Tag Archives: Science

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.

cs-boy-helping-make-bin-480
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

Kids and Kites

Windy Weather Family Activity!

Spring and wind supply an opportunity for fun with your family!  Let's Go Fly a Kite!
Spring and wind supply an opportunity for fun with your family! Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Kids and kites go together like peanut butter and jelly!  They’re a perfect match!  Since spring has officially arrived and wind is a sure thing this time of year, we think flying kites make for a perfectly fun family activity!  While you can purchase a kite (which can be a little or  a lot), it is still satisfying to make your own.  There are many kite making directions available, some that are easier than others.  We have included directions to get you started!

Gather your materials
Gather your materials

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’ll need:  You will need one piece of paper, crayons and/or markers, a ruler, a pencil,  some yarn or string, a stapler, and a hole punch.

 

Use any colors you want, and make your creation a true piece of art!
Use any colors you want, and make your creation a true piece of art!

Color to your hearts desire!  One side or both, the side that will fold in on it’s self will be the top of the wings.

Tip: You know all those coloring sheets your kids love to color on.  This project is one way you can take those coloring sheets to a whole new level!

Kite 2
measuring points A and B on the folded edge

 

 

 

 

 

Fold the paper in half.  Using a ruler, place it along the folded side of your paper, measure and mark off at 2 1/2″ (point A) and at 3 1/2″ (Point B)

Get a small piece of tape to place over the fold at point B.  Then punch a hole through the tape.  (The tape helps to reinforce the hole where you will tie your string)

Roll the corners of paper to the
Roll the corners of paper to point A. Make sure not to bend your rolled paper.

Roll the top corners together to meet at point A.  Being careful to not crease the rolled edges, staple the top corner’s to point A.  These rolled wings help to catch the air, which then helps to lift your kite up into the air.

 

 

 

Here you can see where we stapled our corners, as well as where we added a ribbon!
Here you can see where we stapled our corners, as well as where we added a ribbon!

Tie string or your through the hole at point B.

Option:  You can add a tail to your kite by taping ribbon to the bottom center edge.

You may look at it and wonder if it will really fly, but rest assured… They really do fly, even in light wind or when you run!   Happy flying Discover! Friends!

Things to talk about when doing this

Wind!  What causes it?  Why it’s all about the sun – which warms the air.  And when cool air (which is heavy) meets warm air (which is lighter)  the result is wind!  The greater the temperature difference – the greater the speed of the wind.  From a gentle afternoon breeze, to a devastating tornado – it all depends on air temperature  – which goes back to the sun.  This is why wind  is often a sign that the weather is in the process of changing.

We can have lots of fun with wind.  Our breath is the wind that blows  dandelion seeds.  Wind blows leaves off of trees in the fall, creates sand dunes, and makes tumble weeds tumble!  What other examples of wind causing things to happen can you think of?  Of course, one of the most fun things is flying kites!!

Being Careful!  Make sure you watch where you are going while running with your kite, and make sure where you are playing with your kite isn’t near any power lines.

kite 8

Did you know that each August our state hosts the Washington State International Kite Festival?  Truly, this is a treat for your eyes. Kite professionals from around the world display their passion in the air for all to see.  Take a trip to Long Beach anytime during the 3rd week of August, and you will be amazed by unimaginable color and beauty. You can even wander through the kite museum.  Check out this website and make plans to attend:

 http://kitefestival.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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!

DSC_2409DSC_2419

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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