zebra Swallowtail Chrysalis other side

I think the chrysalis of a Zebra Swallowtail looks like a mummified cat.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly in Cage

Here it is the day it came out of the chrysalis.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly Free

Here it is high in a tree after we set it free. I had to use a ladder to get this picture but it was worth it.

Insectabox With Luna Moth Caterpillars

Rearing box with Luna moth caterpillars.

Use a rearing cage. It is important that you keep your caterpillar friend in a cage of some sort. I’ve had caterpillars venture off somewhere in my house never to be seen again. I like to think that they metamorphosed and eventually flew away.

Recently I bought an Insectabox and love it. It is very well designed. Here is a link. http://www.insectabox.com/

Here is the link for my homemade box that I’ve used for over 10 years. http://www.funinthemaking.net/2009/07/08/myo-butterfly-metamorphosis-observatory-out-of-a-cardboard-box/

You might also be interested in this post:

http://www.funinthemaking.net/2010/08/26/raise-your-own-caterpillars-for-the-fun-of-it-fritillary-butterflies/

 

Land Snails: How To Care For Your Newly Found Pet

Teach kids how to care for the simple needs of a land snail. Locally found snails don’t cost anything to keep and don’t require a big commitment. They can be kept until the novelty wears off and then released back into the wild. Keeping a pet snail (however temporary) will give kids an opportunity to learn about it. Watch closely when they eat. You can’t see its mouth but you can see how the food is munched bit by bit. They use a radula to file bits of food into its mouth. A radula is like a tongue with teeth. Cool, I know. The land snail pictured here is interesting to watch. It has eyes at the tip of its antennas (the top pair) and the bottom pair is used for feeling and smelling. Best of all you can watch your snail slime its way around using only one muscular foot.

I live on the East coast of the United States so this is a common land snail around here.

If your snail starts to dry out, it will close itself inside its shell and wait for conditions to improve before venturing out again. This state of inactivity is called estivation. They can seal the opening with a sheet of a clear substance that looks like dried egg whites.

If you plan to keep your snail for more than a week or so, you will need to add a source of calcium to the snail’s enclosure. For this you can add a piece of plain chalk or a piece of cuttlebone.

This is Snailie the land snail. You might just find your next pet in your flower garden.

Set-up:

A glass container works well. I found this vintage jar in the woods at an old unofficial trash dump. All that remained of the dump was glass and large metal items. I thought this jar was cool so I took it home. Do they still make jars like this?

A piece of cheese cloth or breathable fabric. You don’t want your pet snail getting lost in your house.

An elastic band. Save and reuse elastic bands that come off vegetables like broccoli and asparagus.

Daily care:

Wash jar. Don’t forget to take the snail out of the jar first!

Replace damp paper towel.

Add food: a leaf of lettuce (not iceberg), a piece of your apple core, spinach, carrot, or a raw potato slice. You are sure to find some yummy vegetable scraps left-over from dinner preparation. The food scraps shouldn’t be rotten however. Take out any food that gets moldy.

Keep your snail out of direct sunlight. You don’t want it to get too hot or dry.

As a child I had a vivarium set up with plants and a pet snail or two. If you choose to set up a vivarium (terrarium), make sure you choose plants that like a moist environment. Also add potting soil, plants, a log and some dried leaves to mimic it’s natural environment. Keep the soil damp.

Note: avoid chlorinated water, avoid washing your container with soap (or at least make sure you rinse really well).

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.

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