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Backyard Exploration and Gardening

With the warmer upon us, there is no better time to begin exploring the great outdoors - starting in your own backyard. From insects and wildlife to gardening and the environment, our backyards are fertile ground for all types of exploration and discovery. The following collection of articles, essays and activities offer a starting point for all of your backyard adventures. For bugs, butterflies and other backyard wonders, these products are sure to encourage further exploration. My experience is that kids take to gardens in different ways depending on their ages, temperaments and, yes, even gender. Of course, children develop at different rates; this is no abbreviated horticultural version of the popular child-raising series "What to Expect... When You're Expecting... The First Year," etc. But a trowelful of guidance goes a long way to matching the child with the gardening activity. If you learn a few good cooking techniques and acquaint yourself with the vibrant world of fresh fruits and vegetables, exquisite, healthy eating will simply become a given in your life over time, I guarantee it.
Gardening is an activity that the entire family can enjoy together. Don't miss these great garden ideas and start digging into the fun. Inspired by the book Weslandia in which a young outcast creates a new civilization in his backyard, this Earth Clock activity teaches children how to build a sundial to understand how the sun can help us tell time. One of the most colorful additions to any wildlife garden is birds. To attract more birds to your backyard, JMG offers the following ideas for Far-Out Feeders. Children can learn to snack in more healthful, nutritious ways and may be more willing to try new and different foods grown from their own gardens. When Ellen Ecker Ogden's daughter returned home from college, tired of institutional dining food and microwave noodles, she was ready to learn how to cook. Ellen started with the basics: homemade salad dressing served over fresh-picked garden greens. Gardening begins with a packet of seeds and some stories. Jerry Griswold offers his selection of essential gardening stories for kids. When you go on a bug hunt, you’ll discover a new and fascinating world, right beneath your feet. This world is populated with creatures that look like they’re straight out of science fiction. But there’s no make-believe here. In Explore Spring! 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring, author Maxine Anderson offers projects, activities and experiments for learning all about the natural wonders that occur during the spring season including the greening of the leaves, animal migration and new births and spring weather. This activity is designed to teach children more about how clouds are formed because, after all, spring is a great time for cloud watching. So you're planning the big family picnic/reunion/anniversary/birthday/barbecue bash, and you're wondering how to keep all the guests entertained? Games are just the thing to work off excess energy and work up a good appetite. The games featured here require little equipment and return lots of fun. Family walking may start out as a way of getting through that terrible Sunday when both the television and the car are in the shop. But it develops into a taste.


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