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Friday, April 29, 2016

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U is for {FREE} Underground Scavenger Hunt!

What will you find underground?  This exploratory sensory activity is perfect for the letter U (U is for underground!) and spring, summer, fall, outdoor, and bug themes!

Just give your kids a little hand shovel and let them get started!  Or use a big shovel!  You may be amazed by what they find!

Or they may find exactly what you expect!  You never know!

You can repeat the activity in your backyard, at the playground, and at the beach!  You will probably find different things underground at each location.  Ask your kids why!

I also made a {FREE} Underground Scavenger Hunt printable page for you!  You can use it when you go outside, or for an outdoor challenge, or just to see what critters and objects you can find!

Click here to get a {FREE} copy of the Underground Scavenger Hunt!!

We are joining with a group of kid bloggers to bring you A-Z Spring Outdoor Learning Activities for Preschoolers & Toddlers!  Check back here on Monday to get the links for fun outdoor activities you can do that tie into all the letters of the alphabet!!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

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Ancient History: Roman Road

One of our favorite subjects is history!  My kids especially love the projects we've been doing at a homeschool co-op every other week that tie into each week's theme.  We loved learning about ancient Rome and making these super cool Roman roads!

I love the huge age range of kiddos that fell in love with these roads: everyone from preschool to 5th grade had a great time making them and playing with them at home!

We are using the Story of the World Volume 1 and its associated activity book as a history curriculum.  Chapter 28, The Roman Empire, suggests making these ancient Roman road models to help learn and reinforce how the Romans built roads.

Our history group meets every two weeks at our wonderful host's home where everyone takes turns preparing different activities.  Our host prepared this one for the kids, and did such a wonderful job that I wanted to share it with you!  I'm sure you and your kiddos will want to make something similar!

Ancient Roman roads spanned thousands of miles and connected cities across the empire to the capital city.  They allowed armies to travel quickly and goods to be shipped easily.  And they were quite the scientific feat!  The ancient Romans definitely used ash to make their concrete, but they also had a lot of other layers!  Check these out:

Layer 1: A ditch or hole in the road (we used cardboard).

Layer 2: Sand (we glued sand to the board).

Layer 3: Small Stones (we used fishtank pebbles).

Layer 4: Concrete made from sand, soil, and volcanic ash (we used sand dough...see below!).

Layer 5: Paving stones (we used round rocks and marbles).

Aren't they pretty?!!  My kids have displayed their ancient Roman roads for two weeks now!  Everybody loves them!

Let's talk about Layer 4 for a moment.  We used Sand Dough (our host used the recipe in Story of the World), but you could also use an air drying clay (like Sculpey).  The sand dough recipe we used suggested 4 cups play sand, 2 cups cornstarch, 4 teaspoons cream of tarter, 3 cups hot water, and cooking them all over medium heat until stiff, then removing it and letting the dough cool for 15 minutes.  If it's still sticky, cook it longer and repeat the cooling!  Otherwise knead it slightly and store it in a zip lock baggie!

Also, just so you know, this is NOT a sponsored post.  We use Story of the World and love it, so I thought I would share an activity we've done with it.  :)

What do you use for history?  Do your youngest kiddos study history too?  I'd love to hear from you!!

I'm sharing this as part of the Early Elementary Blogger's Transportation Day!  Check out these other transportation learning ideas:

Tracing Shapes With Hotwheels from Parenting Chaos
Monster Truck Math from Look! We're Learning!
Transportation Subtraction Cards from The Kindergarten Connection
Roman Numerals Matching Game: The Glorious Flight Storybook Go Along from School Time Snippets
Language Arts Story Trains from Schooling a Monkey
Ancient History: Roman Roads from Preschool Powol Packets

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

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{FREE} I Can Count to 10: Ocean Animals

Use this fun and colorful {FREE} ocean-themed counting page to practice counting and to teach 10 and one-to-one corresponding relationships!

This {FREE} printable has 4 different ocean animals appearing 10 times each!  Practice counting the critters, mark them off as they're counted, and do it again!   Use coins or BINGO markers to cover the fish you've already counted, or use a dot marker!  Print on cardstock and laminate for repeated use! 

Click HERE to get an Ocean-Themed Counting Practice Page for FREE!!

Are you talking about oceans or ocean animals?  Be sure to take a look at my {FREE} Ocean Count & Clip Cards and {FREE} Dolphin Dots Pages!

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

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Raising Painted Lady Butterflies and Watching them Hatch!

We absolutely love growing butterflies--it is one of our favorite spring activities!  Every time we do it, we hope to be able to see the butterflies actually "hatch," or break out of their chrysalises!  Sometimes we catch it, and sometimes we don't!  I thought I'd share some pictures from the Painted Ladies life cycle, how you know when they're about to hatch or break out of their chrysalis, and a video of one of them actually climbing out of the chrysalis for you!  You can use this as you plan your own butterfly growing experiences!

You can order Painted Lady Butterfly caterpillars from several companies--I'll put Amazon affiliate links at the bottom of this post.  They usually arrive about 1-2 centimeters long in a little ventilated cup full of food.

For about a week these caterpillars are the perfect pet: they require absolutely no care, but you can watch them grow and grow and grow!  They will outgrow their skin four times during this "larva" stage.  Each time they will molt or shed their skin.  You will start to see piles of poop and shed skin build up at the bottom of the little cup.  This part of the painted lady life cycle lasts 5-10 days.

After about a week the caterpillar will climb to the top of the cup and use its spinnerets (just below its mouth) to spin a silk pad to attach to the ceiling of the cup with.  Once it attaches, it will hang in a J-shape as it molts one last time into a chrysalis.

Sidenote: Butterflies molt into a chrysalis.  Moths spin a cocoon.

Your instructions usually say to move the chrysalises to a butterfly home after about 2 days.  This is ideal because you don't want to interrupt the amazing change going on inside the chrysalis, but one time we were out of town and were not able to move them until they had been chrysalises for 5 days.  We were very gentle!!  Even though we moved them at the wrong time, both butterflies came out fine!

The chrysalis, or pupa stage, lasts 7-10 days.  I have heard that it is faster when the weather is warmer, but it may just be heresay.  Either way, we have had some caterpillars hatch in exactly 7 days and others take the full 10!  Everyone always wants to know how to tell when the butterflies are getting ready to hatch.  And this time, I actually paid very close attention to the entire process so I could tell you exactly what to watch for!  Of course, yours may develop faster or slower (remember they can be inside the chrysalis for 7-10 days!), but hopefully this will give you an idea what to expect and how to know when it is time for your Painted Lady butterflies to hatch! I know my kids asked me several times a day, "Is it time for the butterflies to come out of the chrysalis yet?"

So how do you know when it is time for a Painted Lady butterfly to hatch?  It's hard to know for sure, but here are my best tips:  Sometime after about 7 days, the chrysalis darkens.  Shortly after that the chrysalis becomes more transparent, and you can see through the chrysalis and even identify spots and patterns on the wings of the butterfly.  At this point, you are down to under 24 hours before your butterfly breaks out of its chrysalis!  I put together this little infographic to help explain it with pictures:

Watching the butterfly actually break out of its chrysalis is incredible!  Here are some pictures from our last set:

And in case you miss it (the whole process only takes about 3-5 minutes!), I made a video for you too!  Every time I see it, I am amazed at the transformation these little insects go through!

If the video doesn't load for you, you can click HERE to watch it at YouTube.

And finally, the Painted Lady Butterfly!  When it emerges, it has wet, folded wings that take hours to stretch out and dry.  It also has to assemble the final pieces of its proboscis so it can eat.  At this point, we usually place an orange wedge in the "butterfly habitat" and watch it for a day or two.  Then we have a "releasing party" where we set it free!

Are you growing Painted Lady butterflies?  I would LOVE to hear about your experiences!!  Feel free to leave me a comment, send me an email, or stop by my PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page and leave a picture!  You may also want to check out my collection of Cool Facts About Painted Lady Butterflies!  And if you're doing a butterfly theme, try this gorgeous butterfly craft or these fun butterfly songs and fingerplays!

A couple of my blogging friends have written about their Painted Ladies too!  If you want to see their experiences with these butterflies, visit Craftulate and  !

Did you know that on Saturdays the STEAM bloggers bring you a variety of science, teachnology, engineering, art, and math activities?  Check out this week's fun:

Water Cycle Activity Science Discovery Bottle from little Bins for Little Hands
DIY Recycled STEAM Notebook from Handmade Kids Art
Magic Milk | Process Art and Science from The Science Kiddo

Amazon Affiliate Links:

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

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Butterfly Plants for Preschoolers

Everyone here loves butterflies!  We especially love to see them landing on our own plants, and wanted to put more plants that attract butterflies into our yard.  The problem is that a lot of butterfly plants (including milkweed) are toxic, and we have preschoolers and toddlers that put flowers in their mouths.  The solution is simple: we're using edible plants that attract butterflies!

Today I'm sharing five edible plants I love that are also supposed to attract butterflies. You can use garden planning time to talk about science concepts like life cycles and food webs or match concepts like space and measurements.  I have loads of math and gardening ideas here!  Let your kiddos pick out what plants they want to grow, record when they see butterflies, and taste their garden as it matures!  Pair planting with a life cycle or habitat discussion as you plan which butterflies you want to attract!

Here are five butterfly flowers that are perfectly safe (even edible!) for your preschoolers:

Plant #1: Yarrow.  Butterflies love the flowers and Painted Lady butterflies will lay their eggs on it!

Plant #2: Lemon Balm:  Easy to grow, delicious to steam (use it in a tea!), and a favorite of butterflies, lemon balm is a win-win garden plant!  And it has the added bonus of attracting White Peacock butterflies!  You may need to designate some plants to let flower to get your butterflies!

Plant #3: Sage:  Another super easy to grow plant with a strong, fragrant scent, sage attracts a variety of butterflies and other pollinators.  It is also a "host" plant (which means that butterflies will lay their eggs on it and the caterpillars that hatch will eat the plant) for at least three different butterfly species (including Swallowtails, Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks, Painted Ladies, White Coast Ladies, and Gray Hairstreak).  There are a ton of different sages, but Autumn Sage (S. greggii), Mexican Bush Sage (S. leucantha), Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), Pineapple Sage (S. elegans), and Blue Sage (S. leucantha) are all very popular for butterflies!

Plant #4: Lavendar:  I have always loved the smell of lavender, so it seems perfectly normal that butterflies would like it too!

Plant #5: Marigolds:  This is also a "nectar" plant, meaning that butterflies will land on it to drink the nectar, but not lay their eggs on it.  Marigolds do not provide a food source for caterpillars, but the are safe for your kiddos!  And they come in a huge range of colors!!  (Pictured are marigolds with a swallowtail on them!)

Do you plant plants for butterflies?  I'd love to know which ones!

Today, the Early Elementary Blogging Team is writing about flowers and gardens!  Check out these great learning ideas:

Garden Math Adding Money Free Printable at Life Over C's
Seed Sprouting Science Experiment at Schooling a Monkey
Flower Suncatchers at Parenting Chaos
Flower Garden: Reviewing Area & Perimeter at Line Upon Line Learning
Butterfly Flowers for Preschoolers at Preschool Powol Packets

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