Category: outdoor fun

Watch the Perseid Meteors Tonight

By , August 14, 2010 2:53 pm

Last night I woke my two oldest children up at 2:30AM.  I led my confused and sleepy babies out onto the golf course behind our house armed with a flashlight and a blanket.  I spread out the blanket on the cool, damp grass of the fairway, we all laid on it facing northeast … and hoped that the sprinklers would not go off! Lol!

The children were astonished by what they saw – shooting stars, lots of them!  We also saw the Milky Way and several satellites marching in line across the night sky.

Our fabulous unplugged (and free!) show was the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.  The peak was the nights of August 12 and 13th, but you might still be able to see a pretty good display through the 22nd (especially if you are lucky enough to live in a low ambient light area like we do).  Just look to the northeast after midnight.

PS.  Most visible in the Northern Hemisphere, sorry!

LINKS:

EarthSky’s Meteor Shower Guide

Excellent Perseid Meteor Shower Expected

How-To: Photographing the Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid Photo Gallery

For another of our astronomy adventures, you might like to read: The Moon Unplugged? Not For Me!! (Part 1) and Mom Unplugged vs. Evil Sleepy Poser Mom – Lunar Dilemma Part 2.

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(PHOTO:  I wish I had taken this great Perseid photo, but it is the work of Mila Zinkova.  License information can be found here.)

Nice Day + Old Fish Tank = Terrarium

By , May 20, 2010 3:41 pm

Are you without any ideas for organized unplugged things to to do on a nice Spring day but you aren’t feeling ambitious enough for a full blown Children’s Garden?  Do you have an old fish tank, or large glass bowl?  See if your kids want to make a terrarium!

Very few children can resist the idea of their own tiny little garden.  Even I remember making one and being totally fascinated by the magic of such a small scale.  To me it was like a little doll house garden.  If you have a fairy-lover, call it a Fairy Garden.  A dragon-lover, why not make a Baby Dragon Garden!  Be creative.

Last Sunday when we had our first gorgeous spring day, I finally told my 9 year-old that she could have the old fish tank in our garage that had been gathering dust in our garage for at least 6 months.  She has had her eye on it for some time – but for me, snow and cold are not conducive to warm, green creativity.

We finally pulled it out and I told her she was on her own.

This is what she came up with all by herself (as long as you don’t count my driving her to the nursery to get her plants while I bought mine).

I LOVE the reuse of the little fairy house from our fairy garden of 2 years ago and the path of rocks that lead to it.  There is even a pond made out of a food storage container that my daughter wants to put tadpoles in.  She put some sea shells in the pond and broken terracotta pots as homes for the future frog residents.  Some of the ferns look like trees and there is a small sprig of English Ivy for which she plans to make her own twig trellis.

Very fun and easy!

- Teaches kids not only to be creative about their landscaping ideas, but responsibility in caring for their creation.

- If you don’t have a suitable glass container, try searching yard sales and thrift stores.

Change – Weekly Unplugged Project

By , October 25, 2009 8:19 pm

This week’s post is a change from other Unplugged Project posts.  The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was change.  We did lots of things this week that involve change, but no real sit down and do it kind of “project.”  None of these projects were planned around the theme, they just happened.

Change the world: On Thursday I took my oldest daughter and a few other children from her class to our local soup kitchen to help serve lunch and clean tables.  I am leading a community service workshop for our small Montessori school’s elementary class (6 to 9 year-olds).  If we want to change the world, we must start with the children.  More on this project later.

Small change (can change the world): Of their own initiative, my oldest daughter and two friends have formed a secret club called The Helping Hands Club (The HHC for those in the know!).  On Saturday they sold homemade chocolate chip cookies that they made (by themselves) and pumpkins (that they bought with their own money) to a few neighbors and made $21+ in small change for charity!  (Reminded me a bit of the great Heifer International Christmas ornament sale a few years ago.)

Change of seasons: It is fall in our part of the world and we walked together on this glorious fall day. The sky was blue, the fall colors vibrant, the air crisp yet comfortable. A fire is crackling in the fireplace now as I write this.

Changing the worm bin: Yes, the worms in our worm bin are still happily eating, reproducing, and pooping.  It was time to change the bedding and harvest the castings, so we did it today.  The kids love interacting with the worms.  We are trying a new harvesting method this time, more on that later if it works.

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If you did a change Unplugged Project, then please link to your POST not just your blog in the Linky below. If you did not join in, then do not link, but you can always read more here about how to participate in the Unplugged Project. We’d love to have you!

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The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:

Smell

Have fun and be creative!

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Homemade Anemometer – Weather (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , October 4, 2009 8:35 pm

The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was weather and the weather today was windy, VERY windy.  We decided to try making a homemade anemometer (device that measures wind speed) with the instructions that I found here.

You’ll need some stiff, corrugated cardboard, four small Dixie-type paper cups, a long sharp pencil with eraser, a stapler, scissors, a push pin and some modeling clay.

First cut the small rims off the paper cups using the scissors.

Next cut the cardboard into two strips of equal length.  Staple them together in the form of a cross.

Color one cup a different color.  Red or something bright would be easier to spot, but all we could find that would work on the waxy surface of the cup was a black Sharpie.

Find the exact center of your cross by drawing an “X” between the corners of the center portion like this:

Where the lines cross is the center and is where you will put your thumb tack.  (NOTE:  This step is easiest to do before you attach the cups).

Staple a cup to the end of each cardboard strip.  Make sure they are all facing the same way and are aligned perpendicular to the cardboard strips.

Push the pin through the center of the cross and into the eraser of the pencil.

Take your anemometer outside and stick it to a porch railing or table in a base made out of modeling clay.

Your anemometer should now spin in the wind!  (*SHOULD* – read note below!)

To check the speed, count the number of times the colored cup passes by you in one minute.  Obviously the more times it swings by, the faster the wind.  You can measure at different times of day to compare the wind speeds.

If you want to get really scientific you can calibrate your anemometer using your car.  Read the clever instructions for how to do it here.

* NOTE* – We discovered that although it was a very, very windy day out (55 mph gusts), the gusts were so variable in strength and direction that our anemometer didn’t spin very well (but it did blow off the railing once or twice!).

It worked much better inside with human-generated wind as you can see here in this very primitive video! (PS. Please ignore my messy house):

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If you joined in this week’s weather Unplugged Project, please link to your project post (not just your blog – we always want to be able to find your post) in the Linky below.  If you didn’t join in the Unplugged Project but think you might like to in the future, read more about how to participate here.  We’d love to have you!

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The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:

Wheel

I must be in a “W” phase  at the moment.  I hope to see you next week!

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3rd Annual Rock Flipping Day Results

By , September 20, 2009 9:48 pm

We all had a lovely time flipping rocks this morning for the 3rd Annual International Rock Flipping Day!  Honestly, I could not have imagined that rock flipping could be so interesting, but my children, my husband and I all had the best time wandering around flipping rocks (and putting them carefully back of course).

The children ran through our yard and the woods by our house searching for perfect rocks:

We learned that our rocks here are quite beautiful, very volcanic and full of holes:

This one actually showed a distinct lava flow pattern on it:

Under our rocks we discovered:

Mold:

A small mushroom that grew up in the shade of two tightly stacked rocks:

A baby centipede  -  a teeny tiny yellow thread with lots of legs.  I apologize for the bad picture, but much of what we found was very small and hard to photograph:

Strange white beetles with legs and antennae, barely the size of a grain of rice:

The much expected “Rollie Pollies”  or Pill Bugs, but these guys were whiter than we had ever seen before:

Ants, LOTS of ants and eggs.  Much to our surprise we found that ants don’t just live underground, but actually use the holes in our volcanic rocks as homes and nurseries!

You can even see little dots inside the ant eggs in this photo, Each collection of eggs seemed to have a “nurse ant” to go with it:

A peanut that had been buried (and probably forgotten) by a squirrel – round thing in the middle of the photo:

A small cricket:

Mystery eggs? Not ant eggs and about the size of small beads. Any ideas?

A spider on a pretty rock.  Can you see it?:

What did you find under rocks where you live? Email Susannah of Wanderin’ Weeta with a link to your post, or upload your photos to the Flickr International Rock Flipping Day Group.

I will post our feather Unplugged Project and the Linky tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Hope to see you then!

PS. Thank you Susannah for our Junior Rock Flipping Badge.  The kids will be excited about this tomorrow morning!

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