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Monthly Archives: March 2011

What do Pollinators do With the Pollen?

I was out for a walk with Ari yesterday when we happened upon a flowering plant swarming with flying insects. We stopped to watch what I told him were ‘pollinators’, in fact we sat there for about 30 minutes talking pollination and watching the swarm of flies, bees and wasps (being a former Bee Lab employee I’m hardwired to nerd out about this stuff). In the course of our study Ari asked what the ‘pollinators’ were going to do with the pollen. Excellent question son.

There are actually 2 kinds of pollinators:

Accidental Pollinators: These are things like flies, butterflies, boy bees, beetles, wasps, etc. just come to the flower to get a drink of the sugary liquid the plants make called nectar. While they are drinking, some of the pollen gets stuck to their legs and other parts of their bodies. Then, when they go to another flower to get another drink they accidentally drop some of the pollen off and end up picking up pollen from that plant. Mixing up the pollen like this helps the flowers make seeds.

Active Pollinators: These collect pollen on purpose, most of these are girl bees. Bees come to the flowers to get a drink of nectar and also to collect pollen to feed to their babies. The mom bee brings the pollen back to her nest and mixes it with nectar to make a little pollen cake. When her baby hatches out of its egg it eats the pollen cake so it can grow into an adult bee. When bees fly around collecting pollen, they pick up and drop off pollen at different flowers, helping the flowers make seeds as well.

Minivans. The Camping Revolution?

I resisted a minivan for years. Instead I preferred to shove a kid, a dog, a weeks worth of camping/outdoor gear (and on one occasion 3 chickens) into or on top of our wagon. There was zero floor space anywhere, I couldn’t move my feet, rarely could you see out the back window, it smelled like dog breath and because we didn’t have tinted windows I once saw someone taking a photo of us with their cell phone. It was apparently a sight to behold.

I finally caved after Isaac was born. It took one road trip with an additional kid/car seat and I was done, a 2001 Toyota Sienna it was. You may be asking why not an SUV? Well, minivans are just far superior. Theeeey ummm, well, they… Ok, maybe superior isn’t the right word, how about practical? Economic?

Things I’ve learned (and trust me, this took time) to love about our minivan.

1. We paid cash for it. I wanted a Honda Pilot, which would have meant taking out a loan, which would have meant going into debt, which I’m really glad we didn’t do.

2. It’s versatile. Around town we only have the front seats in, this allows maximum child access for the driver and  plenty of room in the back for gear. On road trips we switch it up and only have the back bench in. This allows space in the middle for a cooler, a crate of food and a crate of toys/books and the bouldering pad (which is great for changing diapers, taking naps or eating lunch on road trips in the winter. Oh, or bouldering). All other non essentials are piled up in the back on our makeshift shelving system or on top in the rocket box.

3. We can sleep in it. And quite comfortably actually, unless you count the time I slept on my arm funny and couldn’t move it for 2 weeks. This configuration involves the back bench, the bouldering pad folded out and a hammock along the roof. (more…)

Webinar. Reconnecting Kids with Nature.

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GreenTeacher hosts a whole series of free webinars. I thought this one looked interesting:

Webinar topic:  “Plugged In; But Tuned Out: The Need to Reconnect with Nature”
Wednesday March 30, 2011, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. EST
Presenter:  Herb Broda

Description: In this age of alluring techno-gadgetry we need to be very cautious about maintaining a balance between indoor and outdoor activity. At a time whenchildren’s natural curiosity about the outdoors is eclipsed by the demands ofbusy schedules and the ever-present glow of video screens, schools and outdoor centers may be the only places where kids are encouraged tointeract with nature. Kids need to go outside for both learning and play—indeed there is a need for old-fashioned unstructured play in nature – the kind of invented play that “older” folks fondly recall.

I contacted the instructor to make sure it was going to be applicable for parents as much as formal educators, I received this response: I can say without hesitation that parents will find his presentation just as useful as will teachers and other youth educators. To sign up go here, or check out other webinars they’re offering this spring.

Never Give Up Spring Break

I’ve been taking a spring break for as long as I can remember, it’s something I’m pretty sure I’ll never give up. March is always the most stir crazy moth for us; it’s when it SHOULD be warm but it isn’t. Skipping spring break just isn’t an option.  Some of our favorite places to camp with our kids in March are: Anza-Borrego, Mojave National Preserve, Superstition Mountains and Parashant National Monument. This year, because it was 1/2 way between me and my sister (and her husband and two boys) we settled on another long time favorite, the Death Valley area. We didn’t have much of a plan beyond meeting up in the Alabama Hills (west of Lone Pine, CA), we just too things day by day.

Here’s the visual description of our trip.

 

And the physical description.

Day 1: Spend all day packing. Drive from Reno, NV to Lone Pine, CA at night while the kids are asleep (a good call in every respect aside from the fact that we drove past Mono Lake in the dark, so I’ve still never seen it). Listen to the audio version of Animal Farm. Find our campground/meeting spot. Sleep in the van. (more…)

How I Ended Up Sprawled Out Behind A Sled

We were out for a sled hike the other day, Isaac was being crabby and didn’t want to be in the sled, so I decided I would let Ari sled down a hill on his own. I mean he is 4, it really was time he learned to manage his own sled?

First of all, you must understand that we were coming down a trail above a popular sledding spot, on a Holiday, which also happened to be a bluebird day. The hills near the parking lot at this place were PACKED with people.

So here come Ari and I down the trail and as we get closer to the hub of sledders I notice Ari getting more speed than I had anticipated, then I looked ahead and noticed him passing a pack of hoodlums and heading in the direction of a large bush on the edge of a creek instead of the trail. I sprang into action. I ran as fast as I could after the sled and when I saw that I wasn’t going to make it I jumped as far as I could, threw my hands out in the air and landed sprawled out just in back of Ari, my fingers gripping the edge of the sled. Ari stopped about an inch from getting a face full of shrubbery. The hoodlums cheered! They waved their discount store brand snowboards and cigarets in the air, shouted curse words and clapped. It was a beautiful moment.

Pre-K Lesson Plan: The Letter S, Senses

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I’m part of a co-op preschool, me and 4 other Moms rotate once a week hosting 2 hours of madness in our homes.  A few weeks ago I got to plan a lesson around the letter S. I focused the activities around the “senses” that start with S: sight, sound and smell. We had class indoors due to a chilly morning wind, but I’m including notes on what I had planned to do outside had the weather cooperated or had I warned parents to dress their children accordingly.

This lesson centered nicely around the following two books:

Introduction Book: My Five Senses, by Aliki

SIGHT

Book: What do You do With a Tail Like This, by Steve Jenkins, Robin Page (Read the section: What do you do with Eyes Like These)
– Do we use our eyes the same way as the animals in the book?
– What do we use our eyesight for?
– Let’s go on a scavenger hunt and see how well we can use our eyes.

Activity: Scavenger Hunt
Cut out or print off  small pieces of paper with the letter S. Write clues on the back of each paper that will lead the children to find the next clue. Hand a child the first clue, follow the clues to find all the letter S’s. Note: An outdoor scavenger hunt would be perfect for this.

Materials:
-Letter S Papers
-Tape

SMELL (more…)

Mapping 101

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Sometimes a trip around the block takes some careful planning.

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    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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