We decided to start our pumpkin harvest this week, but we had a problem... "How are we going to get the pumpkins way up on the top of our tunnel?" Hmmmm...not a problem for long with this group of problem solvers! :)
Now a full week into 2015, I have so enjoyed looking back on what an amazing year 2014 was! I was blessed enough to spend MANY special moments with some super special kids, and thankful that some of those moments were even preserved on camera. I have chosen my very favorite photos from the past year, and I hope you all will enjoy getting a glimpse of the joy, learning, friendships, and excitement that we have experienced together. As with all photos, what makes them great is the story behind them, so I've added descriptions to some that explain why they are my favorites. Just click the post link to see all the photos!
It was pumpkin harvest day today! We have had so much fun watching our mini pumpkin vines grow up over our wire tunnel and produce pumpkins, and we had just as much fun picking and collecting them today.
A little later than we'd hoped, and our rows may not be perfectly straight, but we got our daycare vegetable garden planted today! We had a fantastic time getting it planted and are excited to see our seeds start to grow!
This year we put it spinach, lettuce, green beans, two rows of (our favorite!) snap peas, carrots, and sunflowers. We also have mini pumpkins planted in our wire tunnel and are looking forward to having a beautiful green living tunnel to play in this summer!
I love gardening with the kids so much because it is such a fun lesson that covers so many areas of learning. Each year that they participate in the growing process, they are learning science, math concepts (counting out the seeds and rows, and spacing), health and nutrition (as we harvest what we've planted), and so much more!
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! :)
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!
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!
This morning we got to head out to our garden to gather some snap peas for our lunch today and here is what we found! A whole bowl full of peas, and our very first ripe cherry tomato! (Don't those beautiful, mangled peas just look like they were excitedly picked by little hands?!) :) And, I am very happy to report that a couple of the kids ate more of the fresh peas as we were picking than they added to the bowl!
We have been anxiously watching the tiny caterpillars in the garden get bigger and bigger! I told the kids we had to wait to catch one until they were almost big enough to make a cocoon (so we wouldn't have to try to keep giving them fresh leaves every day for weeks!). So, when they all spotted a "really big one!" on their way into the house this morning, they knew today was the day! :)
The kids have decided to name him "Ted." :) Ted is a black swallowtail caterpillar and eats plants like Dill, Queen Anne's Lace, and Angelica (which is the plant we have). Hopefully we will get to see the whole process of him turning into a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly! Since we have watched a caterpillar up close for several summers in a row now and know what is coming, we are excited to watch what happens next!
One of the kids also brought a different kind of caterpillar to show us today. It was one I was not familiar with, but I have found an excellent website for identifying caterpillar species. In case any of you ever need to identify a caterpillar for your little bug lover, here is the link: discoverlife.org. It is so fun when they understand that the caterpillars are going to turn into something else, and it is really fun to be able to show them what it will look like. I will add this link to the links on my Resources page, too so it will be easy to find when you need it. ; )
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