We have caterpillars! The eggs that we watched a Black Swallowtail butterfly lay in the garden a few days ago have hatched and the little caterpillars have begun eating the leaves. Hopefully our weather will stay mild and be better suited to their growth than last year's hot summer. If so, within a couple weeks we should have a few big caterpillars to catch so we can watch them transform!

...And, we finally got our first taste out of our garden!  There were lots of beautiful snap peas ready for us to pick today!  We learned how to tell if the pod is ready to be picked (fat, not skinny!), and we learned the best way to pick the peas so that the whole plant doesn't come with!  None of the peas actually made it to the house, though...they were just to delicious to save! :)
We got to watch a Black Swallowtail butterfly lay some eggs in the garden today! And so the cycle begins again! We are all excited for these eggs to turn into tiny little caterpillars, so we can watch them grow and change as we have for several years now. I think this might be the first time we have gotten to see the egg portion of the life cycle though, so that was new and exciting. If you would like to read more about our adventures in caterpillar-raising, click here!


Today was a great day to play with anything cool so we got out some colored ice cubes that I had been saving.

The kids had fun laying them out on some of our tree rounds, watching the colors melt together, noticing how quickly they melted in the sun,

...burying them in the sand,

...and even adding them into their mud mixtures!

     Our cold, wet spring has put us a few weeks behind, but we finally got MOST of our daycare garden planted today and had lots of fun doing it!  We still have a few things to add over the next couple of days because I wanted to  make sure those that weren't here today can get in on this too.  Today we planted carrots, peas, green beans, corn, sunflowers, and some tomato plants.  We still hope to get in our lettuce, spinach, pumpkins, a couple more tomato plants, and some potatoes in the next couple of days.
I have had so much fun learning right along with the kids!  This will be our first year trying potatoes, so we'll see how that goes and what we learn from that! :)
I also set out a box of dirt with some of last year's leftover seeds and gardening tools for the kids to play around with and they really enjoyed that, especially after we had finished the "real" planting.
Hopefully the forecasted rain will help out our new garden and we will get some warm weather to help it grow, too.  I really love watching the kids see their seeds grow and getting to harvest their vegetables, too!
     As I played our newest photo slideshow movie yesterday for the kids, they watched with almost constant repeating commentary of, "We should do THAT again!  We should do THAT again!"  What a great gift it was for me to be reminded of how much fun they had with the activities pictured from our past year together.   Although we'll have to wait a while to recreate some of the photos (like swimming, which several of them asked if we could do today! :) ), we were able to cross one off the list today.  I filled up the spray bottles with water and liquid water color and they set to work painting the snow in the backyard!  I always know it's a winner when they add that day's activities to their list of "Thank you God for..." at our lunch time prayer as they did today.  :)
    After seeing how much fun the kids had digging their very own sandbox river this summer, I thought we might try out another kind of river.  So today we got out some heavy duty aluminum foil and stretched it out to see if we could make a river out of it.  The kids all helped to roll it out and curl up the sides so that it would hold water.

    Once we had it all ready to go, we turned on the water and added a few bottle-cap boats to float. 
We floated boats, we splashed our toes in the cool water,
...and we even jumped OVER the river! :)
    Jake made us some really fun new wooden block toys over the weekend that we added to our "loose parts" collection outside  this morning.  I am excited about adding more and more loose parts as I see the benefits they offer to the kids in the form of creativity, problem solving, and concrete experiences.  The kids got right to work building and balancing with the new blocks and they seem to be a big hit! :)

Our butterfly hatched
    I walked past our caterpillar jar early this morning and noticed that I could see the black wings and yellow spots through our chrysalis, so I knew it wouldn't be long before our butterfly made it's appearance.  I told the kids we should make sure to check on it this morning, hoping to show them what I had seen, but by the time we all got out there the butterfly had already come out!  We must have just barely missed it though, because it's wings were still all folded and wrinkled, so it was fun for the kids to be able to see that.

The kids were really excited and asked great questions, like "What will the butterflly eat?" and "When is it going to fly?"  So, we watched it pump up and stretch out its wings, and we found its "proboscis" and talked about how that rolls out to become like a straw that it drinks flower nectar through.  Once we had all had a chance to get a good look at it,
...I carefully moved the stick that the butterfly was clinging to out of the glass jar and into the mesh butterfly house.  Since I have just a small group here today, I am hoping that we can safely keep it in the mesh house until tomorrow when a few more of the kids will have a chance to see it, and then set it free.
We gathered up a few flowers and orange slices and put them in  the butterfly house, so there will be some nectar available in case our butterfly gets hungry before tomorrow.
Then, hopefully she will fly out to our garden and lay her eggs on our Angelica plants so we can find them later and witness the full life cycle!
Preschool bubbles
    Today we tried out lots of different ways to make bubbles!  We had a big bucket of bubble solution and had fun blowing bubbles until it was almost all gone!  We used the traditional bubble wands that come with bubble bottles,

...we really gave those fine-motor hand muscles a work-out by making our own bubble wands with fuzzy sticks (pipe cleaners).
We used straws and string to make giant bubbles,
...and we used cut off plastic bottles with nylon pieces rubberbanded to the end to make lots and lots of little bubbles...bubble snakes!
The kids really had fun stomping those "snakes" after they fell to the ground!
    As I think most of you have heard, our first caterpillar of the summer, "Ted" got out of our jar when we accidentally left the lid off...oops! :)  And, since we have had such a hot and dry summer, our caterpillar population has been almost wiped out.  We actually had to find a caterpillar from my in-laws' house in order to see the rest of the process!
    Well, over the weekend our second "Ted" made its chysalis so hopefully in about two weeks, we will have a beautiful Black Swallowtail butterfly to set free!