The kids are out of school for the summer but that doesn’t mean the learning needs to be put on hold. Your yard is a virtual classroom if you know where to look. Here are two lessons waiting for your kids:
Animal tracks can be a fun mystery for you and your kids to solve. In fact, you might be shocked at how common it is that a coyote or fox has passed through your yard at night. Look for tracks in mud, garden soil, sand or snow, or create a “track trap” by using smooth, damp sand with bait such as peanut butter, chicken or dog food. Then identify who came to visit by comparing the tracks to this site.
Butterfly eggs are tiny, but they’re easy to find if you know where to look. Watch for butterflies on warm, sunny afternoons. If you don’t see one in your back yard, attract them with an overripe banana. Butterflies visit two kinds of plants: a nectar plant, where they eat; and a host plant, where they lay eggs. When you spot a butterfly, watch if it lands on a flower. If it does, it’s there to sip nectar. If it lands on a leaf for a short period of time, there’s a good chance it’s laying eggs. After the butterfly leaves, take your children to the leaf and look for tiny eggs, which are sphere or oval shaped. Eggs can be white, yellow, green or black. When they hatch, usually five to 14 days later depending on the species, you’ll see small caterpillars making a meal out of the leaf they were laid on.