Fun Froggy Facts

If you’re considering purchasing a pet frog or a live tadpole kit, you might want to know some fun facts about your new friends.  Frogs make great pets for children and adults alike, and learning all about their life cycle is a great introduction to the wonderful world of nature.

Live Tadpole Kit

Live Tadpole Kit

Frogs are amphibian which means they can live in water and on land.  They are born in water and the first part of their lives as a tadpole is completely in water.

A frog will shed its skin around once a week.  It will then eat the dead layer of skin!

A group of frogs is called an army!

Frogs use their eyeballs to help them swallow food; they push their eyeballs down into the roof of their mouths to help the food go down their throats.

Red Eyed Frog

Red Eyed Frog

Frogs only have teeth on their upper jaws and are used to keep prey in place when eating rather than biting.

Frogs take on water by soaking it through their skin rather than drinking it.

They also breathe through their skins as well, but they do also have nostrils that take in around half the air they need.

Common pond frogs are ready to mate when they reach 3 years old.

Tomato Frog

Tomato Frog

Frogs use their very long tongues to catch food.  And they are super-fast at it!

Frogs never close their eyes, not even when sleeping!

Frogs have amazing all-round vision, they can see ahead, sideways and upwards all at the same time.

Only male frogs croak; which they use to attract female frogs and warn off other males.

Frogs need to be around a water source so they can keep their skin cool in warm weather.

Dwarf Frog

Dwarf Frog

The largest frog in the world is called a Goliath frog and is around a foot long and weighs about 7 pounds. 

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Posted in Live Tadpole Kit, Pet Frogs | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Reasons to Teach Your Children about Nature

There are many reasons why you should spend some time with your children to teach them about the wonder of nature.

Get them to love the great outdoors

Nowadays children spend far too much time watching TV, playing video games or glued to a hand-held electronic device.  Getting them out into the open air – even if it’s raining, is a great way to get them to fall in love with outdoors.

Spending more time outside will make your child fitter and more active, increase their imagination and learn just how amazing nature can be.   Not to mention create meaningful memories that will outlast any video game.

Don’t be afraid to go out in all weathers, there is so much to see in different weather conditions, and so long as your children are wrapped up against cold or smothered in sunscreen they won’t come to any harm.   And let them get dirty!

Appreciate the beauty of nature

Beauty comes in many different shapes and forms – whether it’s a pretty spring flower or the intricate pattern on a snail’s shell.  Foster your child’s interest in nature from a young age and they will continue to love nature as they get older.

Pink spotted ladybugs

Pink Spotted Ladybugs

Teaching respect for their environment

From not dropping garbage, to realizing the importance of recycling, children who love nature will have the utmost respect for the environment.  They will understand that man’s actions could have serious consequences and that they have the power in them to change things.

For health and vitality

Children who regularly get to explore nature outside are less likely to be obese and suffer from depression.

All the senses are activated when outside; sight, sound, smell, touch and even taste under careful parental supervision.  It is a truly absorbing experience and each time they venture out they can explore somewhere new or come across a new creature or plant they find fascinating.

Spend quality time as a family

Painted Lady Caterpillar

Painted Lady Caterpillar

You don’t need to spend mega-bucks to enjoy a great family day out.  A trip to the woods or nature trail should only cost you the price of a picnic for a memorable experience.

Spending time together as a family exploring nature and discovering the joys of outside is beneficial to all members of the family, and indeed everyone can learn something new each trip.

Creating a nature based home project over the summer is a great way to spend some quality time together as well as educate your children.  Our live insect kits are great fun and really allow your children to get up close and personal to creature they would only get to catch briefly outdoors.

Once the insects become adults they can be released in your backyard or local nature spot.

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Unique Pets for Classrooms and Homeschool Learning

While we know that many classrooms and homeschoolers have pet rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs, we here at Nature Gift Store think that teachers and homeschoolers could look at alternative pets that will help their students to learn about the different types of wildlife and the biodiversity of the earth.

Choosing insects or reptiles as pets may seem like an unusual choice, but fostering the interest in these types of creatures early is a great way to ensure children are not afraid of insects and reptiles later in life.

Insects play a very important role in the ecosystem – both in terms of providing food for larger creatures and also keeping plant destroying insects at bay.  Ladybugs are a prime example of a helpful insect in the garden.

Live Ladybug KIt

Live Ladybug Kit

In addition, some insects such as worms help to aerate the soil and break down waste material into valuable and much needed compost.

Worm Farming Kit

Worm Farming Kit

Learning about insects and reptiles can be tailored so that it is age appropriate, but insects and reptiles make ideal classroom pets from kindergarten age up to high school age.

Live insect kits are perfect for teaching children about their amazing and unique life cycles. Butterflies and ladybugs, and even tadpoles, can make learning about nature fun and give children a unique opportunity to see one of the most spectacular transformations up close and personal.

2501-grow-a-frog-kit-l

Live Tadpole Kit

However, other interesting creatures can be kept happily for years as classroom pets, such as frogs, hermit crabs, ants, worms, and sea monkeys, all offering a different learning experience and a chance to befriend a fascinating and curious creature.

Hermit Crabs

Hermit Crabs

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Summer Fun with Ladybugs

If there was to be an insect which epitomizes summer, it would have to be the ladybug. Its bright red body, black spots and dainty wings makes it a favorite garden buddy for children of all ages, and keen gardeners also!

Pink spotted ladybugs

Pink Spotted Ladybugs

Not only are these little bugs super cute to look at, but they are also great for the garden as they munch on aphids and other plant eating bugs and insect eggs.

Encouraging ladybugs to your backyard is easy—ensure that there are plenty of plants and particularly early spring blooming flowers that will give a good source of nectar and pollen- and aphids!  If you want ladybugs to be regular visitors, then investing in a ladybug house will offer them shelter from wind and rain and also give them somewhere safe to over-winter meaning you’ll have them visiting very early the following year.

Ladybug House

Red Roof Ladybug House

However, you don’t need to have a backyard to enjoy ladybugs. Our live ladybug kits let you watch these amazing creatures up close and personal. In addition, you also get to study the life cycle of the ladybug from larva to fully grown adult.

The live ladybug kit is a great homeschool tool to aid with nature studies, and can also be used in classrooms for a longer, in-depth science and nature project using the library and the internet to further the study into the ladybug life cycle.

Now is the perfect time to buy a live ladybug kit. The entire lifecycle from larva to adult bug takes around two to three weeks and it is fascinating to watch this rapid transformation happen right in front of you.

Ladybug Kit

Live Ladybug Kit

Once your ladybugs have reached adulthood you can release them into your backyard, school garden or local green area where they can enjoy the rest of their life providing it is above 55º and below 85º.

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Attracting Garden-Friendly Wildlife

Many creatures can be the gardener’s best friend in the spring and summertime.  Lots of insects, birds and small animals can help in keeping down pests such as aphids and mosquitoes as well as help to pollinate the flowers and make your garden a much more interesting place.

Butterflies are an attractive addition to any garden and a vital component in pollination, although those who like to grow vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce may want to put nets over the plants so that the caterpillars don’t much their way through their crops.

To attract butterflies you need a good source of scented flowers with open nectar sources – buddleia and milkweed are very popular with butterflies.  Take time to find out which butterflies are common and which plants they prefer to feed on.

Butterfly food

Butterfly Nectar

Using a butterfly feeder if you don’t have a large backyard or many flowers is also a fantastic way to get these pretty visitors.  This specially formulated nectar will attract many different types of butterflies and should be hung in an open, but shaded space.

Attracting bees to your backyard not only helps your flowers and fruit to pollinate, but you are also doing your bit for conservation.   Mason bees in particular are friendly visitors and perfect for families with young children as they don’t possess a sting in their tale.  Whilst they don’t build a hive, so work as individuals rather than a community, if you provide shelter you will quickly find you have a large population in your garden working their magic.

Providing bird tables and bird boxes is a great way to get a variety of different bird life to visit your backyard.  If you feed them nutritious foods, preferably seeds and nuts and have an ever-ready water supply they will reward you with regular visits.  Ensure that any bird table or bird house is put in a position where predators, such as the family cat, can do them no harm.

Other animals that are beneficial to your garden are toads and ladybugs – both will happily munch on all the insects you don’t want in your garden damaging your flowers and vegetables.   Providing shelter for these will ensure they have somewhere to protect them from wind or wet weather and give them somewhere safe to stay over the winter months.

Ladybug House

Ladybug House

 

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First Signs of Spring – Caterpillars

As the plants start to bud and blossom and our world starts to look a little greener and brighter.  Gone are the cold winter days and the hazy sunshine starts to warm the earth and bring back to life the busy insect world.

With flowers inevitably comes butterflies, but first they need to start their life cycle as eggs and then caterpillars.

The butterfly life cycle is one of the most fascination transformations in nature, and is a wonder to behold to people of all ages.

Usually we don’t get to see the whole process, sure we see furry caterpillars munching their way through spring leaves, and then we see lots of pretty fluttering butterflies a few weeks later, but what happens in between is usually top secret and kept away from prying eyes.

By using live butterfly kits you can witness this compelling metamorphosis up close and personal. The kits are excellent for both homeschool and classroom nature projects, or purely as a lovely thing to do with your children to help them learn about the beauty of nature.

Live Butterfly Kit

Live Butterfly Kit

Starting out as young caterpillars the children get to watch the caterpillar slowly fatten up and then hang upside down in their chrysalis ready for the next stage of their amazing journey.

Painted Lady Caterpillar

Painted Lady Caterpillar

Watching the adult butterflies break free from their chrysalis, wait a moment to dry off, and then finally start to flutter those wings is a fantastic moment to share.

Once the butterflies have matured they can then be released outside if the temperature is over 50º, or kept inside to study further if below 50º.

Whilst you can use live butterfly kits all year round, even in winter, springtime is a fantastic time to rear butterflies as you can release them into your backyard or school garden and watch them pollinate the flowers.

The whole process from small caterpillar to adult butterfly takes around three weeks, with the first stage of caterpillar growing lasting around 7-10 days.  In this time your young students can chart their growth through photography, video or drawing and use the internet or library to study different types of caterpillars and butterflies.

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First Signs of Spring – Tadpoles

One of my earliest childhood memories of spring is of the appearance of tadpoles in a stream near our house. We would visit the stream regularly over the following weeks to see how the tadpoles had progressed, and indeed if any of them were still there and hadn’t all been gobbled up by predators.

I still find tadpole fascinating to this day.  The metamorphosis they undergo is really quite spell binding and never fails to amaze me.

Sadly I don’t live near that stream anymore or any other water where tadpoles and frogs could be seen at this time of year, but thankfully I don’t have to take my children miles for them to witness this spectacle of life as they can experience it now in their own homes.

Live Tadpole Kits are fantastic.  You can raise your very own frogs in your den, bedroom or classroom without being anywhere near a river or stream.  Better than that, you can see the transformation up close and personal so you need never miss a stage or come back one day to see that the pond is empty and all the tadpoles have been eaten.

Live Tadpole Kit

Live Tadpole Kit

The kits are great for a homeschool or classroom nature project and because the life cycle from tadpole to an adult leopard frog takes between 12 and 16 weeks there are lots of additional work you can do to complement the project.

You can track all the subtle changes on a daily basis with a digital camera, or get the children to draw the life cycle the frog goes through whilst reading about it on the internet or in a book about the subject.

The Live Tadpole Kits come complete with everything you will need to raise either one or two tadpole into adult frogs, including habitat, food, water treatment, water change cup and even a plastic plant to decorate your habitat with.  There is also a coloring page highlighting the different stages of the frog’s life cycle.

Live Tadpole Kit

Live Tadpole Kit

Once the frog (or frogs) becomes adult it can then be kept as great, easy-to-keep pet for you to study further or just enjoy their company.

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Bringing Wildlife to Your Back Yard This Spring

With spring just around the corner it is time to start thinking about the best way to attract lots of lovely visitors.

Bees, butterflies, ladybugs, birds, toads and other creatures make extremely welcome additions to any garden in the spring and summertime.  They do an excellent job of keeping down aphids and other unwanted insects that will happily graze their way through your favorite flowers and plants, as well as providing that all-important job as pollinators – vital if you want bigger and better fruits and flowers.

Planting bee and butterfly friendly plants which produce heady scents and have lots of easy to get to pollen is one way to attract pollinators and to encourage them to stick around you’ll need some kind of shelter for them to protect them from the wind and rain, and any potential predators.

We have some beautiful hand-made insect and animal houses that not only look stunning, but will provide welcome shelter for all sorts of amazing creatures.  Here are some of our favorites:

Mason Bee House

Mason bees, like all other types of bees, are on the decline in the US, mainly due to crop spraying and insecticides.  We can help to restore the balance by giving these friendly non-stinging bees a home.

This beautiful house will provide shelter for lots of mason bees who unlike their cousins the honey bee, don’t require a hive and tend to work alone rather than for a queen.  However, they do like company so this is the perfect retreat for them after a hard days pollinating.

Metal Roof Mason Bee House

Metal Roof Mason Bee House

Paint Your Own Butterfly House

We have a great selection of hand-crafted butterfly houses, but this makes a great gift for a child as they can paint and decorate it themselves.

Paint Your Own Butterfly House

Paint Your Own Butterfly House

This is best hung somewhere near to a reliable nectar source if you want butterflies to take up permanent residence, or can be used in conjunction with our live butterfly rearing kits so that when you release the adult butterflies into your garden they will stick around.

Ladybug House

If ladybugs are more your thing, then we have a selection of wooden ladybug houses to choose from.  Ladybug houses are great for attracting the creatures in the spring and providing somewhere safe for over-wintering ones to hibernate in.

Ladybug House

Ladybug House

Toad House

They may not be everyone’s favorite gardening friend, but did you know that a single toad can eat over 100 various flower eating bugs in a single day!    And we promise you don’t need to kiss them, just provide them with somewhere pretty to stay in.

Toad House

Toad House

 

 

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Mimicking Nature at Home or in the Classroom

All children love science experiments, they like to get involved and use their hands and to see the visual changes that come about from the experiments.

Experiments in the classroom or homeschool are great for showing how nature works in the big outdoors, replicating events in a small, controlled way makes studying science and nature fun and informative – more so than just reading it in a book or looking it up on the computer.

We’ve got some cool science based tools that help children to better understand the world around them.  They can be used purely as fun toys or as a accompaniment to science and nature lessons in the classroom or homeschool class.

From growing your own crystals to building a volcano, we can pique your children’s interest in the natural world.

Crystal Growing Experimental Kit

Crystal Growing Kit

Crystal Growing Kit

This large kit can be used to study 7 different crystal growing experiments.  Once the different colored crystals have grown they can then be displayed in the included cases to be kept for future reference.   This kit is ideal for older children aged 10 and over.

Magic Rocks

This classic set has been around for years and with good reason—it is every bit as fascinating and fun today as it was years ago.  Grow your own underwater rock garden in minutes.  Great for nurturing an interest in rocks and gems.

Magic Rocks

Magic Rocks

Volcano Making Kit

Everyone loves a volcano, but this miniature experiment set is perfectly safe to conduct in your own home or classroom.   Your children can cast and paint their own volcano and then watch it erupt with fizzing lava.

Volcano Making Kit

Volcano Making Kit

Pet Tornado

No need for dangerous road trips storm chasing for tornados, this miniature tornado in a can will help children to understand the physics behind one of nature’s most destructive forces.

Pet Tornado

Pet Tornado

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Winter Nature Projects – Studying Life Cycles

It may be cold and snowy outside (very snowy depending on where you live), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t study nature and enjoy learning about the life cycles of various creatures.

While we have lots of different live insect and animal kits on offer, shipping at this time of the year is often impossible due to the effect it will have on the creatures.  However, there are other ways to learn about life cycles at this time of year that are just as fun and interesting.

Coloring books and information books are great for explaining how insects and other creature evolve from larvae or tadpoles into fully formed animals.  Also, life cycle figurines are excellent for children to hold and pass around the classroom to fully understand the bodily changes that happen during the life cycle.

There are many different types of insects to study, and this method of study can be backed up in spring by using live insect kits.  The children will already know what to expect of the insects or creatures which will make the exercise more exciting and interesting to watch as the transformation happens.

Frog Life Cycle Figurines

Frog Life Cycle Figurines

Ladybug Life Cycle Figurines are soft plastic figurines that are perfect for little hands are a great introduction into the study of these favorite insects. Older children with better reading skills can also use the ‘A Ladybug Larva Grows Up’ book to further illustrate and explain the life cycle.

Ladybug Life Cycle Book

Ladybug Life Cycle Book

If you want to study butterflies, but would prefer to wait for warmer weather to buy a live butterfly kit, then we have a range of study aids that can be used in the colder months.  From books, to stickers and rubber stamps, these educational aids are perfect for homeschoolers or classrooms.

Butterfly Life Cycle Rubber Stamps

Butterfly Life Cycle Rubber Stamps

Ant farms are excellent ways to study the amazing world of ants, but if you’re shipping into a cold area below 40º then you might prefer to use figurines, books, and rubber stamps.

Life and Times of Ants

Life and Times of Ants

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