Become a Naturalist

Ah Spring! There is so much about this time of year that brings out poetry, curiosity and a sense that anything is possible. When the kids get restless and itchy, take a break from video games and household routines and explore the natural world. To make it a more interesting adventure, become Naturalists and record the days observations and sightings. All you need is the following, all of which will fit in a backpack:

1. A pair of binoculars for zooming in on birds or other elusive wildlife. A magnifying glass for closeups of insects and plant life.

2. A Field Guide of insects and birds of North America.  There are many excellent ones you can borrow from a local library or download onto your Kindle or iphone.

3. A journal or notebook will help you record sights, sounds, names of animals and plants you discover, and details to use in writing a story or drawing a picture when you get back home.

4. A camera.

5. Comfortable shoes, water, snacks.

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Try an outing at different times of day. What is awake in the early morning hours may be totally different from what is active mid day or at sunset. If you’re having difficulty finding “critters”, be still and listen to the sounds of nature. This stillness often leads to amazing discoveries. It will definitely bring you peace and calm your stress. If you’re near water, turn over some rocks at the water’s edge. There are many hatching insects under them to marvel at.

And, like every good naturalist, remember to leave only footprints, and take only pictures and memories, and bring back any trash left behind by the human animal, so we can enjoy the natural world for years to come.

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Shiela Fuller:Celebrating America’s National Bird, The Bald Eagle.

This wonderful post is brought to you by my friend, naturalist, wildlife photographer, and soon-to-be children’s book author SHIELA FULLER.

Since Roman times, the bald eagle has been a “symbol of governmental power”. In 1872 the government of the United States chose the bald eagle as the national symbol for the country, signifying freedom and patriotism.  img_4165 (2)

A figure of a bald eagle can be found on U.S. coins, paper bills, stamps, flags, official government documents and passports, and other items illustrating its importance to our country’s history.  Even with the notable attention given to the bald eagle, it wasn’t that long ago that it was near extinction.  Sport hunting and pesticide use were contributing factors to the decrease in numbers of these majestic birds.  The Bald Eagle Protection Act (1940) is a Federal statute that gave legal protection to the bald eagle. In 1972, regulations curtailing pesticides that were found to be a detriment to the eagle’s future (and ours, too) were enacted.  Since that time, the eagle population has grown.  In 1995, the eagle was declared not endangered but a threatened species and in 2007, the bird was removed from the threatened list, as well.

The bald eagle is not bald but has a feathered white head and tail feathers that are not obvious until after the eagle’s fifth year of life. The bald eagle’s legs are featherless. Bald eagles are found all across North America. They have an incredible wingspan of up to eight feet and can fly 45 miles per hour. front yard dec 2017

A female bald eagle with an immature one missing the signature white head feathers.

Eagles eat mammals like raccoons and squirrels, reptiles like snakes and turtles, and water birds. They will scavenge carcasses and even steal prey from other predators.

If you would like to learn more about our national bird and perhaps see an eagle in the wild, attend the annual Eagle Fest on February 2, 2019.   Located in Mauricetown, NJ the festival is a family fun event featuring vendors, live exhibits, and speakers. After you’ve taken that all in, venture in your car for a short ride to selected eagle nesting areas where volunteers with bird scopes are waiting to show you what you came to see.

2019 Cumberland County Winter Eagle Festival
Saturday, February 2, 2019
8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Mauricetown Firehall
9544 Noble Street, Mauricetown, NJ
$10.00 Adults
$5.00 Children (12 and under)
At the Firehall:
Speakers and presentations
Non-profit and commercial exhibitors
Local fare refreshments & lunch available
Live raptors exhibited by
Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
Hands-on art activities by
Clay College
Along the Delaware Bay:
Five staffed viewing sites
with scopes & birdwatching experts
Bayshore Center at Bivalve walks,
food & activities
Morning & evening owl watches
Guided trail walks
East Point Lighthouse
Leechester Hall

If you’d like to view a live nesting site online visit the Duke Farms Eagle Cam: http://www.dukefarms.org/making-an-impact/eagle-cam

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bald_and_Golden_Eagle_Protection_Act

http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle9.html

https://www.history.com/news/how-did-the-bald-eagle-become-americas-national-bird

https://www.livescience.com/32811-why-is-the-bald-eagle-americas-national-bird-.html

https://www.thoughtco.com/bald-eagle-profile-and-trivia-1140687

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/b/bald-eagle/

shiela and jonas little fig

Shiela Fuller is the author of All Night Singing (Schoolwide 2015) and Cliff Climbers, to be published in 2019 (The Little Fig).
She adores Pembroke Welsh corgis and has a new pup, Jefferson Jonas.
She is a frequent bird watcher and legacy keeper for her family.

 

 

Shiela and Jonas.

 

Halloween Fun and Games.

I came across a great site with lots of kid-friendly fun and games for Halloween and beyond.    http://www.holidayinsights.com/halloween/index.htm

To keep the kids busy before or after trick-or-treating, or if you’re planning a party, why not try some PUMPKIN BOWLING?

Every kid loves to knock things over. That makes Pumpkin Bowling really popular.

Age Group: Kids up to pre-teens

Object of Game: Knock over the bowling pins. Make a strike or a spare.

Preparation:

  1. Select several small pumpkins about four to six inches in diameter. You need extras in case a few split or break.

  2. Remove the stem.

  3. Place plastic (children’s set) of bowling pins several feet away on the lawn or floor of the room. 

  4. A great alternative to bowling pins are plastic liter bottles. Let the kids decorate them with Halloween objects before the game.

Playing the Game:                                                                

  1. Measure off several feet.

  2. Give each child two tries to knock down the pins.

  3. A strike is worth two pieces of candy.

  4. A spare is worth one piece of candy.

Visit the site for other fun and games such as: Penny Pitch or Pumpkin Ring Toss.

For Halloween Party treat ideas visit:  The site has everything from Bat’s Eyes to Wormy Fruit Salad.

http://www.pumpkinnook.com/halloweenrecipes/index.htm

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!                         

 

Five Book Fairs in Collingswood and Counting!

This past Saturday I attended my fifth Collingswood Book Fair as an author.

1                  Another opportunity to share my book with old and young alike, to meet young people and their parents, teachers, and friendly people who are out to celebrate their love of books. It was also another opportunity to reconnect with  fellow authors in the kid lit community.

Here are the highlights in photos.

3Speaking on a YA Panel about Challenges and Changes in Children’s Literature.

 

2

Picture book authors Patricia Lugo, Ryan Sias, Betsy Devaney

4YA authors Maria Andreau and Yvonne Ventresca

5

With fellow MG author and KidLIt Club Member Charlotte Bennardo.

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YA and KidLit Club Authors Jeffry Johnston and Dianne Salerni.

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PB Author/illustrator and fellow KidLIt Club member Timothy Young.

Going Green? Ten Easy Ways to Make a Difference.

With the recent news about efforts to haul away the mammoth pile of floating garbage in the Pacific Ocean, some of us may wonder how we can possibly make a difference and help keep our earth and environment healthy. So many things we might do seem feeble and often futile.

I’m here to say that EVERYONE can do something – no matter how small – to reduce the impact we have on planet earth. Today I begin a series of SIMPLE STEPS you can incorporate into your life to help keep our earth home healthy.

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store and reduce use of disposable plastic bags.
  • Buy local to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and take shorter showers.
  •  Use a water filter pitcher or install one on your sink to refill water bottles.
  • Instead of driving, ride a bike for short distances. or take a train or bus to work.
  • Don’t let the sink faucet run when you wash dishes or brush your teeth.
  • Unplug electronics when you’re not using them.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Today’s detergents clean just as well in cold water.
  • Line dry clothes if and when possible.

There are MANY more ways to go green.  I’ll share them in coming weeks. Got any favorite earth-friendly tips of your own you’d like to share?

 

Fit Kids=Smart Kids.

A recent study of 70 kids aged 9-11, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that strong muscles in children correlates to better memory.  Other studies found that aerobically fit children have better thinking ability, attention, memory, and academic performance.

Bottom line: Getting kids moving with strength-building and aerobic activities during their school years will lead to an overall better school experience. Kids don’t have to join a gym.  Just make sure your child’s school has a playground with lots of equipment and that recess and gym classes are a regular part of the schedule.  Set an example by doing active things together as a family.  Taking after dinner walks, dancing to favorite songs, jumping rope, using a hula hoop, skipping and swimming.  Try crab walks, wheelbarrow races, pillow case races, and soup can arm curls to build muscles.

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Activity can be fun when parents set the tone and participate as well.  The rewards are better health and a smarter brain!

Host a Movie Night…Outdoors!

Even though summer is fading fast and kids are going back to school, there are still a lot of great evenings with pleasant weather for hosting an outdoor MOVIE NIGHT.  And you don’t have to make yourself crazy organizing one.  Here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind.

  • Be sure to select a good movie that appeals to everyone and doesn’t have a lot of quiet dialogue or dark scenes.  There are plenty of “family” films that appeal to kids of all ages as well as adults.  You might want to buy a few glow necklaces for the little ones – to keep track of them in the dark.
  • Have a test run of the equipment BEFORE the event to make sure it all runs smoothly.  This goes for sound as well as video.  Loud enough for guests to enjoy without disrupting the neighborhood.
  • Secure and cover any cords so folks don’t trip over them in the dark.
  • Have bug spray to ward off unwelcome guests.
  • Set up a table of drinks and snacks with a light on it so everyone can help themselves to treats during the show.
  • Have guests bring blankets.  As fall approaches, evenings can get cool. So much fun to snuggle under a blanket while watching the movie.

How simple is that?  Movie night doesn’t have to be complicated. And, as dusk arrives earlier in the fall, you can even enjoy a light supper of hotdogs or burgers while watching the latest blockbuster.  Happy Movie Watching!