Friday, September 8, 2017

How do Animals Help Seeds Travel?

Guest post by Jennifer from

In this fun educational project, children discover firsthand how animals can help distribute seeds in order to spread them across the land.

Many plants grow from seeds – their seeds are like baby plants. Seeds move around; that’s how plants start growing in new places. How do seeds move? Do mama trees push their seeds in dirt strollers? Of course not! One way seeds travel is by catching rides on animals: a seed in one place gets stuck to an animal’s fur, the animal moves, and then the seed falls off in another place. The animals help DISTRIBUTE the seeds.

Experiment Questions:
  • Did you catch any seeds by acting like animals in your yard (or playground or park or nature area)?
  • Did some fur catch more seeds than others?
  • Did different kinds of fur catch different kinds of seeds?
  • Did some seeds stick to fur better than other seeds?
  • What about the seeds helped them to stick?

What You Need:
  • Socks
  • Scraps of fake fur in different textures
  • Glue
  • An outdoor area with lots of plants

What You Do:
  1. Glue the scraps of fur onto the old socks.
  2. After the glue dries, pull the socks on over your shoes.
  3. Go play outside in your yard or playground or park or nature area.
  4. If there are more kinds of socks than kids, change socks now and then to give all the socks a try.
  5. At the end of your play, remove the socks and examine them carefully. Think about the research questions above.
  6. Talk about the plants and animals you have in your outdoor areas and how you think they help one another.


Jess Note:

I  think my three year old would love to play pretend and be an animal carrying seeds around. I can't wait to try out the experiment though right now, everything around us is pretty brown and barren. I can see this being more effective during dandelion and prickly grasses(/high allergy) season. I'll circle back with how the lesson went at our house.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

It didn't seem all too long ago we were blogging about the last solar eclipse that was visible in our area. Five years flies by!! My then 3-year-old is now 8, and the newbie is now 3!

A solar eclipse is where the sun is blocked by the moon. A total solar eclipse is where the sun is completely blocked by the moon. A total solar eclipse in a particular area is fairly rare. The last one in the US was 1979. There's another one in 2024 crossing over Texas. Always take proper precaution when viewing eclipses, especially when viewing them with children.

We knew the eclipse was coming. We even have family in the Salem, Oregon area. We also knew that 1. Oregon isn't 100% predictable for August weather (I moved into college in Portland on a super rainy day somewhere around the 20th of August many moons ago). 2. School would already be in session for J (and missing a few days during the second week of school for something that didn't seem to be a guarantee of a good view seemed a little irresponsible). 3. We hate crowds and traffic.

Anyways, ~75% seemed good enough for me. The elementary school bought each student a pair of eclipse glasses and took the kids out during extremely well supervised (by parents/adults) increments to view the different stages, and they had a fun coloring/maker-type activity displaying the different phases of the total solar eclipse. At my daughter's preschool, the younger classes (of which my daughter is in) did not participate in the special event though they did talk about it.

There was an impromptu viewing party at my work. I even made my company's social media page while viewing the eclipse. That's pretty fun. Here are my personal pictures from the event.

The glasses were on, but the sun was hiding behind the clouds over my left shoulder (As it started, the sky was foggy in our area and super clear in Oregon, go figure).

Finally a part in the clouds as the eclipse just started (cell phone picture taken through the solar eclipse glasses):

Our maximum coverage from the Bay Area, CA. Since it was cloudy/foggy to begin with and only ~75% coverage, we didn't see too much noticeable change in light.

Yes, I work at a pretty nerdy place. Someone grabbed a colander (lazy or not, this is a great substitute for a pinhole projector), and I suggested propping up the glasses in the picture.

Explore more:
NASA has a great rundown of the Total Solar Eclipse and what you can do the next time one is in your area.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quick and Easy Pi Day Fun!

Our family's favorite time of year is approaching, Pi Day!! Last year (and probably this year too), I didn't have a lot of time to devote to Pi Day Celebrations. Sad, I know.

Last year, we had just returned from a week long family vacation at Disney World and were too exhausted to bake a traditional Pi(e) or go grocery shopping (and it fell on a Monday, boo), let alone blog about it in a timely manner.

Here's our quick and easy way that we celebrated Pi Day (March 14, ~3.14):

We made English Muffin Pi-zzas with English muffins cut in half, a tablespoon or so of store marina sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and 3 pepperonis (because Pi is around 3). I didn't take note of the time, but we baked in the oven, at 350 deg F, until the cheese was melted and slightly browned.

Then we decorated our (boxed) cake we baked the night before in our (affiliate link) Pi mold. It was quick and simple.

And the kids enjoyed it!

As always, we took our annual Pi Day Family Photo in our Pi gear (the kids' paternal grandma makes the kiddos special shirts on her embroidery machine, lucky!!). Last year it was Mud Pi!

Wondering how else to spend the day celebrating Pi? Check out the Pi Day Fun that we've had in years past. My favorite has been the Pi-rate Treasure Hunt! I hope your Pi Day Party goes well!