Rainbow Gumnut Play

Rainbow Gumnut PlayI couldn’t help but steal a whole heap of gumnuts from the tree our neighbors felled a couple of weeks back. At the time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with all of them but i’m starting to realise that the possibilities are endless.

Last week we included some of them as ingredients in our mud stew and this week we used them in a simple nature craft activity. I have more gumnut posts planned too!

We painted a lot of gumnuts red, blue, green and yellow this week. Luckily the girls like painting, so they did most of the work.  I just had to finish them off which I didn’t mind. I knew we’d be keeping these for a long time and probably be playing with them often.

All we used for this activity was gumnuts, paint and creativity!

Painting Gumnuts

After painting the gumnuts, we lay them out on the newspaper and put them in the sun. They didn’t take long to dry.  Then, the girls couldn’t help running their fingers through the container of coloured gumnuts.

Nature Play

Our first activity with the gumnuts was to sort them into coloured groups.

Sorting colours with Gumnuts

Then, we moved the gumnuts around to create different shapes. These turned out just lovely.

Nature Play

Gumnut Star

Of course, we also had to build a rainbow. Miss Possum built one and then we all made one together.

Gumnut Play for kids

 

rainbow

We love simple nature play. What have you made with gumnuts?

Nature Weaving Frames

Easy DIY Nature Weaving FramesI’ve been inspired to make a shoelace thread frame I saw on Pinterest a couple of months ago and I finally made a couple for my children.  I had something very different in mind for ours though. We used them to weave nature!

What you’ll need to make the frames

  • Wooden photo Frame
  • Drill
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Pliers

For the full instructions on how to make the frames click here.

The only thing I did different from the instructions above was that I didn’t buy unfinished frames. Instead, I just bought some wooden frames from the the shop. They were really easy to make and the best part about them is that they can be used over and over again!

What you’ll need for nature weaving:

I collected a basket full of nature for the girls to weave with. The basket was filled with:

  • lomandra Leaves
  • Gumnuts with holes drilled through them
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Long, thin sticks

I had to show the girls how to use the frames as they had never weaved before but it didn’t take long for them to get the hang of it. Giving them lots of  materials meant that they used an array of nature in their weave creations.

Nature Craft

We weaved the lomandra leaves together and looked at it through the sunlight. It was beautiful.

Weaving nature

Then, we threaded nature into the weaved lomandras.

Weaving nature for Kids

The frames were really easy to make ( I made them during their nap time) and it was a lovely, relaxing activity that they really enjoyed after they woke. We’ll be weaving a lot, I’m sure!

Tips for Planning a Wildlife Holiday Overseas

Wildlife Holiday Tips

This post is sponsored.

Have you ever dreamt of seeing a pride of lions strolling across the plains with your own eyes? Or wondered what it would be like to hand-feed a monkey?

We explore nature and wildlife around our home and local area a lot, but one of my dreams is to explore nature and wildlife wonders overseas too.  I don’t have much experience with travelling, but I do know that if you do your research, you increase your chances of having a more successful and ethical wildlife experience.

Here are my tips:

  1. Decide on a destination.  If it’s a nature and wildlife holiday you want, then you need to think about what animals reside in each destination.  Do you want to see elephants, hippos and cheetahs in Africa? Or would you rather see a three-toed sloth and armadillos in South America? This is by far the hardest choice because there’s beautiful wildlife all around the world. I’d suggest choosing a destination that has at least two of the top five animals you’d love to see. You can always get to the others on your next trip.
  2. Consider safety. It’s all very well to start planning your dream wildlife encounter, but if it’s not a safe destination for you and your family, I’d think seriously about whether seeing that animal in the wild is worth it. Always check government travel warnings when planning your overseas holiday, and again before departing.
  3. Research tours. Would you prefer to see your favourite animals in their natural habitat on a safari tour, or have a closer, more intimate experience with captive wildlife?  I know I’d prefer to see them in their natural habitat. Sightseeing tours can be a great way to support local wildlife too. Locals are more willing to protect a species if it’s beneficial to their economy.
  4. Consider animal welfare. If you care about wildlife try to not support activities that don’t prioritise animal welfare. You can make a difference simply by being mindful of where your tourist dollars go. Don’t give your hard-earned cash to those who seek to make a profit from dancing bears and other forms of cruelty.
  5. Go exploring.  If you’re in a different part of the world, chances are you’re already surrounded by critters that are new and interesting, even before you join a tour. Take the kids for a walk in a park or along a short trail and see what birds, insects and other local wildlife you can find. Don’t forget to consider appropriate safety measures for the location, including sun safety, and take a simple explorer kit to make the most of your discoveries. You should take your explorer kits on tours too!
  6. Get to know some locals. There’s something special about hearing old stories told about wildlife through different cultures.  When we finally go on a trip, I’ll be asking the locals questions about their wildlife. I love learning about wildlife through another culture’s eyes, it’s really interesting.
  7. Make a difference. Why not make a difference to wildlife while on your holiday? Research local wildlife organizations that operate in the country you’re visiting and contact them to see if you can help them while you’re on your holiday. What’s a better wildlife experience for you and your children than making a difference!

If you’re considering going on an adventurous wildlife holiday, I’d suggest taking a look at the My Adventure Store website. I couldn’t help but get distracted while scrolling through their many safari tours. I could already picture the joy on my family’s faces. One day I’ll fulfil my dream of going on safari, one day!

Do you have any tips to help travellers plan a wildlife-rich holiday overseas? What’s your ultimate wildlife adventure destination?

Family Holiday Tips

 

Disclosure: This is a paid post. Opinions expressed in this post are my own. Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Snail Scroll Snack

 Snail scroll snack

It’s been ages since I’ve made creatures in the kitchen so yesterday I decided to get a little creative. I was inspired by some animal themed food creations that I’ve seen on Pinterest. There really is so much fun you can do with kids in the kitchen.

I made scrolls for lunch and it was the obvious choice to make the scrolls into a snails! Here’s how to make them.

Ingredients:

  • Any fillings you like. I used spinach, corn, bacon and cheese.
  • Carrot pieces for the eyes
  • Two puff pastry sheets

Pastry snack for kids

 How to make them

1.    Preheat your over to 200 Degrees Celsius.

2.    Let the puff pastry thaw until it’s quite flexible.

3.    Evenly cover the whole sheet with the filling ingredients.

Snail Pastry scroll

4.   Cut the puff pastry in to five long strips. For each strip, roll up one side and squish the sides together to make a head. Leave a gap of about 5 cm for the scroll.  On the opposite end of the strip tuck the two corners under to make the tail.  Bake these in the oven for 4 minutes on 200 Degrees Celsius.

Pastry snail

5.    While the snail bodies are cooking, roll up the scroll. Do this tightly to reduce the sag once it starts to cook. Cut into five scrolls.

Pastry scroll recipe

6.    Pull the snail bodies out of the oven and place the scrolls on top. Add the carrot eyes. (I had to add corn to the face of the snail despite telling the girls that the carrots were the eyes. I left that alone. This was a bit of fun in the kitchen. No need for me to get all scientific).

7.   Put the snail back in the oven for 10 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

Animal Themed party

 

Ready to eat. My fussy girls LOVE them!

More snail activities:

More creature in the kitchen ideas

 

Making Mud Stew

Making Mud Stew - do you really need a Mud Kitchen?

Have your children ever had a mud kitchen? I haven’t made one for my girls but to be honest we haven’t really needed one yet.

One of their favourite activities is to make mud stew or mud potions. They combine ingredients in empty plant pots, our bird bath or if they’re really sneaky, sometimes I catch them with my favourite bowls. I’m not very impressed if I find them with my bowls!

The beauty of making a mud stew or potion is that you already have the ingredients (dirt and nature),  you already have the utensils (bucket, bowls and sticks) and there are so many ways to extend on this activity too (our ideas below).

Here’s what a mud stew looks like

Collecting ingredients was just as much fun as creating the stew. Their chosen ingredients from nature:

Mud fun

They added a lot of dirt to some water.

Playing with Mud

Then, they added their ingredients.

Mud Activities

Finally, the mixture was stirred – thoroughly!

Stirring mud

This activity was joyful to watch.

I’ve got a list of ways to extend on the muddy fun for next time, which will probably be tomorrow, with my bowls!

  • Giving them metric cups, teaspoons and kitchen weighing scales to measure their ingredients
  • Setting up a video camera to see if the girls would like to do their own mud stew cooking show
  • Setting up an area for a mud kitchen so that they can cook more than just stews
  • Providing a play area for the girls to serve their mud stew to pretend customers

What child would want to be inside watching television when they could be getting muddy,  exploring nature and unknowingly learning outside?!

Snake Craft using Plastic Bread Clips

Bread Clip Snake

We’ve been collecting plastic bread clips for weeks and wondering what to do with them. When Miss Possum suggested we use them as scales for a snake craft,  I was stunned.  I couldn’t have thought up recycling bread clips in a better project.

What you’ll need:

  • This snake finger puppet printable by Mr Printables
  • Cardboard (we used a cereal box)
  • Scissors
  • A good craft glue
  • Around 20 bread clips
  • 2-3 pegs

Snake recycled activity

 How to make it:

  1. Glue the snake printable onto the cardboard.
  2. Once the glue has dried you can cut out the snake.
  3. Bend the head and stick it together (see snake image above).
  4. Cut the bread clips in half.
  5. Stick the bread clips on the cardboard snake from the tail up, over lapping them as you go. A good craft glue is important. I found that a peg clipped onto the bread clips at every bend in the snake’s body helped hold them until they dried.
  6. When you get to the head, add the bread clips from the front of the snake, closest to the tongue and overlap them upwards.

 

Once it’s all dry, it’s time to play.

Bread Clip Craft

Miss Possum let the twins pat the snake (pretending to be me, I think). She showed them how to correctly pat a snake (patting down the scales).

Snake Craft

Here are some more snake activities:

This craft was a hit. We’re now collecting more bread clips to make one for Miss Possum and Panda too!

Searching for and Learning about Scorpions

Scorpion Hunting - More fun than you expect!

I can almost imagine most of you shuddering when I mention that I went searching for scorpions with my family this weekend. I’m perfectly aware that this activity may sound a little reckless  but we had the most fantastic time and learnt so much.

All scorpions can sting but your destination in the world is very important. Most scorpions in Australia are quite docile and are not classed as dangerous. If you live in an area that has dangerous scorpions it’s best you do not participate in this activity.

Before we went hunting for scorpions we:

  • put on our closed-in shoes
  • Had a safety talk

I told my children before we left that none of them would be holding a scorpion. I explained that we would just be finding it, putting it in a container and having a closer look. No one was allowed to touch one under any circumstances. We also reminded the kids about snake safety too.

We took :

  • A bug catching container
  • A small shovel
  • A magnifying glass

We went into the bush and started lifting up rocks. Scorpions are a similar colour to rocks and dirt, so you’ll need to have a good look when you turn the rock over. We talked about how the scorpion camouflaged with the rock to help it hide from it’s prey.

Hinting for Scorpions

Here’s a closer look.

Scorpion Activity

 We found two small and two large rainforest scorpions.

Scorpion Activity

We captured one to have a closer inspection by using a stick to move the scorpion onto the shovel. We gently tipped the scorpion into the container. All the children were being fully supervised.

Learning about Scorpions

Scorpion facts we talked about:

  • Scorpions are a part of the Arachnid family (the same family as spiders and ticks). We counted their eight legs.
  • Scorpions are invertebrates, which means they don’t have a back bone but they do have an exoskeleton.
  • Predators: Lizards, Possums, snakes, rats and birds.
  • Prey: Scorpions are ambush predators and eat crickets,  beetles, cockroaches, spiders and millipedes.
  • The stinger on a scorpion is used to kill their prey and to protect themselves.
  • Scorpions give birth to live young and the female keeps the pale young on her back to protect them.

Want to learn more about scorpions? 

Scorpion World

Australian Scorpions

We really did have a lovely day of discovery and learning. We didn’t just find scorpions either, we found ants and spiders too. It really was quite a wildlife nature hunt that day and it’s one we’ll be doing more often.

Would yo go hunting for scorpions with your family?

Fun with Playdough and Shells

Playdough and Shell Activity

When sitting down with my girls and some playdough, I never thought that adding shells to our play would inspire interesting questions and creations. It was a perfect activity that paired playful fun with learning. Here’s what we made and discovered.

Shelled animals

We made snails and hermit crabs by adding a real shell to a playdough body. They looked very life-like.

What we talked about:

Crab Craft

 

Shell snails

 Playing with Shells and Playdough

We had fun creating with playdough and shells. We made:

  • Two playdough balls and sorted the shells  into large and small
  • A rock pool and added shelled creatures
  • A beautiful shell and playdough sculpture

Shell Activities

 

 Making shells using playdough

We looked at the shells and tried to make them out of playdough. This was quite hard at first but after a few tries Miss Possum and I worked together on the project. They turned out great and Miss Possum then could make her own.

Shell fun

We talked about:

  • How shells are made
  • Where we find them
  • What’s their purpose
  • Why there are different shaped shells

Another great way to combine these two  materials is to make letters on playdough using shells.

I’d never have expected that we’d learn so much with playdough and shells but we really did.  I think we’ll be playing with playdough and nature much more in future.

 

Cutting Patterns in Feathers

 Cutting Patterns in Feathers

When we’re out, my children love to collect special pieces they find in nature. They especially enjoy collecting feathers.  I add to their assortment of feathers too by bringing more home from work but our little feather box is now quite overflowing! We decided we’d get crafty with a few.

Some of our feathers had been sitting in a box for quite some time and were a little disheveled. It didn’t take much to clean them up though.  We used a recycled (and clean) eyelash brush and brushed the feather barbs on the same angle they sit. It makes the feather perfect again

.Feather Craft

 Then, we all started cutting into feathers.

Feather Crafts for Kids

 My three-year old, Miss Platypus and Miss Panda, enjoyed just cutting bits and pieces off the feathers while Miss Possum and I cut patterns in the feathers. We cut diagonal and wavy edged feathers and cut feathers into sharp points. We also cut into the barbs near the shaft of the feather and it made a lovely pattern.

Feather crafting

 We had a lot of feather cuttings after our activity but we didn’t waste them. I drew a bird on a piece of paper ( you could download this bird printable instead if you’re not a keen drawer) and then stuck glue all over the bird. The girls stuck the feathers onto the bird picture.

Feather game

 I can’t wait until our feather box overflows again. Neither can the kids!

Have you ever crafted with feathers?

Save the Environment Poster

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Poster

I love reading articles that help me become the green-living person I aim to be.  I want to keep a healthy environment  for my children but when I look at the road ahead my passionate personality can get completely overwhelmed until I switch off.  I really don’t want to switch off, I want to make a difference!

A blog I regularly enjoy reading is Down to Earth Mother.  Jo inspires busy mothers, like me, to make simple green-living changes to our lifestyle. She delivers each post with thought and encourages us to take lighter steps on our planet. She’s awesome!

After reading many interesting and eye-opening posts in one day though, I was close to the edge. I just wanted to roll into a ball and rock. It wasn’t Jo’s posts, it was a video about a baby bird that had died because it had been fed only plastic from its mother. But what was rolling into a ball  going to achieve?

Instead, I took Jo’s advice and started making small changes. I also channelled that overwhelming conservation fatigue into making a poster for myself, a reminder that I can make a difference!

I’m sharing this Save the Environment Poster with you in the hope that it may inspire you too.

Recycling poster

Environment Poster

Here’s what I’ve changed since having this on my fridge.

  • I always (not just sometimes) use my reusable shopping bags each week.
  • I no longer use bin liners and instead just dump the rubbish straight in the bin.
  • I’ve swapped plastic lunch bags with brown paper bags.
  • I’ve revamped my worm farm and am using it again.
  • I pick up more rubbish when I’m out and about.
  • I’m still not buying water bottles (although I haven’t since that post).
  • I’m being more conscious of and reducing the amount of plastic packaging that comes with food.
  • I’m buying more local produce from our market food stalls.

It’s taken me a month to make all these changes. These changes may be small but when I think about how all of those add up, in a year, in 10 years, the difference will be huge!