Get Your Backyard Ready for Spring Visitors

Whilst it may be wet, cold or even snowy outside, spring is just around the corner (honest!), and with spring comes an abundance of nature.

Buds appear on trees, blossoms start to spring up, pushing their way through the snow to bring life and color.

With the flowers, the insects follow quickly and the birds which feed upon them. From the stark contrast of the white, bleak winter comes a buzz of activity and the welcome hustle and bustle of nature.

Whilst the animals will come, if you want to attract a wide variety of birds and insects to your backyard there are a few things you can do to encourage them to visit and even take up permanent residence.

Attracting good, garden-friendly insects will help your plants to produce better flowers and fruits, it will also make your backyard a much more pleasant and vibrant place to sit and enjoy in the coming months.

Frogs and Toads?

Why would you want to attract frogs and toads to your backyard? Why, to eat up all the aphids of course! Plus they are rather cute in their own unique way.

Frog House

Frog House with Gnome

A frog or toad house will provide shelter in harsher weather as well as being a sweet addition to your backyard.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs are renowned for their aphid munching abilities, and are a favorite bug for children and adults alike. However, if you want to have a few of them in your backyard then providing somewhere warm for them to stay over the winter will ensure that you get them coming back year after year.

Peaked Roof Ladybug House

Peaked Roof Ladybug House

Mason Bees

These non-stinging bees are great pollinators and vital for every keen gardener to ensure the best harvest of fruits and vegetables.

Mason Bee House

Mason Bee House

Because mason bees don’t live in hives they need somewhere warm and dry to shelter in when they’re not busy collecting pollen.

Birds

Whilst the spring offers plenty of chances for birds to hunt their own food, putting a fresh supply of water and bird friendly tit-bits out on a bird table or bird feeder will ensure birds visit your backyard all year round.   A bird house will provide shelter for birds over the colder months.

Paint Your Own Bird Table

Paint Your Own Bird Feeder

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Bringing Science and Nature Indoors With Rocks and Crystals

It may be cold outside, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help your children to learn all about the natural world.

Sure, maybe a couple of feet of snow means that you’re unlikely to want to go on a nature trail, but you can learn just as much sat inside in the warmth!

Whilst many of the local wildlife are hibernating or just hiding, now is a great time to learn about other features of nature.

Rocks and stones can be found all year round, and children are usually especially attracted to them – particularly if they are shiny or colored.

Our Rock Science Kits and Gemstone Kits are fantastic for helping children understand how rocks are formed, how important they are to the earth, and of course, just how old some of these rocks can be!

Gemstone Box

Gemstone Box

Being able to hold something in your hand that could be millions of years old is amazing, and our fossil kits allow you to do just that!  Imagine that something so small was once a living animal crawling around on the earth way before the first man was!

Fossil Gift Boxes

Fossil Gift Boxes

Even better than that is to be able to mine your own crystals and geodes, our kits provide all the tools you need, along with crystals to break open and keep forever!

Break Your Own Geode

Break Your Own Geode

As much as children like to be able to handle, hold and touch things, they also really love to experiment and see things grow.  Imagine how much fun they would have watching crystals grow before their very eyes and to be able to show their friends and family the end results!

Using rock, crystal and fossil kits is a great way to teach children about both history and science and nature.  They can use the internet or the local library to help them further understand how rocks and crystals are formed, or one of our great guide books will prove a usual reference that they will treasure.

Gemstone Book

Gemstone Book

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Easy to Care for Pets for Small Spaces – Sea Monkeys and Triops

Want to look after a pet that different, yet really, really cool?  Well, have you considered sea monkeys or triops?

Often called living fossils, these small creatures raised from eggs which can be laid dormant for years until the right temperature and water conditions awaken them.

Triops Kits

Triassic Triops Kit

Whilst these sea animals are called sea monkeys, or triops for the larger varieties, they are in fact a type of brine shrimp and are very easy to care for and great fun to watch while they grow.

Coming to life almost instantly when they make contact with the water, the sea monkeys or triops will continue to grow until they reach anything from one to three inches long.

It usually takes around a month for them to become fully formed, and if they are looked after correctly they can live for up to two years.

Sea Monkeys Magic Castle

Sea Monkeys Magic Castle

 

One of the best things about keeping sea monkeys or triops is that they are so easy to look after.  They only need feeding around once a week, which is great if you want to go on vacation and have no-one to babysit your pets!  Just keep them out of direct sunlight and you can’t go wrong!

Once your sea monkeys are fully grown they love to swim around and dance.  Using a light pen trace the light around the aquarium and watch how they chase and follow the light.  If you keep the pen still they will congregate around the light. They will often also follow your figure if you draw it across the outside of the tank.

Sea Monkeys Mars Explorer

Sea Monkeys Mars Explorer

We have a variety of different sea monkey and triops aquariums, from glow in the dark to space themes and magic castles, complete with everything you need to start your sea monkey journey.

Want to know a really amazing fact about sea monkeys?  They have even been into space!  Astronaut John Glenn (who was 77 years young at the time) decided to take 400 million sea monkey eggs on the Discovery with him, the eggs were then hatched eight weeks later when safely back on Earth.

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5 Cool and Educational Stocking Filler Ideas for Christmas

Are you looking for fun, exciting yet educational toys for your children for Christmas this year?

We have a great selection of toys which help children understand various aspects of the world around them, from how the weather works to fossils, rocks and crystals and even basic physics.

Here are a few of our favorite stocking fillers, which all come in at under $20 making them ideal for gifts for relatives and friends as well as supplements to other, bigger presents.

Pet Tornado

There is no need to chase twisters across the country to educate your children on this forceful phenomenon of nature, this tornado in a can works in exactly the same way as a real tornado, but without the trail of devastation.

Pet Tornado

Pet Tornado

 

Mini Plasma Ball

No home science kit can be complete without a plasma ball.  Children of all ages (and adults) with be fascinated with the electrical dance created by the ball.  Watch as the electrical bolts of lightning move outwards towards the ball, but see how they change if you put your hand near the ball.

Mini Plasma Ball

Mini Plasma Ball

Volcano Making Kit

Your children can have a great afternoon sculpting and painting their very own mini volcano and then watching it erupt time and time again.

Volcano Making Kit

Volcano Making Kit

A great way of teaching children about this destructive force of nature and be used as a classroom or homeschool nature project to support studying some of the world’s largest and still active volcanoes.

Magic Rocks

Rocks hold the fascination of many children and with this great little kit, your children can actually grow their own magic rocks.

Magic Rocks

Magic Rocks

The rocks will start growing under water within minutes, and can grow up to 4” big.  A great way to spend a rainy afternoon and the finished rocks can be kept in the clear plastic tank to display.

Crystal Mining

Children will be able to excavate their very own treasure with this crystal mining kit.  Each kit contains 8 different embedded and the tools needed to unearth them.  They can then be examined closer under a magnifying glass and then kept in a display case or the drawstring pouch provided.

Crystal Mining Kit

Crystal Mining Kit

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Fossil Fun for Kids

Lots of children are really interested in rocks, crystals and stones and avidly collect them.  They like the different shapes, the smoothness, and the different colors they can find.

Taking their interest a step further to help them understand how these rocks and stones have been formed, and how many years they have been on the earth is a great chance to educate them in the natural world without them even realizing they have had a ‘class’.

Kids love smooth, shiny and sparkly rocks and stones, but they also love prehistoric!  Increasing their rock interest by adding fossils is a fantastic opportunity for them to expand their knowledge and take their personal collection to another level.

Perfect for Christmas stocking fillers for the budding paleontologist in your life, we have a range of fossil kits that will keep your child entertained for hours on end and want to show their collection to all their friends and relatives.

Fossil Gift Boxes

Fossil Gift Boxes

Your child will be able to tell the difference between ammonite, gastropods, orthoceras, and crinoid stems, as well as wow everyone with their knowledge of where the fossils came from and how many hundreds of thousands of years old they are, maybe even millions!

Set of 2 Fossils

Set of 2 Fossils

Use the fossil collections as a starting point for learning all about fossils on the internet, or use as part of a homeschool or a classroom science and nature project.   Explore the world before our time, the land of cavemen, and before that of dinosaurs to truly open up the imagination and wonder that natural history possesses.

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Art Projects with a Difference – Sun Art Paper

Coming up with new and exciting art projects for children can be difficult, and let’s face it, there is only so much glitter you can face vacuuming up…

However, with sun art paper you can make fascinating creations that not require glue, glitter or any scraps of paper to dispose of.

All you need is a sunny day and some water!

Sun Art Paper

Sun Art Paper

This amazing paper uses the sun to create a picture not unlike a photograph negative, it’s great fun to experiment with different items such as feathers, twigs, flowers, leaves, cardboard shapes, and even lacy fabrics – anything that will leave an interesting outline or pattern on the sheet.  Just simply arrange on the sheet until you’re happy with the pattern and then cover with the acrylic sheet provided, which will keep everything in place whilst the magic happens.

You can create different shades on the paper too, the longer you leave your paper in the sun the darker the outlines will be.  You can also create a layered effect by moving your items around the paper from time to time to resulting in different levels of shading.

Incorporate the seasons with the Sun Art Paper by searching the backyard for seasonal flowers or wonderful fall leaves.

Sun Art Paper

Sun Art Paper

The Sun Art Paper can also be used to create amazing snowflake designs which would be perfect as part of your Christmas decorations.  Simply cut out snowflakes and place them on the paper and leave in the sun for the desired length of time.

The finished art projects can be mounted and displayed or put into a scrap book.  If you do choose to hang your Sun Art on the wall then be sure to place it out of direct sunlight.

Sun Art Paper is suitable for children aged 6 and over.  For other great science and nature based toys, be sure to visit our website.

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Not All Bugs Are Spooky Halloween Baddies!

Halloween gives bugs a bad rap!  Cobwebs and creepy crawlies are used in a lot of decorations at this time of year, so we thought we stand up for the little guys.

Whilst most insects and arachnids aren’t very cuddly or strokeable, it doesn’t mean that they are not fun and interesting.

We can learn so much from the insect world, how they work together, their place in the diversity of nature, and marvel at just how beautiful and magnificent they are.

Live insect kits are a great way to learn about different types of insects in a controlled environment.  From observing and understanding the lifecycles of butterflies and ladybugs to seeing how members of an ant colony will interact with each other on a daily basis gives both children and adults alike a new found respect and love for this strange and alien world of bugs.

Ladybug Kit

Live Ladybug Kit

Ideal for both school classrooms and homeschool activities, live insect kits can be used for children of all ages.  As well as watching and studying the insects, other subjects can be incorporated such as art, photography and videoing, spelling and teaching children how to research subjects in a library or on the internet.

Color Changing Ant Habitat

Color Changing Ant Habitat

One of the advantages of studying insects using live insect kits is that they can be used at any time of the year.  The insects will happily live out their natural life cycle with the equipment and habitat provided, or can be released into the wild once they reach adulthood if the weather is favorable.

 

Live butterfly kit

Learn all about the life cycle of a butterfly with a live butterfly kit

So next time you shudder at a spider or shriek at a wriggly worm, remember just how important they are to the ecosystem and that they are actually good guys not bad!

Worm Farming Kit

Worm Farming Kit 

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Fascinated with Fossils and Rocks?

Are you and (or) your children fascinated with fossils?  Do you wander at the mysteries they hold and delight at the fact that you can see something that has been around for hundreds of thousands, upon thousands of years?

Whilst most fossils are held in public museum in glass cages out of the way, there are small fossils that can be bought that can be held and touched and investigated up close.

These great little fossil gift boxes contain different types of fossils – perfect for starting your collection of the prehistoric!  Each box contains one ammonite, two gastropods and two pieces of crinoid stem and you get two boxes, giving you a total of 10 fossils that could be over a million years old!  Great for show and tell, or for a homeschool natural history project.

Fossil Gift Boxes

Fossil Gift Boxes

If rocks and gem stones are more your thing, than we can certainly help in that area as well.  We have a great selection of rock kits including this great starter rock science kit which has 15 different types of rocks, covering the Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary types of rocks.

Rock-Science-Kit

Learning about where in the world these types of rocks can be found, how they are formed and how long it takes can make a very interesting science topic for children of all ages.   To help them to understand just how amazing the world of rocks is, buy our Rocks for Kids book which will teach you all you ever wanted to know about rocks.

Rock books for children

Looking At Rocks

However, it doesn’t have to take a few millennia to grow rocks, in fact with this amazing Magic Rocks kit you can start growing your own rocks in a matter of minutes!

Magic Rocks

Magic Rocks

The rocks grow to various heights up to 4 inches high and make an attractive rock garden when finished which you can keep forever.   It is available in two different sizes, the large size comes complete with its own plastic display tank.

 

 

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The Fascinating World of Ants

Ants really are quite amazing creatures, they ability to work together, the way they combine their strength to achieve feats which should, on balance, be impossible given their size.

However, we are only just beginning to understand the complex and fascinating world of these tiny bugs. This video shows an ant colony in Africa and even the scientists involved were totally blown away at the structure – both its size and intricacy.  The project certainly became much bigger and great involved than anyone ever expected, and you see why!

Ant farms are a fantastic way to get an insight into the world of ants – without the need for concrete and heavy excavation machinery. They are a perfect way to show inquisitive young minds how ants go about their busy daily lives and how they work as a colony – constantly helping and looking out for each other.

We have a great range of ant farms, of different sizes, shapes and colors. You can even get a total ant farm eco-system where you can grow plants out of the same gel that sustains, homes and feeds the ants.   Perfect for class room nature study projects or homeschool projects.

Giant Lighted Eco System Ant Habitat

Giant Lighted Eco System Ant Habitat

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Top 3 Best Selling Classroom Nature Projects

With the children all back at school or homeschool, it is time to turn our attention to nature projects.

Children can learn so much from nature, but you don’t need to be outside to appreciate nature, some of our live insect and animal kits make it easy to study close-up these amazing creatures in the classroom.

1.  Ant Farms

Ant farms are great for showing just how industrious these little creature really are. Seemingly constantly on the move, ants work together in great harmony and we have a great selection of different ant farms that will enthrall your young students.

Our ant farms are made with either gel or sand so you can see the ants actively digging their tunnels and we include everything you need for your ant viewing pleasure.  This amazing ant farm is a complete eco-system.

Ecosystem Ant Habitat

Ecosystem Ant Habitat

2.  Live Butterfly Kits

Our amazing live butterfly kits can be used all year round – yes, even in Winter!  However, if you choose to study the life cycle of butterflies in the early fall you can release your adult butterflies outdoors so they can enjoy the last dregs of summer.

With different kit sizes available, the live butterfly kit can be used for family fun, homeschool project or a classroom project.

Live Butterfly Kit

Live Butterfly Kit

3. Ladybug Kits

Ask a child what his or her favorite bug is and they will probably say “a ladybug”.  Like the butterfly kits, these live ladybug kits can be used all-year-round, but the adult insects can be released outside if the weather is still warm.

Delight at how the children will rush into the classroom each morning to see how the larvae have grown and whether they can see the emergence of wings yet.  It takes around two to three weeks for the larvae to turn into adult ladybugs, plenty of time for children to learn about their life cycle, before their interest starts to wane.

Ladybug Kit

Live Ladybug Kit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Homeschool Projects, Live Animal Kits, Live Ant Farms, Live Butterfly Kit, Live Ladybug kits | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment