April 12


I believe in teaching with a multidisciplinary or cross-curricular approach (integrating subject areas) rather than teaching subjects in isolation. STEM also follows this methodology. I’ve found that students consequently reach a higher level of understanding, develop stronger connections, and see real-life applications. The following is an example of how standards can be chunked around a theme. In this case, it is the study of spirals.

How does the study of spirals connect with math? Click here for the Safeshare link.

Before you watch this, brainstorm where you see spirals in nature. Click here for the Safeshare link.

I am reposting links to past labs that focused on spirals found in nature.

Click here to go to the spider lab.

Click here to go to a lab about snails.

Click here to learn about a proboscis.

I recently wrote posts about conifers and ferns. Add spirals to your study of these plants.

A vortex is spiral shaped. Click here to go to the lab.

Many shells are spiral shaped. Don’t pass by those broken shells!  Click here to go to a lab about shells.






























Use loose parts you find to form spirals. Create spirals with patterns too. When you visit the beach, arrange shells and driftwood into spirals.

Turn spirals into snails or snakes.

From the Artful Parent

Doodle with spirals. Use this activity to teach the elements of design, such as line and space. Make large spirals with chalk outside on concrete sidewalks or driveways.

Cut paper into strips of various widths and lengths. Roll them around a cylinder, like a pencil, and place them inside a box with shallow sides. This would make a simple collaborative project and it is a fun way to strengthen hand muscles.

If you have any additional ideas, please leave them in the comments section.

April 11


I’ve always taught about conifers, cone bearing plants, in the winter months, but spring is an ideal time to learn about their life cycles. Many conifers are also evergreen and their leaves are needles. Check out the diversity in the needles below.

Each species of conifers has its own type of cone. How are they alike and different? Describe how they feel, smell, and look.

What is the purpose of pinecones? Click here for the Safeshare link.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Can you identify the male and the female cone? Watch the pollen come off the cone below.

My first-grade classes studied evergreens and conifers. Click here to go to that lab which has additional investigations to do with your children or students. Collect cones on your next walk and find the seeds inside. Were the cones you found open or closed?

The following photo is our next natural phenomenon. What do you notice about the tree below? Where are the pinecones? Have you ever seen a conifer with cones just on the ends of the branches? Why would it grow in this manner?

Click here to go to an excellent resource about pinecones. Do pine nuts come from pinecones? Go to this site to find out.

Include this sweet story about friendship in your study of pinecones. Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

April 7

Book Recommendation

I just finished reading the following book and now I want to watch the movies that portray Fred Roger’s life. He was an ordained minister, completed graduate work in child development, and received over 40 honorary degrees. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood ran for 33 years, showcased his talents as a musician and puppeteer, and had a powerful influence on television programming. His passion for children and wisdom are palpable throughout the biography.

Chapters include: The Importance of Taking Time, Who is my Neighbor?, The Power of Forgiveness, The Least of These, and Difficult Times.

April 5


Most ferns grow in a woodland ecosystem because they prefer lowlight and moist conditions. Isn’t a forest with a fern carpet inviting? In the spring, ferns grow new fronds. Spirals are one of the most common shapes in nature.

Have you ever turned a fern frond over? What did you notice and wonder? These clusters on the underside of fronds are spores which is the means by which a fern reproduces. Ferns, like moss, do not produce flowers or seeds.

When I was at the nursery, I looked for spores on other species of ferns.





















Can you find at least two different species of ferns when you go on your next woodland hike? Take a trip to a nursery and compare the various species of ferns there.

April 4

More Wildflowers

My husband has been in the hospital, so I haven’t walked on the greenway for over a week. How surprised I was to find the woods ablaze with yellow wildflowers. Definitely uplifting and just what I needed!

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March 31

Let’s Study Maple Trees

Spring and fall come with a plenitude of seeds on trees and other vegetation. They disperse in a variety of ways. My favorite are the winged seeds that you find on maple trees. They are called samaras. Look carefully at the samaras below. What do you observe?

Click here for the Safeshare link. This is fascinating!

I just added this book to my collection of nature books. On the last page there is a list of downladable resources.

When engineers are inspired by nature to solve problems, it is known as biomimicry. Click here for more information about biomimicry. My second-grade scientists studied maple seeds prior to engineering rotocopters. Click here and here for information about that science lab.

Some additional activities to do with your scientists:

  • Record the time it takes a samara to fall with and without the wing.
  • Use the slow-motion selection on your camera to record a samara falling.
  • Pull the samara apart and find the seed.
  • Use a magnifying glass or a camera to look closely at the wing.
  • Carefully observe and draw a samara. Paint your drawing with watercolors.
  • Do samaras look the same on the tree and on the ground?
  • Is there diversity among the samaras you collected (size, shape, or color)?
  • If you find a maple tree, walk in all directions to discover how far the samaras have traveled.
  • Can you sprout maple seeds?
  • Learn about and taste maple syrup. Click here for the Safeshare link.

Can you identify a maple leaf? Click here to watch a video to learn more.

Include this fiction picture book in your study of maple trees. Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

March 31

April Fool’s Day Activity

I wanted to post something fun for you to do on April Fool’s Day! Can you make the photo of George Washington smile on a dollar bill?

See the source image

See the source image

Click here to learn how to turn his frown upside down! Now try to make other historical figures smile on different denominations of paper bills.

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March 29

Wild Violets

I found the edge of the woods covered with violets on my last hike. Some believe wild violets (common in the Eastern half of North America) are a desirable perennial, but others consider it a weed. They can take over a lawn because they self-seed and are difficult to control once established.

These native wildflowers bloom in the spring and have heart-shaped leaves. They prefer shady areas with moist soil but can spread into sunnier locations. According to my research, wild violets and their leaves are edible, but be sure to verify that information.

I found this violet growing in a fallen tree!

Violets and their leaves are easy to press and can be used to make sweet gifts. Press them between sheets of newspaper until the moisture in the flowers is gone. Then place them in a frame around a spring or Mother’s Day poem.

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March 28

Our Next Natural Phenomenon

When I walk in my neighborhood, I pass a bush with twisted branches. Have you come across a plant that grows like this with your children or students? Why would a tree or bush grow in this manner? Brainstorm a list of possibilities. A phenomenon is simply an observable event which drives student inquiry.

Did you notice the catkins? Have you seen catkins on other plants?

“Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
Click here and here to learn more about twisted plants.

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