Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Everyday learning.

We are extremely blessed to live in a area that is rich with nature and offers a plethora of experiences for learning. Although, i send my son to school where he reads about and studies the life cycle of Frogs and butterflies. At home he gets to experience it and learn first hand.

Every spring, we collect tadpoles or frog eggs when ever we can find them, and bring them home to watch them transform into frog.

Kenan found these guys and brought them home for us. They had just hatched from their eggs and were extremely tiny. We've been enjoying watching them grow.
Tadpoles are very easy to keep. i have them in an aquarium, filled with a couple inches of creek water, and a couple handfuls of 'creek gunk'. The dead leaves, and other rotting organic matter where you would normally find tadpoles hiding. The like to hide under he leaves, and they eat the organic matter as it breaks down. i also give them a sprinkle of fish foods flakes now and again.

i'll be posting more pictures as they grow, and begin to develop legs and lungs. We release them down at the creek once they become frogs.

Every year we gather Monarch caterpillars off of the milkweed plants that grow on the edges of the road. We rescue them from the county mowers that come by and mow everything down. We have enjoyed watching the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. We have even witnessed caterpillar eggs hatching, from eggs attached to milkweed we have brought home. The process never seems any less amazing.

Last year, we found a swallowtail caterpillar munching happily on my carrots. So we brought it in to raise, and release. i blogged about it here on my family blog. That was the first time we had raised a swallowtail, and it was interesting to see the difference in the chrysalis.

This week we stumbled across a little caterpillar and brought him inside to identify.

We were excited to find out that our little caterpillar is a Great Spangled Fritillary. These butterflies are extremely common around our yard, but this is the first time we've found a caterpillar. We did a bit of research and found that it's host food is Sweet violets, which we have growing in abundance. So we decided to keep him inside, and watch him grow.
i created a semi-natural habitat, but planting some sweet violets in the bottom of a large pickle jar. i also added some dried leaves, and a few rocks and sticks. Unlike the monarchs and swallowtails, these fritillary butterflies create their chrysalis underneath rocks and logs. He seems quite content in his new home, munching away on the sweet violets.

What would spring be without new little peeps? We have been raising chickens for around 4 years now, and it has been such a wonderful learning experience for everyone. The kids have experienced the cycle of life, with brand new peeps and also death. We have many predators in our area, so loosing a chicken although heartbeaking...is part of life. The kids learn basic animal care and responsibility, feeding, watering and helping to collect eggs. They also learn first hand where the eggs come from (no, not the supermarket), and get to experience baby chicks hatching.
Everyday, we step out our door and are amazing by the world around us. We identify new weeds, wild flowers, butterflies and bugs. We plant things, and grow things and we never stop learning.


  1. Oh, seeing your chicks makes me wish we were doing chicks this year. I miss the little "peep peeps". You have a lovely variety of caterpillars.

  2. Can't wait to see how the caterpillar grows and changes into a butterfly. :) We have similar violets (wild?) in our yard... in abundance. But, I'm thinking your must live in a similar "climate" that we do... just a hunch.