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8 Common Backyard Weeds with Nutritional and Medicinal Value

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." I love this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. Many of the plants that are considered common backyard weeds actually have wonderful nutritional and medicinal benefits. In this post I share 8 of my favorite backyard "weeds" and how I use them. 

Foraging Basics Before I get any further I want to mention a couple of safety tips:
Only pick wild herbs from places you know haven't been treated with toxic pesticides.
Always rinse your herbs before consuming them or using them in any product you plan to use on your body.
Do not consume or use any wild growing plant unless you are certain of what it is and that it is safe. 
Nothing in this post is meant to be taken as medical advice. Always be sure to do your own thorough research before using any remedy.
Plantain- One of my very favorite backyard herbs, that is often called a weed, is plantain. There are several different varieties, and they grow just about everywh…
Recent posts

Make a Phenology Wheel- A Fun Way to Study Seasonal Change

I am always looking for new ways to incorporate nature and art into our days. Sometime last year I stumbled upon phenology wheels on Instagram and immediately fell in love with the idea.

What is a Phenology Wheel and Why Make One? A phenology wheel is an artistic way to record nature observations and observations of seasonal and cyclical change. The basic idea is to record nature observations like weather, wildlife, and moon phase on a wheel shaped chart. It can be a great way for you and your children to connect with nature and learn about the seasons. Recording our nature observations can help us slow down and notice things we may not otherwise, like changes in plants and trees, changes in the season, how the moon moves through it's phases, and what kinds of wildlife are present in your area. It's also a fantastic way to add a little art to your homeschool day.
Getting Started First choose whether you want to record your observations daily or monthly. You can make a wheel split …

How a Caterpillar Becomes a Butterfly

Our Adventure Raising Caterpillars My girls and I spent an afternoon exploring the trails that run along one of our local creeks a couple weeks ago. We saw all sorts of wildlife that day including several pairs of mallard ducks, a crayfish, and loads of pipevine swallowtail caterpillars. After spending the majority of our afternoon  completely enthralled watching the caterpillars devouring leaves, we decided to bring one home to continue observing. 

Normally I don't allow my kids to keep live insects for more than a few hours to observe because they belong in the wild and typically don't last long in captivity, but a friend of mine had success recently raising this exact species from eggs she ordered online, so I figured we could pull it off.
We ended up choosing two, one that was older and looked close to adulthood, and a smaller younger looking one. Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars eat pipevine leaves so we collected a large ziploc bag full of fresh young pipevine leaves to br…

Learning About Owls

Owls, in my opinion are one of the coolest groups of birds out there. Their unique appearance and their amazing hunting capabilities make them an especially interesting group of birds. Out of all the types of birds we studied this year, owls were my daughter's favorite.

All About Owls:
There are over 200 species of owls and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. They live in a wide variety of habitats including deserts, prairies, forests, and even the arctic tundra.

Owls are one of only a few types of birds that are nocturnal, meaning they are primarily active at night. They have several adaptations that make them especially stealthy night hunters. Owls have large eyes and an excellent sense of hearing for honing in on prey. They also have long wings with soft fringed feathers called flutes. Flutes reduce the sound of the air flowing over the owls wings, allowing them to fly almost silently. Owls eat insects and other invertebrates, amphibians, fish, and small mammals.

Nature Print Salt Dough Ornaments

We had a 25 pound bag of flour rip open and spill all over our pantry earlier this week. Luckily the majority of it stayed inside the bag and I was able to repackage it. Instead of wasting the several cups that did spill out, we decided to attempt making some salt dough ornaments, and I just love how they turned out!

Salt Dough Recipe:
Salt dough is simple to make and only requires a couple ingredients. You will need:
-2 cups of flour
-1 cup of salt
-1 cup of water

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Then slowly add the water and stir until a soft dough forms. You can add a little more flower if it's too sticky. It should feel similar to playdough.

Nature Print Ornaments: 
Grab a cutting board, a rolling pin, and a little extra flour and roll out your dough just like you would cookie dough. You want your dough to be about a 1/4 inch thick. 

Cut out round ornaments using a cookie cutter or a plastic cup.

Now it's time to decorate! We used various nature items my kids collected aro…

Learning About Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are one of my favorite types of birds. I love watching them hover over the feeder on our porch. They are fascinating little creatures, so of course we had to include them in our bird study!

Information About Hummingbirds

There are over 300 species of hummingbirds and they are only found in the Americas. The world's smallest bird species is the bee hummingbird, measuring in at just 2 inches tall. Hummingbirds are the only birds that can hover and fly backwards, some can even fly upside down! A hummingbird flaps it's wings around 80 times per second. That is crazy fast!
In order for hummingbirds to fuel their incredibly fast metabolisms, they need to take in a lot of high energy foods, like flower nectar and small insects and spiders. A hummingbird typically eats nearly half it's weight in a day, and may stop to eat as often as every 10 minutes.
Hummingbirds build tiny elastic nests mainly from twigs, grasses, and spider silk. Female hummingbirds typically lay 1-3 n…

6 Eggless Easter Egg Crafts for Kids

Since there is a shortage on eggs many places right now, including here, I set out to find a few alternative Easter egg activity ideas, incase I can't get my hands on any real eggs this week. Here are a few of my favorite ideas that I came across:

Easter Egg Rocks
Collect some oval egg shaped rocks from your yard or neighborhood. Clean them up and let them dry. Then paint them like fancy easter eggs with acrylic paints. These could be used as an alternative for real eggs in an egg hunt.

Decorate Easter Egg Sugar Cookies
Make a batch of roll out cookie dough and cut out oval shaped cookies to bake. After they're cool, decorate them with icing and sprinkles. (Click the link for a good recipe and decorating tips)

Painting Plastic Eggs
If you can't find real eggs, grab a pack of plastic Easter eggs, and paint them with acrylic paints or decorate them with colored permanent markers. Then you can stuff them with goodies and hide them for an egg hunt.

Yarn Eggs
Yarn eggs are a fun projec…