Free Bird Printable Set of Hunting Red

Birds of Hunting Red color page from PocketMousePublishing.com -- free download!
The free Bird Printable Set based on the nine North American birds found in Hunting Red* is ready for downloading! The set contains a full color page of all nine birds, an identical b&w page for coloring, a set of name cards, play ideas, and individual coloring worksheets for each of the following birds:

Red-Tailed Hawk
American Robin
American Crow
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Pileated Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal
Scarlet Tanager

Birds of Hunting Red hawk worksheet from PocketMousePublishing.com
Red-tailed Hawk worksheet

After creating the page featuring all nine birds together, I printed a copy for my 12yo son to color.  He used Hunting Red*, AllAboutBirds.org, and our beloved National Geographic Birds of North America* field guide to accurately color each male bird.  I chose to draw all males, although there is a mix of males and females in Hunting Red*.

He scanned the completed page, and printed it on cardstock to see how it looked.  Beautiful!  I laminated the colored bird page, along with the name cards, and cut them all out.  Then it was off to the park to play Bird Search — which is exactly like hunting for Easter eggs, but the fun is year-round!

The children stayed on the playground while I went to a little stand of trees nearby.  I hid some birds in the branches of the evergreens, some on the ground under those branches, and some I stuck into the bark of a deciduous tree.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Worksheet from Hunting Red (PocketMousePublishing.com)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak worksheet

I laid out the name cards on the ground so the children could place each bird with its name as they found them. For my 5yo, I added the encouragement of “hot and cold”: “You’re getting warmer, warmer…oh, colder now, warm, burning! You found it!”

After all the birds had been found, we played 2 more times – once with my boys hiding them for their little sister, and once I helped her hide them for her big brothers.  Each time we moved to a new location in the park.

I hope you enjoy the printable set!  It was fun to create and plan to make additional sets based on the other flora and fauna of Hunting Red*. In the meantime, before you hunt for eggs — hunt for birds!

Pileated Woodpeck worksheet from Hunting Red (PocketMousePublishing.com)
Pileated Woodpecker Worksheet

You can download the free set by clicking here, and share this post with those who enjoy it!  Also, a special thanks to Deborah Leigh for use of her snail picture on the Scarlet Tanager worksheet!

As always, books marked with an * are affiliate links, and you can read our full disclosure at the bottom of the About page!

Do You Have a Nature Habit?

Making the Nature Habit Your ONE ThingDo you have a nature habit? Have you made nature part of your daily or weekly rhythm? Sometimes it is hard to make “getting outside” a priority, even when we know the benefits, including recent studies showing the importance of sunlight to vision!

I’ve just finished skimming the book The ONE Thing* by Gary Keller. The premise of the book (highly recommended!) is that in order to have more of what we want in our life, we need to focus on less. Our focus needs to be on our ONE thing. He acknowledges that we will have many priorities in our lives, but each of us has something that matters most and that is our ONE thing.
Right now, my ONE Thing is getting myself and my children outside every day, as a habit. Just as we eat every day, and we sleep every day — we go outside every day. To notice, to know, to be.

The ONE Thing is full of quotes which inspire me to making going outside a daily habit.

At the end of Chapter 2: The Domino Effect, Gary says:

The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.

The benefits of time in nature happen over time. Getting out every day — whatever the weather — will get us there.

Making the Nature Habit Your ONE Thing

Chapter 4: Everything Matters Equally opens with a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

This is followed by:

The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest. –Bob Hawke

Everyone’s “matters most” will be different from their “matters least” – but the thing that screams the loudest for our attention likely isn’t time in nature. And it probably comes via an electronic device of some kind.   At least, that generally is the case in my house.

So how do we make nature time a habit?

Well, in Chapter 6: A Disciplined Life, Gary tells us:

There is this pervasive idea that the successful person is the “disciplined person” who leads a “disciplined life.”

It’s a lie.

He says that we don’t need more discipline; we need more habit. And just enough discipline to form that habit. How long to form a habit? More than the often cited 21 or 28 days, apparently. Gary references a University College of London study which found it takes, on average, 66 days to form a habit. Yesterday was our family’s 34th day of getting outside in a row – we’re halfway to a habit!

A final quote from the book I will share is by F.M. Alexander and comes from Chapter 12: The Path to Great Answers:

People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.

What habits are deciding your future?  Do you have a nature habit?  Leave a comment or share a link and let us know!

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When a Walk in Nature Goes Wrong

When a Walk in Nature Goes Wrong -- pocketmousepublishing.comHow do you handle it when a walk in nature goes wrong? I don’t mean “Drama in Real Life” wrong. Breathe easy — no cougars attacks, rock slides, or poisonous mushrooms will be featured in this account.

This is about the small frustrations that occur when you’re trying to get yourself and your family away from “the electronic paradise” as the S’More Outdoor podcast so succinctly describes it. This is the red crayon in the dryer, the burned dinner, the waiting in line at the library with a whining toddler to pay the (huge) fine – so you can check out your fifty book stack.

We’ve all had these types of frustrations in our daily lives. And they aren’t absent just because we want to take our children out to experience the joys of nature.

Earlier this week we headed out for a walk with the dog to the woods. I was in high spirits because two of my older children were able to come along – between working and their college/highschool classes, they do not get the same quantity of outdoor time the rest of us do! Off we went, the little didn’t even where a jacket because it was such a spring-like day.

First, I slipped on the wooden walkway leading across a drainage ditch. Initially my knee hurt dreadfully. But after standing up and testing it, I realized it didn’t hurt to walk (much). So on we went, with me and my oldest chatting about the importance of soil and the neat collection of monthly soil activities I found (more on this in a future post!).

We finally arrived at the creek. The 9yo had gone on ahead and was out of sight, but I wasn’t worried, we had a meeting place.

With all the melting snow our little creek was running fast and quite cold, so big brother offered to carry 5yo across.

You know what is coming, right?

When a Nature Walk Goes Wrong - Creek

He slipped and into the icy water she went.

Was she hurt? Not at all.

Did she cry? Not at all.

Was she cold and wet and needing to go home right then? YES! I took off my coat and wrapped her in it, picked her up, instructed the other three to locate 9yo and come home. So much for family time out in glories of nature.

Then I headed home with a bum knee, a shivering 5yo in my arms, and a very unhappy dog who didn’t like her family heading in different directions.

Halfway home, coming down a rather steep hill, the dog stopped and looked back. She wouldn’t budge. Then over the hill came the dejected 9yo. My initial (horrified) thought was he had discovered no one was following him and came back to look for us, somehow missing his siblings…who were now wandering the woods looking for him!

But no, they had found him and were not far behind. He was unhappy because he hadn’t gotten his nature walk.

We all finally arrive home. And swore off walking in the woods forever.

No, actually, we didn’t. Think about those small frustrations. After the crayon in the dryer incident, did you take ALL your family’s dirty clothes to the dry cleaners henceforward? After the burned dinner, did you only eat in restaurants? And have you never returned to the library simply because you were embarrassed by a fine? Of course not!

We move on, we overcome, and maybe we can even laugh about such incidents in the years to come. When the immense bruise on my knee fades, I may laugh.

In the meantime, we’re still walking in the woods and on the paths and to the park…anything to get our daily dose of nature, no matter the weather. It has been 33 days since we started. I think we’re on the way to a habit!

Don’t give up on getting out into nature just because it isn’t idyllic every time you venture out!  Check out this encouraging National Wildlife Federations Health Benefits page and get back out there with your kids!

Do you find getting out into nature with your kids frustrating?  Have you ever had a nature walk go wrong?

Syruping Season

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As the maple syruping season winds down, Indian Creek Nature Center is sharing the first harvest of the year with the community this weekend. The daytime temperatures have been unseasonably warm, in the 60’s and 70’s, and the night time temperatures have also been unseasonably warm, in the high 30’s and mid 40’s. Without the nights getting below freezing, the trees have produced a modest 280 gallons of sap-only enough to make about 6 gallons of syrup.

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Maple syrup boils at 219 degrees, or 7 degrees above the boiling temperature of water. Wood, sustainably harvested at the Nature Center during restoration projects, provides the fuel for boiling.

If you only have one or two trees to tap or lack a good thermometer, consider drinking the sap or using it to make soups and stews. It has great flavor and is rich in minerals.

 While the temperatures will likely get cold again, the silver maple trees are already budding out, signaling that the sugars (=good syrup) are changing to starches (=bad syrup). Many of the trees have simply stopped producing sap altogether.
Another sign that the seasons are shifting:

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Mallard ducks are beginning to pair up.
The syruping is ending, but the next wild edible to emerge-stinging nettle-is just beginning to poke through the softening ground.
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As spring progresses, keep an eye on the maples. Their flowers in March attract bees, and their sap attracts other things all year long.

sapsucker Sept 12 copy
Yellow bellied sapsucker by Gabrielle Anderson from Hunting Red.

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Healthy Soil for Healthy Food

iys-logo-for-web

In this, the International Year of Soil, I hereby propose a Clean Soil Act for 2015! Healthy soil, a finite resource, is the lifeblood of healthy food. For fun soil activities, visit here.

 

by guest Scott Koepke, New Pi Soilmates Organic Garden Educator.

Current law allows us to apply certain classifications of chemicals to soil that microscopes indicate can greatly diminish biological life. Them’s fightin’ words in the Corn Belt. In my outreach, however, I have found that there are ways to find—excuse the pun—common ground with both conventional and organic farmers on this vital issue. We are building bridges on themes of biodiversity and cost savings. Let’s look at some of the science:

septemberherbsatelaines 017Exhibit A: Organically-farmed soil is biologically robust, teeming with microbial diversity that, as it consumes and decomposes organic matter in what is called the “poop loop,” produces chemically-available nutrients for root systems to absorb. Regenerative—not extractive—practices that build organic matter, like composting and cover cropping, are nature’s free gifts of fertilizer. They also create soil structure that retains hydration more effectively during drought conditions. Organic methods grow nutrients.

Exhibit B: Soil samples from fields that have been conventionally monocropped with corn and soy rotations, and sprayed annually with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, often test to be biologically sterile. The soil itself is less friable and hard-packed. Elevated levels of nitrates, phosphorous, neonicotinoids, atrazine, glyphosates, anhydrous ammonia, chlorides, and heavy metals (to name a few) also leach into municipal water sources.

garlic dicing 007This is a debate that threatens certain corporate interests and can often boil down to an impasse about “safe rates of application.” How much glyphosate can I apply and not have it be destructive?

I would suggest that conventional agriculture isn’t going away anytime soon, and that we all need to, at the very least, consider the ever-changing science that provides ample evidence of pollutive thresholds, for which models like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts mandate regulations. There comes a time when enough is a enough. I’m encouraged that, to their credit, farmers of all persuasions are increasingly acknowledging the need for safer alternatives. As my dear Grandma Helen used to remind me, “Scotty, just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.”

 

3-14-15 Organic Challenge

Being organic should be fun as well as tasty. Today, in celebration of National Pi Day, we are making a lemon pie. You will need a glass of water and:

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Zest the lemon skins, slice the lemons in half, and squeeze out ½ cup of juice.

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Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Stir the yolks together with the sweetened condensed milk, the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Pour the mixture into pie crust and bake for 17 minutes. Put the lemon rinds in the glass of water and drink it while the pie is baking.

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Lemons are full of nutrients and vitamins. Pi is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. It never changes, and it is irrational. 3.1415 is just the beginning. Wait until the pie is cool before you use it for math! But you can eat it while it is still warm. It goes well with whipped cream.

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Book Review: When the Root Children Wake Up

Book Review: When the Root Children Wake Up

When The Root Children Wake Up* is Audrey Wood’s delightful tribute to the changing seasons based on a 1906 German story.  You might recognize Audrey Wood as the author of The Napping House* and King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub* (a family favorite!).

The tale begins and ends with Grandfather Winter, and Mother Earth is present when the Root Children wake up.  She helps them with dressing in their new leaf and flower costumes, painting the bugs, and then leads them out into the world.

The children enjoy adventures in the company of each season — Aunt Spring, Cousin Summer, and Uncle Fall — before Mother Earth plays a lullaby for the Root Children to return to sleep.

Ned Bittinger’s paintings do a remarkable job personifying the jolly exuberance of summer and the biting chill of winter. The plump cherubic innocence of the Root Children captures the joys to be found in nature through the year.

I highly recommend this beautiful book for reading with each change of the seasons.  Celebrate the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, on March 20th with the Root Children!

And if you’re looking for more ideas for welcoming spring, check out 7 Ways to Celebrate the Spring Solstice by Rhythms of Play.

Previous Book Reviews: Moon Child

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What changing of the seasons books does your family like?