Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

Noticing Nature – February

The Noticing Nature series to spark interest and provide simple activities to be enjoyed by teens. It amazing to see things you may have not noticed before when you start looking!

It won’t be long now! How do I know spring is near? Well, the groundhog didn’t tell me. My Forsythia bush did! Every year about this time when all is drabby, the back corners of my yard begin to brighten up with brilliant hues of yellow. A beautiful reminder that winter is winding down. Where I live, that doesn’t mean winter is over. We have had some of our biggest snows in late February and March. The Forsythia bushes were here when we moved in years ago, and it’s just something I can’t help but notice. In a few weeks, the pollen levels will be high, the humidity will be creeping up, and the next thing you know, it’s summer! As someone who has lived all my life in the south and is a humidity hater, I’ll enjoy these last weeks of winter, no matter what the groundhog predictions are!

Things to Notice in February

  • While most trees are still bare, look up! Nests are easy to spot, and I spotted something like a cocoon just the other day. After a little research, it is a midge (wasp) and that cocoon is actually a gall pocket. I learned that they are a strong weapon against aphids – who knew? See, it pays to look up – you never know what you will learn!
  • Speaking of nests, the Great Backyard Bird Count is February 14-17 this year. It’s free, fun, and in as little as 15 minutes, you and your kids can contribute to the research of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society  Print off a participation certificate, and enter the photo contest if you choose.
  • Feed the birds that you counted with these cute DIY Cookie Cutter Feeders.
  • Gather sticks (keep reading to find out why).
  • Locate and learn about lichens. I was aware of their ability to indicate air quality, but was fascinated when I found this article, and learned that they are “composite organisms” made up of two, or maybe three or four, completely different kinds of organisms.” How cool is that?
  • Learn how to estimate the height of a tree before they thicken up and are more difficult to separate.
  • Paint rock hearts or an encouraging word to hide in your community that can last all month long. Don’t forget Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17th.
  • My favorite is finding hearts in nature. When you start looking, you’ll be amazed how many you find. Looking for something specific causes us to look around a little more closely. This can be a fun scavenger hunt for the family, or a contest for a group of teens. Turn those “hearts” into a cool collage! I took a brief look around the perimeter of my yard and found several “hearts”. Check out the shape of the snake I discovered on Valentine’s Day!

About those sticks…..

I had a couple of Pinterest wins this month! One was a yarn-wrapped letter. Teens love monogrammed things, so try this fun activity and make your initial with sticks, a glue gun, and yarn or string! Be very gentle when gluing/wrapping!

Paint found sticks and wire together for a heart decoration! This pin has been on my board for sometime, and I finally decided to try it! I didn’t see any instructions, but it looked self-explanatory. I got some floral wire from the Dollar Tree, but I would get a thinner gauge wire next time. Still, I think it was a fun craft, and it looks great on my porch!

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