Ten Fun Arbor Day Facts That Willow-maze You

Arbor Day Out Door Toys BinocularsDazzle friends and family with these amazing Arbor Day facts! Then download this awesome activity sheet from the Nancy B’s Science Club™ Nature Keeper & Tree Diary, full of engaging ways to help your own budding botanist celebrate this special day.

1. Green & Gorgeous
Roughly 1/3 of America is covered by forests.

2. Keep on Trunkin’
Every six years in Japan, local men careen down the side of a mountain sitting atop enormous tree trunks. This wild ride is part of the 12,000 year old Onbashira festival – hundreds of thousands come to watch and yes, riders have been killed.

3. Should It be “Chemis-TREE”?
Several legal (and illegal) drugs – including aspirin, chemotherapy drugs, and ecstasy – are produced from chemicals found in trees.

4. Different States, Different Dates
Arbor Day is celebrated on different dates in different states, according to the best planting seasons. Originating in Nebraska with settlers who missed the trees of their hometowns, the first Arbor Day was proposed by tree-loving politician and newspaper editor J Sterling Morton in 1872.

5. Barking Up the Wrong Tree
The world’s most dangerous tree, according to the Guinness Book of World’s Records, is the Machineel tree. Found mostly in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the tree’s dripping sap causes skin blistering and blindness and eating the fruit causes ulcerations of the mouth and esophagus.

6. Breathe Easy
Just one tree can product up to 260 pounds of oxygen each year. So two mature trees can make enough oxygen for a family of four – each year!

7. We Hope She Brought a Book
In 1997 activist Julia Butterfly Hill began a logging protest that lasted more than two years – she spent the entire time sitting in a California redwood tree.

8. Hellloooo up there!
The tallest tree in the U.S. can be found in California’s Redwood National Park. This Coast Redwood is 369 feet tall and more than 2000 years old!

9. Tutti Frutti
A single grafted tree in New York can bear up to 40 different fruits, including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, and cherries

10. Where am I?
You can use a tree as a compass. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rings on a tree stump will be slightly thicker on the southern side, which receives more sunlight.

(Compiled from SaveATree.com, TreePeople.org, LandArchs.com, and ArborDay.org)

Celebrate Earth Day! Three Wild Ways to Make Environmentalism More Meaningful

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April 22 marks the 45th annual Earth Day celebration and a great opportunity to introduce your kids to the importance of protecting our planet! Planting a tree, participating in a coastal clean-up, and picking up litter are great, eco-friendly activities, but if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, give these three Earth Day exploration activities for kids a go. They’re sure to make a lasting impression on your little ones, inspiring a lifetime of healthy living and environmentalism.

  1. Eat Your Words!
    Visit a local farm and discuss how purchasing locally-grown produce saves transportation energy, and how certain foods take less energy to grow than others (beans take much less energy to farm than livestock, for example). Then hit the grocery store – preferably one that sells local produce – and help your child choose and cook a healthy dinner. Be sure to use cloth napkins, not paper, and share any leftovers with neighbors to minimize waste!

  2. Step Away from the Car – All Day!
    Walking to school is one thing, but can your family go all day without burning any fossil fuel? Could you walk to the store and back or take the bus to soccer practice? If that’s not feasible, coordinate a carpool with other parents to cut down on gas and oil usage. It just takes one day to increase your family’s awareness of our dependence on fossil fuels.

  3. Take a Closer Look.
    Check out the water near your home with the GeoSafari Jr. Aqua Magnifier. Simply scoop water from any lake, creek, river, or beach and view the contents through the three magnifiers. It’s a guaranteed catch: you’ll find oodles of Plankton and other microscopic critters! Now try this again in your bathtub or sink to see how clean your tap water is, and discuss what your community does to purify your water sources. Talk about what happens in communities without access to clean drinking water and research some of the solutions scientists are working on to help.

  4. Swap, Not Shop!
    Ask your kids to go through their toys and find a few gently-used but still-working toys. Coordinate a toy swap with your parent friends and let the kids “shop” for new toys rather than buying them. Discuss where non-recyclable (particularly plastic) items go when they’re thrown away and Google photos of landfills. Trading toys rather than tossing them is a great way to “reduce, reuse, and recycle!”

There’s a Magical, Miniature World – Right in Your Own Backyard!

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Get up close and personal with nature, through the amazing power of magnification! There are truly unbelievable details in nearly everything you find outdoors (and in, for that matter!), and magnifying glass activities are fun for the whole family. Teach your kids to look deeper by examining natural finds with a microscope or other magnifiers! EI’s GeoSafari® Jr. Science Utility Vehicle™ is a fun way to introduce magnification to young children, and our GeoSafari Adventure Pens are the perfect, portable scientific tool for older kids.

Some particularly spectacular, every day outdoor objects to magnify include:

Leaves – look for the veins!
Bark – check out the texture!
Snake or spider skin – is it translucent? Transparent?
Feathers - are the edges smooth or frayed? Can you see a pattern?
Blades of grass – are the edges smooth or rough?
Sand – see the millions of mini granules?
Dirt – what is dirt made of? What colors do you see?
Moss – can you find a stem? Leaves?
Insects – how many body parts does it have?
Pond or Ocean water – is there anything swimming in your specimen?

Your kids won’t believe the discoveries they can make when they take a closer look. And if you really want to take an even closer look, check out these images from the GeoSafari Talking Electron Microscope™ – you won’t believe your eyes!

At EI, we believe in sharing, and we bet you do, too, so please don’t forget to share this post with your friends!

Get Outside and Explore with a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt Activities

A scavenger hunt is a great way to add some structure to outdoor exploration – and kids love it! Make a list of natural springtime finds, arm your child with a magnifying glass, binoculars and a marker (they love to check things off as they find them!), and get out there! Be sure to include natural items that are easy to spot in your neighborhood, as well as a few more challenging finds. Below is a list of kid’s scavenger hunt ideas to get you started:

1. Bird feathers
2. Bird nests (No need to disturb it! Just spot it and check it off!)
3. Grass seedlings or other new growth
4. New leaves
5. Flower blooms
6. Moss
7. Caterpillars
8. Cocoons
9. Butterflies
10. Baby animals (ducklings, squirrels, gophers…)

Encourage creative observation and discovery by adding open-ended prompts to your list, such as:

  • Something golden (or any other color)
  • Something huge
  • Something tiny
  • Something new
  • Something old
  • Something in nature that starts with the letter A, B, C, etc.

You can even bring some finds home for magnified observation under a microscope – just be sure you aren’t disturbing anything living. Talk about your discoveries, using scientific vocabulary, or take it one step further by writing about what you’ve found. And don’t forget to take the same route next season and compare and contrast!

At EI, we believe in sharing, and we bet you do, too, so please don’t forget to share this post with your friends!

Easy-Peasy Rainbow Prancer Unicorn Horn Craft

Step 5 - Unicorn Horn Craft

To celebrate National Unicorn Day, we have a very special craft just for you: a Wear-with- Flair Rainbow Prancer Unicorn Horn! What kind of unicorn are you? Show off your Prancer style in minutes, and be sure to share your dazzling creations with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Here’s what you’ll need:
• Fancy paper of your choosing (Glitter paper, construction paper, or cardstock)
• Washi tape or ribbon
• Elastic cording
• Hole punch
• Sticker gems, pom poms or other methods of bedazzlement
• Scissors
• Glue or double-sided tape
• Markers or crayons
• Our printable Rainbow Prancer horn template

Step 1: Download the Rainbow Prancer horn template. Print out on your favorite fancy paper, color to best reflect your unicorn style, and cut out the shape along the dotted lines.

Fold into a cone, then secure with glue or double-sided tape.
Step 1 of Unicorn Craft Activity

Step 2: Punch holes on either side of cone as marked. Thread the elastic cording through and secure with knots.
Step 2 - Unicorn Horn Craft

Step 3: Embellish your Rainbow Prancer horn with washi tape or by gluing colorful ribbon around the horn.
Step 3 Unicorn Horn Craft

Step 4: Bedazzle with sticky gems, pom poms, or glitter!
Step 4 - Unicorn Horn Craft

Step 5: Wear your newly bedazzled horn with flair, and proudly prance with a fellow Rainbow Prancer.
Unicorn Horn Craft

That’s it! Be sure to share your Unicorn style with us on Facebook or Instagram!