Tag Archives: Gardening

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves… Compost!

The past two weekends have been beautiful! We even have a couple more days that are supposed to be wonderful.  People are out and shaping their beds up, or perhaps more like “turning the sheets down” so their gardens may go to sleep.

This is the first year that I have had to get rid of HUGE quantities of leaves.  I really am not over exaggerating! I mean BIG! So big I used the largest kiddie pool you can get… You know the one with the steps and hand rail. I filled that thing up eight times, and that was only the back yard.

DSC_5308So what are some of the fun things that you can do with leaves and kids? There is the obvious, like running, jumping, and scrunching them.  Which was exactly what we did, but what about a science project!

What Leaves Can Do

Leaves are a wonderful source for gardeners, and as long as you have leaf bearing trees that are in the ground and producing leaves each year, consider them a part of your team! Leaves are an organic resource, and make a wonderful mulch for your garden.  Each year they are pulling up minerals from your soil, which in turn, when you use them in your garden they feed earthworms and little microbes in the dirt.  Leaves help to break up heavy soils, and retain moisture in sandy soil.  They also helps to balance nitrogen in your compost pile. They also are handy for the plants you have in your garden whose roots may need a little protection from the cold winter.

compost_in_binsMany gardener’s or Green Thumbs love this time of year to get a jump start for their gardens next year.  They usually have a pile or bin that they have grass clippings, leaves, dirt, coffee grinds, as well as fruit and veggie scraps that they’ve been setting aside during the year.  They will spend the winter going out and turning it over from time to time, to help the contents break up more easily. When spring rolls around they will have a pile of incredible compost to use for their garden.

So how can kids do this? Simple, it’s like cutting a recipe down for two instead of a big family.  Check out our fun project below!

DSC_5302What you’ll need!

  • 16 oz cups with holes in the bottom
  • 1 large bowl
  • Compost items: Leaves, grass clipping, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds, etc.
  • 1/4 cup soil or dirt
  • 1-2 teaspoons of water
  • plastic wrap
  • rubber band
  • large spoon
Pillbugs
Pill bugs help to eat decomposing plant materials and turn it into compost.

So go ahead and go outside and have some fun with your kids.  Find all your outdoor materials and add them to the bowl.  While doing so you might come in contact with some of natures helpers. You can also add some pieces of paper if you want.

Compost_CupWhen you have stirred all your ingredients, you can divide the contents of your bowl in the different cups. (Make sure your holes are already punched through.  Then add your saran wrap on top and then you can place your rubber band around the brim of the cub and saran, so it’s sealed.

Now find a place to put it.  Also make sure you put something underneath, since there are holes.  It will need a spot where it gets sun and shade.  Add 1 teaspoon of water periodically, and after doing so, give it a little bit of a shake.  Both the water and movement will help the materials inside it break down and turn into compost!

What does the sun and shade do?

Bacteria and fungi love the heat, and they are also what helps to break down all the materials you threw in the cup.  Whereas the shade will help to cool down the compost so the moisture won’t all escape.

Now that your compost cups are all ready, it’s time to keep and eye on them and watch what happens.

wormsWhat do worms do?

Worms are actually called an organism, and they eat the leaves, grass, and any other decomposing material. When they do so, they actually are producing compost too. Now for this project, you won’t need to add them, but in big compost bins, these little critters are a huge tool in breaking down the leaves, grass, or whatever else is in the compost bin. Worms are not the only all stars in the dirt however, pill bugs or what I like to call “rolly polly’s” also help.  Along with many other bugs!

What do you do with the compost?

After the ingredients you have made have turned into compost (which may take several weeks), it should look dark, crumble easily, and look like soil. You can now add it to your garden.

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Making a large compost bin.

For more articles on composting as well as how to make a large compost bin, visit our Pinterest Board Fun in The Garden.

Happy composting Discover! Friends!

 

Pillbugs

It’s Pumpkin Time

Have you been to the pumpkin patch yet this year!  Some may be saying yes, or you may have had some keepers in your very own garden, or perhaps you were given some from somebody.  All of which leads to one very fun event!  Pumpkin carving!  We thought we would create a fun board on Pinterest that is full of pumpkin fun!

Come check them out by clicking on the green link below!

Halloween Pumpkin Fun

Here are some pumpkin patches too, in case you are still looking for a place to pick that BIG pumpkin!

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The BIG one at WillyTees Pumpkin Patch

WillyTee’s Pumkin Patch ~ 3415 Jackson Hwy. Chehalis, Washington 98532. Open from 10 am-6:30 pm Monday through Sunday.  (360)880-5411

 

WillyTees
Get a free Caricature to remember your visit

At WillyTee’s the kids will have fun going through the fields to find the perfect pumpkin.  They will be able to explore a fun farm where they have face cuts out and even several spots set up for you to take some fun fall photos.  Plus Moms… there is a wonderful area that is full of holiday decor that you can’t help but want.  You also get to leave with a special souvenir to remember your visit with, a custom caricture made just for you… for FREE! The staff is awesome and the prices are family friendly.

 

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These adorable minions welcome you on arrival
The Pumpkin Patch~ 518 Goodric Centralia, Washington 98531. Open from 10 am-6:30 pm Monday through Sunday. (360)736-8603 or (360)269-1783

At the Pumpkin Patch, your kiddo will find a pumkin and also be able to explore the grounds.  There are many fun face cutouts, huge hay bale art, corn maze, straw pit, and a few animals that they can check out.  A hay ride is available, which gives you a tour of the fields.  At the front of the farm, you will find an area set up where you can purchase gourds, squash, and cranberries.  They also have some beautiful potted arrangements, that include sunflowers and winter cabbage, to spiff up  and brighten your fall arrangements on your porch.

DSC_0077506Parkerosa Farms Pumkin Patch ~ 292 Chilvers Rd. Chehalis, Washington 98532. Open from 2 pm-6:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 9am-6pm Friday through Sunday. (360)269-2861

DSC_0082511
One of the little critters from a few years back

Parkerosa offers a field of a variety of different pumpkins.  There is a petting zoo, corn trails, and refreshments available.  There is also a wagon ride that give you a tour of the Parkerosa farms, where you will see some themed buildings to spark the imaginations of your little ones.  There is also some holiday and rustic themed decor available in their gift store too!

 

Flannery Publications
Area pumpkin patch open and ready for the Halloween season ~ Flannery Publications

Story Book Farms Pumpkin Patch5050 Jackson Hwy, Toledo, WA 98951. Open Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm.  (360)864-4388.  

Rows upon rows of pumpkins are available for you to choose. Story Book also offers a hay ride, bounce house, and games.

Please feel free to suggest more local pumpkin patches as well as pictures.  Also we’d love to see your carved pumpkins.  Send us some pictures!

We hope you have a fun time celebrating this spooky time as well as fall harvest with your kiddos!  Happy carving time Discover! Families!

 

 

Bees Buzzing in the Breeze

DSC_3393Honey Bees, the awesome little critters that keep many plants on this earth growing.  What would we do without these little wonders…  It is certainly not something we want to ever happen, therefore there are thousands of people that have become assistants to these incredible creatures.  We had the opportunity to meet one such family, that we are sure many of our Discover! friends may know… The Boyd Family! DSC_3349During our visit the Boyds had eighteen hives started.  The number can fluctuate depending on the queen and the strength of the hive.  By fall, many hives are combined in order to increase their chances of surviving throughout the winter.  After suiting up, we visited a large hive first.  After using the smoker to take a peak inside, Brandon’s first tid bit of information became very apparent!  “Honey bees are called social animals because they live in colonies and rely on each other.” Within the hive, there is a division of labor among the various kinds of bees in the colony.  A colony can include a queen, drones, and worker bees.

Brandon placed a little yellow mark on the back of this queen so she could be more easily spotted.
Brandon placed a little yellow mark on the back of this queen so she could be more easily spotted.

The Queen

The Queen is the only bee in the hive that is sexually developed.  She is the largest, and can be recognized by here elongated abdomen. She lives longer than all the bees in the hive.  Some say she can live years and years, but she is most productive the first two years of her life.

On the far right, you can see the undeveloped heads of two drones.  There cells stick our further than the rest of the larvae cells.
On the far right, you can see the undeveloped heads of two drones. There cells stick out further than the rest of the larvae cells.

 

 

The Drones

The Drones are the male bees in the hive.  Their job is leave the hive and to mate with a queen from another hive.  They do not collect food or pollen, nor do they tend the babies.  Sadly, in the winter time they are often kicked out of the hive because resources are scarce.

DSC_3392
Here you can see the girls busy at work. See all that honey!

The  Busy Workers

Workers are all girls!  In a colony there could be as many as 50,000 to 60,000 bees! Worker bees pretty much work themselves to death.  In the beginning of their lives they are nurse bees, then they graduate to field and scout bees.  They also protect the hive and make comb.  They are very busy, and live only about a month or less.  In the winter, they can live longer. 

Bee Facts

The worker bees keep the hive at a steady temperature all year round with their wing flaps.  They would like it to be 92-93 degrees.

Here is a worker bee arriving back to the hive with her legs covered in pollen
Here is a worker bee arriving back to the hive with her legs covered in pollen

Honey bees fly in a radius of about 3-5 miles from their homes to forage for flowers and food. Bees gather both nectar and pollen from flowers and trees. They bring the nectar back to the hive and regurgitate the nectar into a honey cell.  Then through flapping their wings, the bees evaporate some of the liquid in the nectar until it is honey. Then they cap it with a thin wax cover and store it for later use.

Bees use pollen, which is really sticky, and combine it with nectar to make bee bread.  They feed this bread to the baby bees.

Baby bees are called a brood.

Bees preform an essential act by moving pollen and nectar from one flower to another.  They pollinate the flowers and trees which allows fruits and vegetables to be created and to grow.  A hive can make 50-200 pounds of honey a year, and it takes over 150 trips to a flower or tree to make just one teaspoon of honey.

Hope you enjoyed our first blog post about bees.  We are hoping there will be many more.  Thank you Boyd family, we will check in with you again soon!  Happy honey making Discover! friends!

Activities for Grandparents!

One of many things we loved to see happen at Discover! was watching grandparents bring in their grand kids.  Some would comment that it was a fun place to award them with during their stay, others said that they didn’t have near the amount of toys to entertain them with at home, and it was also mentioned how busy their little one’s were and they needed some extra fun!  We were happy to provide so many grandparents and their grandchildren with a fun place to play together, and we honestly feel a little guilty that we’re not open right now.  Therefore, we thought we would make up for it by doing a post about some great ways to entertain the grand kids when you have them over!

blog 1Have a Tea Party: Invite the kids to bring their best friends (stuffed animals) and dress up in their finest clothes.  Set up your china and tea cups and serve kid friendly drinks and snacks.  Some great Tea Time snack suggestions are PBJ sandwiches, veggies and dip, decorated cookies, and fruit.  The more involved they are in preparing the tea party the better.  You can have them help you prepare the table and snacks, as well as create a center piece!

119Go on a Treasure Hunt: This activity allows you to include the little ones too.  First make your treasure chest.  The sky is the limit in the materials that you use.  Look for buttons, bows, tape, paint, glitter, and wrapping paper to create a lovely masterpiece.  The kids will have a ball and remember the time they made an awesome treasure chest with Grandpa/Grandma.  Then comes the fun part, figuring out where to hide everything, and writing the clues to find each item.  After all of the treasures are collected, have the kids draw each item on an index card, then you can play a memory game with them.  They can also write down a story about each one, so the memories can be written down forever!

Get your Hands Dirty:  This was one of my favorite memories with my Grandmother.  Plant seed in pots and let them grow, when they are ready to transplant, let the kids help you pick a spot to plant them.  This will become a repetitious activity to do, each time they come over.   Little by little they’ll see what the plants are doing, and you can give each kiddo a journal to write down their observations.  The journal entries can be about how tall the plant is, what bugs they found, if it was hot or cold outside, was there any flowers, and whether or not the fruit/vegetable were ready to harvest.   If they do plant a vegetable, they can take the bounty home to mom and dad to share.  They’ll be a green thumb in no time!

Make a Jigsaw Puzzle:  Have them help you pick an image to print off, then glue it to a piece of cardboard.  You can use cardboard from a cereal box.  On the cardboard, trace out or draw puzzle piece shapes, then take an X-Acto knife and cut out each shape.  Now the kids can put it back together.

blog 2Have a FUNdue party:  Kids love this!  Melt chocolate chips and gather a bunch of yummy morsels: strawberries, bananas, pretzels, marshmallows, and whatever else would strike your fancy.   Dip in and have Fun!

 Fruit Smoothies:  The kids love these, and it taste just as good as ice cream.  All you need is to add your fruit, frozen yogurt (your choice of yogurt), and orange juice to a blender.  You can go online and see hundreds of kid friendly recipes.

Sing Like a Rock Star:  Make your own instruments and become a band.  The internet is full of ideas for making some home made instruments.  Here is a link for five simple instruments: www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Simple-Musical-Instrument

blog 3Take a Trip to the Library:  Some children aren’t exposed to this until they are in school. So take the opportunity to show them what fun it is.  Many libraries have a children’s program once a week that you can attend.  Each time a story is read and followed with a craft.   For local story time in Centralia, Chehalis, Mountain View, Packwood, Salkum, Winlock, and Morton go to this link: www.trl.org/Locations/Pages/LibraryInformation.aspx?lib=ch

During your visit, you can pick up books that you placed holds on in advance, or let the kids pick some out.  Then take the time to sit and read to them. You can read at the library or outside, either way your grand children will start to be able to have some fond memories of reading with you!

carnival-109Bubbles:  This is by far one of the funnest activities that seems to make time pass by.  You can purchase large bottles of bubble liquid at local stores, which typically come with a bubble blowing wand.  Or make your own! However, you can use different types of things to blow bubbles with.  Straws make lots of little bubbles when you blow quickly through them.  You can also use your hands by putting the soap on them, then make a circle with your thumb and pointer finger.  When a film is over the circle you just made, blow and make giant bubbles.  You can also use tennis rackets, hangers, and more too!

Some More Fun Activities!

Make: sock puppets, kites, cookies, scrapbook, works of art, or crafts.

Go out and about: picnics, visit a pet store, local parks, trails, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.  Go a little further to the ocean, the zoo, or aquarium.

I see a bear!
I see a bear!

No matter what you decide to do, the most important part is spending time with your grandchildren.  The time that you spend makes an incredible difference in your grandchild’s life.  From you they learn to enjoy different things, they observe how you interact with them and others, and ultimately make numbers of memories to last their life time.

We hope this is helpful while we are shut down temporarily, and we are excited to see you again when we open our new museum!  Happy memory making Discover! Grandparents!

 

 

 

Let it Grow! Let it GROWWWW!

 

A little kit purchased through Scholastic for $3.00
A little kit purchased through Scholastic for $3.00

This time of year, I start to get the itch to be outside.  If the temperature is slightly above chilly, and the sun is shining, I am most likely thinking of the garden outside my door.  What a miracle our earth is!  The fact that the smallest seed can turn into something beautiful, nourishing, or even help heal a wound or illness never ceases to amaze me.

The wonder doesn’t end there though!  That huge fire ball in the sky is a mystery in itself and without it, we would all cease to exist.  So today’s post is about science and the  miracle of life.  One simple seed, water, and the wonderful sun!

DSC_2401I had bought this greenhouse kit a while ago from Scholastic for a few dollars, and thought it would be a fun project for the kids and I as a little science project.  Since the weather was a little dreary, I thought it would be a perfect time to get our green house started.  There are many ways that you can do this too!  There are greenhouse kits at the local stores, but you can also do it with a milk jug,  a 1 liter bottle,  a mason jar, or even a fish bowl!

Here are many examples of ways you can make your own green, many of these things you can find in your home
Here are many examples of ways you can make your own green, many of these things you can find in your home. Image from wikiHow See link at the bottom of post.

Let’s Begin!

Kids love to be part of something big, even if it is just a little seed.   They will love to see their greenhouse come together and will want to be part of the build process! So don’t be afraid to include them by letting them do the tasks you feel most comfortable with.   When holes need to be poked in the bottom or scissors used to cut the jugs in half,  parents should preform these tasks or still supervise these steps when older children want to try do them.

TAPE!!!  Don't forget tape! It can come in handy when you don't want the greenhouse to slip out of place.
TAPE!!! Don’t forget tape! It can come in handy when you don’t want the greenhouse to slip out of place.

Tip:  We used tape to help keep our green house together.  I could see it being helpful too when putting together the 1 liter bottle or a jug, so the bottom part holding the dirt doesn’t shift around.

 

 

You can use whatever seeds you want, there is a huge variety at many stores in our area!
You can use whatever seeds you want, there is a huge variety at many stores in our area!

Bring on the Fun!

Now that you have your green house together, here comes the fun part!  Adding the dirt and the seeds!  You can use whatever kind you want.  We have Coreopsis, which are yellow and have a long bloom time.  The biggest bonus is that butterflies LOVE them!

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Now remember, it’s okay for kids to get dirty!

We added the soil (potting soil)  to each container, and then watered it down prior to adding the seeds.  Some soil is fairly moist, so you could possible skip that step.  Each seed packet will have different instructions, as to how far to put the seed into the soil.  Ours was only an 1/8″ of an inch.  Make sure to follow the directions on your seed packet for the best results.  We placed three seeds per container, and lightly pressed each seed down.  Then it was time for our little pots to settle into their green house!

Little water drops falling down the strings into each pot
Little water drops falling down the strings into each pot

Do not over water!

When the soil seems dry add a little water to your greenhouse.  Seeds like to grow in moist soil, but not soaked.  There should be no standing water,  and the holes that you poked at the bottom of your green house should let out in excess water.

When your seedling is getting to big for the greenhouse, it’s time to transplant them outside! Remember the directions on your seed packet, some plants may want full sun or partial shade.  So keep those planting tips in mind when looking for a place in your garden.  Dig a hole in the proper area and gently remove your seedling from it’s container and place it in the hole.  Cover the roots with the surrounding soil, and pat the soil gently at the top surrounding your seedling.  Continue to water the plant throughout it’s growing season so you can see how big it gets and what it turns into.  Flowers! Vegetable!  Now you just have to wait and see.  We can’t wait to see what ours become!  Happy planting Discover! Friends!

Patience is required while watching seeds grow!
Patience is required while watching seeds grow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to talk about when doing this:

Soil, water, and the sun’s light help to make seeds grow.  Just like we need food, water, light, and rest to grow as well.

Explain that the roots of the plants absorb the water, sort of like we do when we suck up water through a straw.

Talk about how plants help to make the air we breath, and this why helping take care of our earth helps to promise clean air to breath.   Check out this link for more detail on explaining plants and the air we breath.  http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/1__Plants_and_climate/-_plants_and_environment_151.html

You have to love the internet, we found a great little how to on wikiHow: 

 http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Mini-Greenhouse

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