I love the outdoors. Now that Spring is finally here...and with beautiful weather...we've been outdoors a lot. A lot a lot. Salamanders, pill bugs (aka Rollie pollies - not sure if I spelled that correctly; feel free to advise), worms, ants, spiders, grubs (ouch, they bite!) and frogs. The boys are catching everything they see. It's a great lesson in nature, but also empathy and compassion. How would you feel if you were captured and not allowed to go home? What if you liked the dark and someone pulled you out of bed and threw you in the desert? What if someone came and pulled off your legs? I have tried to teach my kids the safe way to overturn rocks...grab the end of the rock furthest away from you and pull the rock towards you, being careful not to turn it onto your toes. That way, if any crazy creature tries to jump out, it won't be onto you. We have a variety of bug books. DK Smithsonian's Bug Hunter is a great resource. For spiders, and other creepy crawlies, we like Eyes on Nature Creepy Creatures. We also have the National Audubon's Field Guide to New England. This has proven to be a very valuable resource. There is one for every region of the United States, as well as more individualized ones for wildflowers, birds, etc. The Bug Hunter and the Field Guide can be thrown in a backpack along with a magnifying glass and some tweezers - to pick up extra creepy crawlies.
Today, while my oldest son was in his nature class, the other two and I flipped over rocks and hung on the edge of a man made pond. We found dragonfly larvae, tadpoles, frogs, toads, water spiders, inchworms, slugs, snails and scat. My kids were soaked from the waist down. The littlest, from lying down along the edge... the middle, from jumping in trying to catch the frogs. He didn't catch one although he tried very hard.