A few weeks ago I shared on my Instagram a simply DIY STEM project H and I did to supplement of Very Hungry Caterpillar themed lesson. It’s way it’s simple and a great way to work on sorting, counting, patterns, and fine motor skills. It also helps kids exercise their creativity while using up something in a whole new way.
For the rainbow bugs, you simply need multiple applesauce/pouch food lids, pipe cleaners, and possibly googley eyes and glue. (H vetoed this for her “bug” collection, but I think it could have been a cute add on so I included it in the supply picture.) I also mixed everything up, and as her first part of the project asked her to sort the lids by color.
To create, I had H select a pipe cleaner and o e of the kids. She laced the lid on the pipe cleaner and then I helped twist and tuck the end around the lid to secure it. After that, she laced the rest of the lids she chose on to the pipe cleaner. Leaving a good amount of space at the other end of your “bug” will allow you to put another lid of a different hue for the bug’s head, and then again to wrap and secure. Lastly, use smaller pieces of pipe cleaner as the antennas. To do this, simply tuck the smaller piece under the exposed pipe cleaner on the head and then twist. Then if you can decorate with stickers or eyes to finish to look or keep it plain and simple like H decided to do. That’s it! Super easy and a great craft to build on a variety of topics.
It’s been “summer school/camp” over here for a few weeks now, and while I still try to incorporate some semblance of structured learning, IE- workbooks, reading, math, etc., it has definitely loosened since the end of the “school year”. Now more of our day is dedicated to longer nature walks, our home splash pad, lots of arts and crafts – LOTS, and good old fashioned play. While the break in coming up with weekly and daily themes is welcomed, I am a person who thrives on structure and routine. It is because of this that on occasion we throw a theme in to switch things up and guide our week. So during this particular week we had “Camp Momma-rama” – all things hailing back to the good ole days of summer camps and Salute Your Shorts.
Last summer we had a tie dye party that was a ton of fun and easy to do. So much so in fact, that my LO asked that we do it again. So I rounded up the unopened dyes from last summer’s kit and a few all white cotton based pieces for us to use. Tie dye is messy and requires some patience but super on trend and fun. It’s also easy to make it your own whether you decide to use a kit or go the au natural route and use fruits and veggies. Additionally there are numerous techniques so that your pieces vary in not only color but also pattern and design. My personal favorite is creating the ombré or washed out look. To do this, simply paint a higher concentration of the dye in one area and then using a clean brush or paper towel soaked in water swipe it in the direction you want to go. This will smear the dye and begin to fade the further from the original spot you made.
Another activity we did during our Camp Momma-rama, was beading bracelets. I’ve noticed a lot of costume jewelry places selling small colorful and metallic beaded bracelets for astronomical prices. So instead of paying for one of those I threw the craft into our summer camp week since bracelet making and summer camp almost seems synonymous. This was great not only as a self-serving activity for myself, ha, but served as a math, spelling, and fine motor skills activity. My little camper practiced counting and patterns with the beads as well as spelling with her letter charms. Basically a win-win for us both.
Lastly, we painted nature. This was such an easy activity that was stretched out over the week. While on one of our many nature walks, we collected magnolia leaves, pine needle branches, and pine cones. We then used the pine needle branches as brushes, and decorated the other nature items with non-toxic water based paint.
Since summer is right around the corner, flowers and plants are gracing our world with their bright colors and fresh foliage, some of which our kitchens and diets can benefit from. Our family LIVES on our deck. We eat meals out there, relax after work, let our LO play independently there, etc. It also serves as a bit of a supplemental food source in our house. Every year, we plant a variety of veggies and herbs. Something about picking fresh produce for a meal speaks to us, and having it right there on our deck makes it even better.
Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones who enjoy munching on the veggies and herbs. Aphids always seem to show up out of no where and in full force, devouring our goods before we even get a chance to harvest them. While I like to think “every creature great and small” has a purpose in this world, the aphids need to vacate our home and move on to other greener pastures. However, it is because of their reoccurring presence in our garden that we have come to love and routinely support the idea of releasing ladybugs on our plants and in our garden spaces. Ladybugs are one of those “beneficial bugs” that help protect plants from the never ending appetite of aphids and other nuisance insects. They chase after the aphids and in turn return our garden to its fruitful condition.
For the past few seasons, we have turned to the company Nature’s Good Guys. You can purchase directly from their site or search for them on Amazon. While they sell other garden helpers and share tips with best gardening practices and becoming allies with certain bugs, we have routinely purchased their ladybugs (it costs about $7 for 150 ladybugs, and they have other amounts if you have a bigger space). This family owned small business hails from the West Coast in Oregon, and their shipping is fast and reliable. Their packaging comes with helpful literature that tells you all you need to know about your new garden soldiers.
So you bought some ladybugs, now what? According to our research and the company’s instructions, it is best to release the ladybugs either in the dawn or dusk hours directly on the plants while they are not completely alert. They are alive and have minds of their own, so during your releasing party, you may spend some of your time chasing them around your deck and putting them back on the plants. While this may sound exhausting, it is actually a lot of fun especially for LOs. Our daughter is filled with so much glee and excitement every time we do this. We’ve done it a lot and the thrill of it never dulls for her or ourselves.
It also is a good idea to refrigerate them over night (or up to a week) before their release. The point of doing this is that the colder temps will slow down the bugs mobility, thus when they are released will not immediately fly away. Instead, as they begin to wake up and thaw in the sun and natural air, they will be more likely to notice the aphids and do their job.
That’s it! While eventually they may fly away and you might not have them in your garden all season long, they do exactly as nature tells them to do; and you will get to keep your plants in tact for the harvesting season.