As I’ve mentioned before our house is nestled down in the woods. The former owners cut up logs and threw them into a huge pile which is now happily decomposing. We’ve used some of this mulch in our garden areas (well away from the house).
Here’s some of what we’ve observed from this decomposing pile!
We found lots of these large beetles in our mulch pile. My best guess is that this is a “Bess Beetle” (or Betsy Beetle) or Horned Passalus. We often see three or four huddled together when we break apart the decomposing logs. From what I’ve read these beetles are actually quite social–all life stages live together. Both sexes care for their young. They communicate by rubbing their wings on their abdomen making a squeaking noise. This is in order to communicate with other members of their colony.
I think this grub is the larvae that turns into the Bess Beetle, above.
There are lots of earthworms in the mulch pile as well. Here’s the Bess Beetle again next to it.
I don’t know what this grub is, but you can see the tunnel it has made in this log.
I read that when you find these rolly-polly bugs you’d better be on the lookout for termites.
And look at what we found when we broke open this log!! Termites!! Yikes — keep these away from our house!!
This is a five-lined skink. It’s the first lizard we’ve seen this season. LD and DD were so excited they made a “home” for it out of a big plastic bin. They eat mostly insects like grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and caterpillars. They also eat earthworms, snails, slugs and other things. We’d best let it go soon since they breed in the spring. The female lays up to a dozen eggs and she stays with them until they are hatched (in June-August).
We were very excited to see a red-headed woodpecker quite close up the other day. I wish I had taken this photo, but it’s actually from wikimedia commons. Some eastern states consider the red-headed woodpecker “threatened” but we hear it all the time pecking at trees in the woods nearby.
This is our wood pile and compost area. You can’t really tell from this photo, but we transplanted some wild rhododendrons and wild holly bushes to try to hide the compost pile from view. The kids and I placed logs around the bushes to help keep the leaves contained. Down past the wood pile, you can see the rope ladder hanging in the tree.
Funny enough, there are very few trees we can hang this from since most branches are quite high. But this location is just perfect since I so often spend time chopping up branches to add to the wood pile (and I work next to this tree).
We spent a lot of time outside this afternoon. DD was SO proud of herself. She made it up into the tree (where LD is sitting in the photo). She kept climbing up and down and was thrilled at her new-found skill. I sure remember that feeling when I was a girl! I spent a LOT of timeup at the top of the tree in our front yard. My Mom was afraid of heights and couldn’t look up at me as I was well over the height of the roof of the house. SHHHhhhhhh don’t tell MY kids that! I want them a bit closer to the ground!!
And of course we have all kinds of seedlings inside… we’re totally anticipating spring planting time!!
I meant to add that we went on a hunt for all these grubs and bugs so that LD could create a page for his plant/garden lapbook about “What’s In Our Garden.” I’ll show you that page sometime soon!
PS — This past weekend hubby and I transplanted all of the flowers that were in one of the garden beds. Then we planted 50 strawberry plants! I think they don’t produce much the first year, but sure do have my fingers crossed that we get some yummy strawberries later this summer!
Hands-On Activities, Packets, Encouragement, and More!
Hi! I’m Liesl!
Do you believe education can be exciting, inspiring, and full of joy? We do too! I love the quote by William Butler Yeats, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." It's about getting the kids involved, engaged, and fired up about learning (while juggling the rest of life too!)
A bit about me: I have my Master's from Brown University. I have more than 20 years of teaching experience. I was a high school teacher for many years both in the U.S. and internationally and also taught for the University of Maryland before leaving to homeschool my 3 wonderful kids. To read more about us CLICK HERE.
Homeschool Den Catalog
This (free) pdf has a list of many of the units we have available in science, history, math, and more!
Ultimate Hands-On Homeschool Guide
Browse through 50+ hands-on activity ideas in science, engineering, history and more!
Search Within Our Blog – Or scroll down to view the units we’ve covered!!
Please follow & like us :)
Science Units and Packets
Get our free Science Unit Checklist, plus find dozens of links to our hands-on activities, packets and more!
More than 15 pdfs & 300+ pages of games, activities and worksheets for learning the 2s through 10s!
This post has links to dozens of posts and resources both for new and veteran homeschoolers for everything from finding homeschool curriculum to general homeschool advice and encouragement.
Below is just a small sample of the packets and resources we have available on our blog.
Earth Science Packet, 150 pgs
Layers of the Earth, Tectonic Plates, Mountain Making, Earthquakes, Volcanoes and more!
Layers of the Atmosphere Packet
Human Body Systems Bundle
Civics & Government Unit
Cells Unit (100+ pages)
100+ Page Cells Packet: Organelles, Plant vs. Animal Cells, How Proteins are Made, Cells of the Body and more. My kids were ages 7, 9 and 11 when we first did this unit. Then it was updated when we did it again when they were 10, 13, 15.