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Snow Hydrology: why and how do scientists study snow?

What is snow hydrology? Snow hydrology is the study of snow’s role in the water cycle. Snow hydrologists study snowfall, melting, and everything that happens to snow in between! Many snow hydrologists are interested in the ways snow impacts our water resources. They may use data to make predictions about the water supply. Why is […]

What is Biomimicry? Definition and examples of designs inspired by nature!

Biomimicry, also called biomimetics, is when people draw inspiration from nature to design items and solve problems. Plant, fungi, and animal species evolved features and behaviors over vast periods of time to overcome challenges they face in their habitats. Engineers may mimic these features and behaviors from nature to improve their own designs. Tree frog […]

8 tree activity ideas and forest crafts for kids!

Whether you’re studying forest ecology, plant life cycles, or just looking for a fun nature craft to do after school, you’ll love these tree activity ideas and forest crafts for kids. Try them all! Create Your Own Layers of the Forest Mini-Booklet! Draw each layer of the forest (floor, understory, canopy, and emergent layers) on […]

Disturbance and succession: examples of ecological disturbances, and the role of wildfire in ecosystems!

In this post, you’ll learn about ecological disturbance and succession, starting with definitions and examples of disturbances. We will cover the differences between primary succession vs. secondary succession, as well as the steps of the ecological succession process. Finally, you’ll read about why disturbances like wildfire can be important and natural processes in ecosystems! What […]

Symbiotic Relationships in Ecology: mutualism, parasitism, and commensalism

What is a symbiotic relationship? A symbiotic relationship is a long-term interaction between two species. Did you know lichens are two species in a symbiotic relationship? A lichen is a fungi and an algae or bacteria living together. This is just one of many examples of a symbiotic relationship! Symbiotic relationships typically benefit at least […]

What is Ecology? Learn why ecology is important + ecology activity ideas for kids

In this article, learn about ecosystems and ecology! Plus, you’ll learn the difference between biotic and abiotic. Also, read about why ecology is important and learn about what ecologists study! Click here to skip to the the list of Ecology Activity Ideas for Kids! Or, check out my food webs resources here! What is an […]

Fold a Jumping Frog: Step-by-Step Video Tutorial

In this video activity, students will learn to fold an origami jumping frog! Origami is the art of folding paper. Through origami, a simple piece of paper takes on different shapes, and can even be transformed into complex figures such as boxes, flowers, animals, and much more. In this activity, you will fold your own […]

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, […]

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 […]

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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