Home School : Our Butterfly Unit

We finished  our caterpillar to butterfly  home school unit this week. It’s been about a month of study and I’m hoping all the kiddos enjoyed it. I sure did. I think I learn just as much as they do when preparing for the lessons. We started our first week with caterpillars. We went out to a wildlife area in hopes that we’d find some real caterpillars to explore. It took awhile but we finally found some teeny tiny oak tree caterpillars munching away on our California oaks. They were really much too tiny to bring home and try to raise, so we just looked at them there. I had a nature/art activity for set up for the kids. I displayed silhouette’s of caterpillar bodies and they had to recreate one with natural materials. (They eventually tried making butterflies too). We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar of course, as well as a neat book called Summer Birds and explored the area for caterpillars.
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The following week we talked about chrysalis’ and cocoons. We talked about the full life cycle of caterpillars and one of the girls shared a cocoon she had found in her own yard!
We made paper mache chrysalis’ and enjoyed a fun croissant chrysalis snack.

We closed out our lessons with butterflies. We spent the morning near the ocean in a special eucalyptus grove. I cut out some of my painted butterflies and hung them all over the grove. We had all sorts of painting activities like making symmetrical glue resist paintings and painting butterfly houses to put in our gardens. I read several books and we had a really fun life cycle snack. We ended the day with a little butterfly hunt. We found  paper butterflies and a few real ones too.

At home, Ellie and I have been heavy into the butterfly life cycle. We’ve found several caterpillars on our walks and hikes. We decided to take them home and try and raise them. We have a Wooly Bear caterpillar, a White-lined Sphinx caterpillar, a California Oak worm (we also found a cocoon, brought it home and it hatched into a tiny little California oak moth), we had a painted lady caterpillar that turned into a painted lady butterfly and a rather cool looking White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar. So far the Sphinx cat has gone under the dirt we provided for him and hes made a cocoon. The other two we’re still waiting on… We had the opportunity to borrow some beautiful window boxes of butterflies and moths from a neighbor. Ellie and I have been sketching some of them as well. (You can see much more on my IG @summerplayshouse ).

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An Earthy Kind of Weekend


Our Earth Day weekend was spent all over the place! We took a long walk to the farmers market downtown, and then explored the EcoFest. We had two birthday parties, one Kindermusik party with Ellie’s old music teacher. She had a blast! And the other birthday was a nature walk up in Ojai. We ended the day with cake and ice cream and happy hearts.
**(No bugs and toadlettes and froglettes were harmed and everyone was released before we went home for the day).

Portrait Project



Eloise: You learned to ride a bike a couple months ago. Four and a half and riding a big girl bike with no training wheels! (I won’t tell you how long it took me or your Auntie Hayley to learn to ride a bike). 😉
Now you are mastering riding. We’ve been taking you on longer rides, and in different areas, so you get used to all types of riding concerns. You just light up on that bike and when you are going, you are going! It’s been exciting to watch you learn so quickly!

An Earth Day Play date

I’m combining our Earth Day celebration with the day before because it was definitely an “earth day” like play date as well. Wednesday we went looking for an estuary that was supposedly near by. We found the state park closed, but managed to find part of the estuary still open on another side of the beach. We took a lovely little walk around several different pools of water, checking out grebes and wood ducks, terns diving for a meal and swallows gathering the gnats. The girls enjoyed exploring and discovered caterpillars, animal skat and bones of a pelican as well as some snake skin (or lizard skin, we weren’t sure). It was a lovely afternoon checking out a new special, local nature spot.

Then today, we met up with a whole bunch of friends for a little Earth Day play date. I had seed bomb materials for the kids to make their own seed bombs of native flower seeds and I read an Earth Day book to the kids and made them all Earth Day badges. The kids were certainly happy roaming around the bluffs and climbing trees together and whats more important than that, on Earth Day.

Portrait Project

Eloise: You have no fear when it comes to the wilderness. We’ve been out hiking and exploring so much lately and you run down the trails and climb trees, pick up bugs and wade through streams and climb rocks. Some times I worry that you don’t seem fearful at all. I worry about snakes and poison oak and of you getting hurt. But, I don’t want to squash your genuine adoration for nature. I try my best to make sure you know the risks and what to watch out for, but sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with you… giving you that space to explore but taking care to watch after you and keep you safe, as a mother does. Slow Down little one, let me catch up.

Easter Blessings

Happy Easter! I just finished reading Ellie to sleep…
It was an early morning and late night. Hoping we all sleep in tomorrow. A very excited little girl woke us up bright and early today. The Easter bunny had come. We tiptoed downstairs to see if he had hidden any eggs and sure enough, all Ellie’s wooden eggs were hidden inside the house. There was an egg hunt for good ol’ Frog and Toad as well! He left a basket of goodies for Ellie and even hid all the eggs we had dyed the night prior, outside in the yard! It was quite the exciting morning! Then all of our family came over to enjoy Tri-tip on the grill and an Easter potluck. We had a really lovely day. It ended with Ellie telling me, “You know what my high was today Mama? It was finding the dinosaur from the Easter bunny! I love him so much!” (Well, that makes the Easter Bunny smile from ear to ear after it took her two nights to hand sew the dino).

Now Jeff and I are ready to sleep (hopefully past 6 am tomorrow). 😉
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Many happy bunny dino blessings to you!

Another Wild Morning

Every Wednesday, we try to get out with our nature group and explore a new trail or outdoor space. This week we had a wonderful time in Montecito. We took a short trail up to a creek and then spent the morning exploring the butterflies, bugs and amphibians living in the cold springs. We even spotted a king snake on our way back down the trail.

Our Weekend on the Trail

This may be the most beautiful spring we’ve had here in California since I was a kid. Flowers everywhere, green (although slightly browning in certain areas already) for miles, mild temps, bugs and birds everywhere. It’s just been beautiful so far. Of course we’ve been out and about as much as we can. Jeff is off of work this month (work has been slow going lately- thus the increase in my “making and selling”). But together as a family, we’ve been enjoying the good life- out in the wild.
This past weekend, we did a little hike to a waterfall. It was glorious! How has your spring been going?


Portrait Project

Eloise: “I’m going to be an entomologist, because I love bugs.”

Eloise: We went to the zoo this week and you brought your sketchpad. Usually I have to remind you to take it out, but this day, you all of a sudden took it out on your own and started sketching the turtles. Then again, when you watched a sparrow taking a dirt bath. Of course it made your art loving mama beam, to see you drawing independently.

“The 52 project, a photo of Ellie, once a week, every week in 2017”