September 27

Red-footed Cannibalfly

I thought it was a dragonfly at first pass, but when I asked the Seek app to identify it, I learned that I had happened upon a red-footed cannibalfly, a type of robber or assassin fly. Think peregrine falcon of the insect world. It lays in wait for a large insect, grabs it in mid-air, injects a venom to paralyze it, as well as digestive enzymes, so that internal organs become a liquid that it sucks through its mouthparts. Go here and here to read about this amazing predator.

Because of their large compound eyes, they have excellent vision. Go here for a related post about compound eyes.

Watch full screen here.

Go here to view how full screen. Examples of biomimicry in the development of drones are presented.

August 2


When I was on a woodland walk, a hiker warned me that a copperhead snake was crossing the path just ahead. Copperheads are a venomous (not poisonous) snake common in Georgia and other parts of the Southeastern United States. It is easily recognized by what appears to be chocolate kisses running along its body.

  • Copperheads are ovoviviparous which means that eggs develop within the mother’s body and babies are born alive in early fall. They are independent and venomous from birth.
  • Young have a tail with a bright yellow tip for about a year that attracts frogs and lizards.
  • This pit viper easily camouflages itself in leaf litter on the woodland forest floor.

  • Like other reptiles, copperheads are cold blooded, and their bodies are covered with scales.
  • Most adults grow to lengths of two to three feet.
  • These vertebrates have muscular bodies and are excellent climbers.
  • During the hot summer months, copperheads are nocturnal, but in the fall, they are active during daytime hours.
  • Copperhead bites are rarely fatal.

I saw these copperheads on a hike in North Carolina.

A snake’s forked tongue darts in and out. Why? Watch below to learn more. Go here to view full screen.

Learn more about animal tongues with this engaging picture book:

June 22

Summer Color

Celebrate summer! Using the following video as inspiration, search for natural items of each color that you identify with this season.

Capture photos and use them to create a book about color or a slideshow with or for children. Be sure to label the color and the object or include a repetitive sentence to build literary skills. Create a scavenger hunt and check off how many different items you find of each color.

Go here to watch full screen.

I like walking with intention and purpose. I’ve made a goal this summer to hunt for examples of each color and first up is orange. Often a color associated with fall, I was surprised at the number of orange pops in the summer landscape just waiting to be discovered. Now it’s your turn, how many orange items can you find – maybe a bird, stone, sunset, or shell? I tried to snap a photo of a chipmunk, but it was too fast!

All ages will enjoy mixing yellow and red paint (primary colors) to create orange (a secondary color), as well as the tertiary or intermediate colors which fall between them. Then add black and white paint to create shades and tints of orange. Blue is across the color wheel from orange and is known as its complementary color. Many sports teams wear complementary colors. Why? What happens when you mix blue and orange together?

Scientists describe their observations using physical traits, one of which is color. Color is also used to classify both living and nonliving things.

Such a great story about creativity! Use it to jumpstart an engineering activity in which students design and build 3D facades of their dream houses. Go here to view full screen.

Go here to view full screen.

May 22

The Beauty is in the Middle

Even the tiniest items in nature, colorful and intricate, display God’s handiwork! Patterns and symmetry in complex designs abound! Just look under any microscope. Take a moment to experience the awe and wonder as you gaze upon the center of these exquisite, but common, flowers. I hope I am never too preoccupied to notice the small treasures I encounter along my way.

Click here for an investigation with paper flowers.

Click here for a lab about dissecting flowers.

Click here for a lab about pollinators.

Videos follow of characters enjoying the delight of gardening:
Click here to view full screen.

To view full screen, click here.

Click here to watch full screen.

April 19

New Book Series

I recently discovered this book series for families with young children who enjoy learning while they spend time outdoors. Take these interactive field guides with you as you explore any outdoor area. Hands-on learning activities include scavenger hunts, discovery games, seek and find tasks that sharpen senses, and creative trail projects. Sticker patches and a magnifying glass are included.

Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail What Will You Find? - Editors of Storey Publishing

Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk: 1 by Publishing, Storey, of, Editors ...

What a fun family gift! Other books in the series include Bug Hunt, Bird Watch, Rock Hunt, and Discovering Trees. Click here to learn more.

April 17

Earth Day – Reusing and Repurposing Plastic

Plastic, invented about 100 years ago, can take up to 500 years to decompose. Celebrate Earth Day by reusing and repurposing plastic for spring gardening projects.

Click here to learn how to use a DVD case to germinate seeds. Label plant parts with a sharpie.

Click here for directions on how to make a plastic planter.

For information on an outdoor planter, click here. So that water could drain, a piece of screen was attached to the bottom of the planter with a rubber band.

These repurposed cups made a perfect greenhouse. Click here for more information.

Click here to view full screen.

February 21

Guatemala – Avocados

While on a family trip to Guatemala, a group of us opted to go on a tour of an avocado farm. Our drivers drove about 45 minutes out of Antigua up the side of a mountain. Click here for the link to the farm’s FB page.

Do hard things! That’s what I reminded myself as the first of two swinging bridges that stretch high across ravines came into sight. Our guide told us that women harvesting the avocados walk across the bridge with a basket of avocados balanced on their heads and don’t hold onto the railings! Only two of us were able to cross the bridge at the same time. Click here to watch. Now I understand why avocados are so expensive!

Our guide rewarded us all with avocado popsicles. Delicious! And then I learned that we had to walk back over the bridges to return to the entrance!

I removed the pits from some avocados at home and will attempt to sprout them soon.

June 13

The Busy Tree

The Busy Tree is one of my favorite picture books about trees. I pass many trees as I walk, but when I approach this one, I always pause and wonder. Who is living in, around, and on this large tree? Is there a nest hidden out of my view or an animal living in a hollow? Which insects make it their home? Will I spy a squirrel climbing on the branches or an animal resting in the shade on a hot day? Does lichen grow on the trunk or mistletoe up on the limbs? Will this tree produce nuts or seeds? A tree truly is teeming with life!

Click here for full screen. Click here for the Safeshare link.