Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Break

Hi Everyone!  I've thought long and hard and I think that I will be taking a Christmas break from posting new activities during the month of December.  I hope you won't mind to much, but there are so many great seasonal things to do this month that I'm sure not many of us have much time to spare. 

Before Christmas I wanted to review a few of our favorite science books and toys.  All are reasonably priced and would make great gifts for your litte scientist.

My kids LOVED Insect Lore's butterfly pavillion.  It was a easy, fun, educational experience and a great gift to have.  If you have a really small space there is a smaller version of this called the Butterfly Garden.   I highly recommend this version.  Because we had the larger version we had more room to see our butterflies flying.  Also we were able to collect and keep black swallowtail butterflys from our garden all summer to keep up the fun for free.  Because our tent was the large size it was super easy to keep our butterflies fed by putting a whole potted parsley plant inside.

We like it so much that the kids have the worm farm and lady bug gardens on thier Christmas list this year.

This picture is of Max and Evie the day we released our first butterflies.  Evie said she was, "A little bit happy, and a little bit sad".  I have kept the pavillion which flattens to store and I am sure that we will be using it again in the future, maybe even this summer.

While you are at it, you might want the following picture books to help your children understand what they are seeing. 
From Caterpillar to Butterfly featured the painted lady butterflies available with the Butterfly Pavilion and got my kids talking about "Metamorphasis" and "Chrysalis" in a advanced enough way to get the grandparents bragging.  Find it on Amazon or at your local book store.

For younger readers, Usborne has a beautifully illustrated hardback picture book called The Butterfly.   While it is a little less scientific than the book above.  It is lots of fun and my children pick it often off of our bookshelf for reading time.

My kids also really like the Backyard Safari Field Scope.  While the optics aren't adult grade, it is by far the easiest magnifying glass for them to use and the added light makes it easier for them to see what they are looking at.  They got them for Easter last year and though they tend to be muddy (they live in our outside toy box) they are still being used pretty often and are not broken by our notably rough handeling.

Admittedly I am quite biased, but I also wanted to recommend some awesome Usborne Books  that correspond to the activites we have done this year.  Here is what we have been reading this fall:

See Inside the Human Body - My children LOVE this book, sometimes to the point of fighting over it. It is a lift-the-flap board book with tons of flaps on each page and while some of the content is above a preschoolers head (targeted to 7 year olds) I can easily edit the information down to what they can understand. The digestive and circulatory systems are thier absolute favorite parts. This is definitely a book that will grow with them.

Usborne Description:
Follow your food as it travels through your body. Take a deep breath and explore your lungs. Let your mind boggle at what your brain can do. This exciting book, packed with lively illustrations and fascinating flaps, is bursting to reveal your body's amazing secrets.
I'm a Pill Bug - Ever since we had pill bug visitors while learning about bugs my children have been choosing this book a few times every week.  From where they live to thier intriging cube shaped poop, this book give kids an indepth view of the world of the pill bug.  It even includes instructions about how to keep a pill bug pet for observation.

For Christmas this year my son will be recieving Nighttime Lift-the-Flap.  I can't give his opinion yet, but having played with it myself I am pretty sure that I will be doing a lot of reading. 

Usbornes decription: 
Lift the flaps in this beautiful book and you’ll see what animals do while you are asleep. Cats prowl, mice scuttle, owls swoop and bats flutter across the pages, capturing the atmosphere of nighttime in different places around the world.


Disclosure:  I will recieve money if you use the links above to buy any of these products.  Feel free to not use the links, although I believe they represent the best available price for each item.  This includes both links and links to my personal home business website for Usborne Books and More -  The purpose of this post it to share products that we actually use and love in our home.  However, I figured that since I was going to be endorsing these particular products in any case, it might as well make it easy for you, and profitable for me :  )

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