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Botany Fruit Types: how scientists classify fruits + examples and a class activity!

Is a pumpkin a fruit? Is a tomato a berry? If you’re confused about what a fruit actually is and what the different types of fruit are, you’re not alone! Fruit types classification schemes differ depending on if you’re eating and cooking, or if you’re categorizing fruits from a biological perspective! In this post, we’ll […]

Flower Anatomy: the four whorls of flowers and their functions, plus diagram and activity!

Flower anatomy is an important concept in botany! Whether you and your students are studying fruits, pollination, or plant genetics, understanding the basics of flower anatomy is important background knowledge. This post covers the basic parts of flower anatomy: the 4 “whorls” of complete flowers (sepals, petals, carpel, and stamen) as well as other basic […]

Bird of Prey Activities: 7 raptor projects for kids to try in your classroom!

Birds of prey, or raptors, are top predators that can be found in almost any type of habitat, from coastal areas to mountains, wetlands to deserts, grasslands to forests. Some of these incredible birds can even adapt to live alongside humans in urban areas! Because they are so widespread, chances are your students have spotted […]

What makes a bird a raptor? Five characteristics of birds of prey

What is a raptor? A raptor is a predatory bird, with sharp talons, a hooked beak, and keen eyesight. Raptors are also sometimes called birds of prey. There are many different types of birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, ospreys, and kites. Birds of prey come in many different sizes: from the […]

Common Landforms: how they form, definitions, and examples

Many forces work together to shape the landscape. Plate tectonics, Vocanic activity, erosion, and deposition work slowly over time to form and change our earth’s surface. All these forces working together create some pretty unique and cool landforms! In this post, we’ll take a closer look at 12 common landforms – what they look like, […]

How to Measure Tree Height: a real-world application of trigonometry and step-by-step guide to make your own inclinometer!

I don’t know about you, but I think math is a lot more interesting when we can apply it to real-world situations! If you’re studying trigonometry, right triangles, or angles, tree height measurements are the perfect applied math activity! In this simple activity you can create your own inclinometer – a device for measuring angle […]

Alphabet of North American Animals

For a recent project, I illustrated North American Animals from A to Z (you can find those illustrations here)! During this project, I reviewed many incredible critters that I studied while earning my degree in Wildlife Biology! I wanted to share more about these cool creatures with you! You may already know and love some […]

Food Chains vs Food Webs: definitions, differences explained, and examples

In a rush? Click here to skip to printing the free educational Poster! Maybe you’ve studied a little ecology and come across the terms “food chain” and “food web.” Both help ecologists explain the ways that energy from food travels through an ecosystem. In this post, we will dive into the differences between food chains […]

Aquatic Insects: identification, examples, and use as bioindicators

If you flip over a few rocks in the shallow water at any healthy pond or stream, you’re sure to see a few aquatic insects! Many aquatic insects are the larvae or nymphs of well-known flying insects, like dragonflies and mayflies! They begin their lives in the water, then emerge from the surface of the […]

Tree Rings: why they form and what scientists can learn from them

In a rush? Click here to skip to printing the free learning activity! You may have noticed the unique rings that appear on tree stumps – and you might even know that you can figure out a tree’s age by counting the rings! But did you know that scientists can use tree growth rings to […]

Mountains and the Water Cycle: the rain shadow effect explained

A short bonus post here! After writing two posts about the water cycle (how it works and how humans effect it), I still felt like there was more to write. I owed it to the wonderful mountains where I live, to touch on the important role of mountains in the water cycle. In this mini […]

How Humans Affect the Water Cycle, a Complete Guide

In a rush? Skip directly to download the learning activity for this post! In part one of this two-part post on the water cycle, we learned how the water cycle makes life possible for land-dwelling plants and animals, including humans. The water cycle provides the constant source of freshwater that we need to survive. The […]

Aquatic Ecosystems: How to tell if a pond, stream, or wetland is healthy

This is part 2 of a two-part post on aquatic ecosystems. If you haven’t already, check out part 1! In a rush? Click here to go straight to the printable scavenger hunt! In my last post, I shared my experience working as a science technician studying aquatic ecosystems like streams, ponds, and wetlands. These water […]

The Heart of an Ecosystem: Healthy ponds, streams, and wetlands

In a rush? Click here to go straight to the printable journaling page for kids! This week, my students and I took a field trip to a local creek. Getting outside to make observations in nature is one of my favorite hands-on ways to learn about science and the natural world! Ponds, creeks, and wetlands […]

The Water Cycle: How it works, a simple and detailed explanation with definitions, diagrams, and a visualization activity!

Author’s note: As a master’s student who works with water, this one is an exciting topic for me to write about! Water is a vital resource that needs careful management in the Mountain West region of the United States. Mountain region watersheds are expected to face climate change-related challenges due to decreasing winter snowpack, changing […]

My Wonderful, Wild Backyard and Ways to Improve Your Yard’s Wildlife Habitat

In a rush? Click here to skip straight to the backyard wildlife bingo download! With the first signs of spring appearing, many of us are looking forward to spending more time enjoying our outdoor living spaces. Spring also means the beginning of yardwork season and time to start new projects in the yard or garden. […]

Five Amazing Alpine Animals to Spot Above Tree Line

In the Rocky Mountains, tree line is around 11,000 to 12,000 feet (3,350 to 3,650 meters) above sea level! Tree line means the elevation where conditions are too harsh for trees to grow, due to low temperatures, high winds, or other environmental factors. For humans, traveling above tree line while hiking, skiing, or mountaineering is […]

An Invitation

Welcome fellow nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Welcome backyard naturalists, kitchen table scientists, life-long learners. Welcome fellow wonderers and wanderers. I’m glad to see you here. My name is Valerie and I’m a scientist, artist, and avid outdoors woman currently in Colorado, USA. My curiosity about the natural world started at a young age, exploring […]

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Stay in the loop about new units and curricula, free learning resources, activity ideas, and more!