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Dragonfly or Damselfly?

Here’s a dragonfly we found while camping… as it was having trouble flying.  We picked it up to move it to a better area to (hopefully) recover….

It's a ...?

Finding insects or animals in nature is a great springboard for learning.  Did you know that female ‘dragonflies’ are called ‘damselflies’?  Here are a few ways they are different: Dragonflies have larger bodies than damselflies, and their hind wings are usually larger as well… although it’s a bit hard to tell in my photo.  Damselflies have all four wings about the same size and shape.  As well damselfly eyes are very far apart, while dragonflies are quite close together  (sometimes meeting on top of the head).  Can you see the eyes in the photo??  It’s a… dragonfly!

 On Etsy there are many amazing ‘dragonfly’ finds, including this  beautiful window decoration Green and Blue Dragonflies by Harvest Moon by Hand , team member.



This little nature tidbit was brought to you by Natalie of Woolhalla, who keeps busy raising three children, making crafts from natural materials and being inspired by natural beauty.  It’s a good busy.  You can also find her sometimes blogging at

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Book Review: Children of the Forest

Looking for a fabulous picture book?   Elsa Beskow (1874-1953) wrote and illustrated many children’s books originally in Swedish, and “Children of the Forest” is one our family favourites:

Children of the Forest book

The story is about a family that lives in the forest, how they work and how they play.  The children help get ready for winter, doing things like harvesting mushrooms:

Time to harvest mushrooms!

There is a lot to do, and everyone helps out… or do they?  Well, mostly!

Children helping at home

Then they are off to have some adventures,  including flying on a bat, splashing in streams, playing with fairies and being scared by an ogre!  He is quite nice, actually, no need to be worried.   The story is interesting and the pictures are lovely, so if your little one can settle in for a good story then I would recommend this one for ages 3-8.

Children at play!

There are also a few lovely items to be found in NaturalKids team members shops, you will find the links below:

Find beautiful inspired items by Art of Felting, Little Elfs Toyshop and Nushkie Design on Etsy.



 Natalie Weeks lives in B.C., where she sees more bears than pidgeons.
Raising three children, making crafts from natural materials and
being inspired by the natural beauty surrounding keeps her kinda
busy.  It’s a good busy.  You can also find her on Etsy at Woolhalla
 and sometimes blogging at

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Book Review: Snipp, Snapp, Snurr Learn to Swim

This book was first published in the USA in 1946, and earlier in Sweden. It is part of a series of books about boy triplets and their adventures. I love them all, they are fun, and all available as reasonably priced paperbacks today. Snipp, Snapp and Snurr are the names of the boys (there is a girl series too) and Maj Lindman sure knew what trouble boys could get up to!

Take, for instance the above title. It is a great summer read, especially as a ‘first reader’, and I love the antics of these boys as they have a little vacation at the cottage with Nanny. The book comes with a little disclaimer at the beginning about safety and here is why…

It is 2011 out there!! These boys go play in/on the water and can’t swim and let me tell you, there isn’t even a hint of a PFD (personal flotation device). No pool noodles. No inflatable dolphins. I know!!! There is a boat, a tub, a sailboat and some good ole fashioned fun with a rescue and all… and then there are swimming lessons. Whew! You won’t learn to swim with this book, but you will take a pleasant little trip back to when things were just a little simpler~ maybe not safer though!!

Hope you have fun at the beach and play safe (ie: sunscreen & pfd’s!).
Natalie of Woolhalla
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Road Trips Sounds: These are a few of my favourite things…

Summer often = Road Trips for many families. There are many games you can play like I-spy or counting telephone poles or license plate spotting for hours on end. There are great songs to sing like numbers from The Sound of Music and albums by Raffi. And then sometimes you’d just like someone else entertaining your little ones so you can enjoy the scenery for a bit. Here are some tried and true favourites for your CD player or device (for downloaded material):

1. “Come Follow Me” by Lorraine Nelson Wolf. Simple and sweet and you’ll be singing along before you know it. Most of the 25 songs are oriented toward nature and the changing seasons. Even the very under 3’s love this one. Find the website for the Come Follow Me CD’s here:

2. “The Evergreens” by Odds Bodkin. Musical stories by a wonderful storyteller. This one is an all-time fave here with its title story. It’s geared for the 3 and up age, but older children like it too. You can even do digital downloads from the Odds Bodkin website… in case you’re leaving, like, now! Find lots more at

3. “Mandy and the Magic Butterfly” by Ann Rachlin. Join Mandy on her musical adventure! This one is maybe more age 4 or 5 and up. I love all of Ann Rachlin’s stories, and she has quite a selection on her website for all ages, including download info on her website:

Hope you enjoy the selections! Safe travels this summer!

Natalie of Woolhalla
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Fairy Gardens

Talk about small-scale gardening! Making a fairy garden together with your child(ren) can be a lot of fun. It can happen in a small space, including inside in a planter, so you can make one anywhere really.

Below are some photos from The Magic Onions blog, from team member Donni at Fairyfolk.

A little moment of tranquility…

Here is an outside planter box/barrel of strawberries.
Mmm… I think fairies like strawberries a lot!!
Find a little spot to create your fairy garden.

Collect some supplies. You can buy cute little things to put in it or make them. Built with popsicle sticks and glue, wool scraps, marbles, moss, whatever you have on hand.

And start building!

Rocks and a bowl can be turned into a cute little fairy scene.

When you’re done, you can make a sign. Then sit back and wait to see if you might catch a glimpse of a fairy in your new little garden!

Photos by Donni at The Magic Onions.
Text by Natalie of Woolhalla.
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Bug Love: Name these Bugs/Insects!

Kids love bugs and insects… well most of them anyways! Summertime is ‘bug season’ in many places and Natural Kids team members have some photos to share… Do you know what they all are? Put your answers in the comments!!

Photo 1: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 2: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 3: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 4: By Donni at Fairyfolk

Photo 5: By Michelle at Babus Toys

Photo 6: By Ann at Harvest Moon by Hand
So what do you think? Do you know what they all are, do your kids know what they are??
Let’s hope I have it right… we’ll see! Post your answers in the comments!!

Thank you team members for sharing your photos!!
Natalie of Woolhalla
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More on Community Gardening…

A few days ago Ulla from GermanDolls posted about community gardening for fun and food~ and I thought I would follow-up with a sharing of the community gardenin my town in B.C.

Here we are at one of two 4-way stops looking at the community garden. We don’t even have traffic lights the town is so small, but we have a really great little community garden! It is located on village property and run by volunteers. Though the village is small and most people have their own garden, this community garden is for anyone who wants extra (or some) gardening land (and others, more below).

The hearts on the deer fencing were to decorate the fencing (no, not as art for the deer!) and were done by a variety of community members.
Here is a fairly traditional looking garden plot. Our local school maintains sections of the garden with their classes, so students can learn to start seeds, transplant, weed & water, and harvest in the autumn.

There’s not many flowers just yet as we’ve had a very rainy spring… but they are on the way. Every year an elder in our community grows a variety of flowers and then cuts them to bring them to our long-term care facility just down the road. Talk about giving to your community!
Here is a ‘classic’… salad with flowers. It’s just not a proper potluck around here if someone doesn’t put edible flowers in their salad! It sure looks beautiful side by side, and there’s a whole patch of these right now.
Our community garden was once just a corner lot, vacant, owned by the village. As it is one of the first things people see when they drive into town it seemed like the perfect location for a makeover. It is located close to the hospital (mostly long-term care) and school, so it is often visited. Some people grow food, some flowers and some years it is a boom and some years a little more weedy… but it belongs to the people who live here.
If you live in an apartment or other area and are interested in community gardening check with your local authorities, like village or city council or a search online. It’s a great way to involve your children and yourself within the community.
This post is brought to you by Natalie of Woolhalla.
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Hooded Towel Poncho

IT’s SUMMER!! This Hooded Towel Poncho is from a recent tutorial on the blog of NaturalKids Team member Lori from Beneath the Rowan Tree. As soon as I saw it I wanted to share it here!! The original post has great detailed tutorial instructions to make your own (see link below). Here are some photos of the project to get you inspired to make them for your children & friends:

Towel ponchos are so simple and so handy at the beach~ and look how much FUN it is.
For the size 4/5 toddler & up all you need is:

  • a 30 x 60 (approx.) beach towel
  • a second matching beach towel or a hand or bath towel
  • scissors, thread, ruler

To get the detailed instructions to make this poncho here is the blog link:
I hope you are inspired to go make a towel poncho for your beach/outdoor excursions 😮
Here is the link to Lori’s Etsy shop: Beneath the Rowan Tree
This post is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla.
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Caterpillar Craft Tutorial

After I saw the photos (above & below) from Natural Kids Team member Kelly on her blog Muddy Feet, I have been wanting to make a post on caterpillarsas part of the theme I have been posting on the last few weeks.

When I was growing up my friends and I used to spend oodles of time sitting in a willow tree that had hundreds of caterpillars each year. We usually didn’t get to see the butterflies that emerged, but caterpillars are fun just on their own~ and most kids find them fascinating.
Now that you can order caterpillars and build a spot to keep them until the butterflies emerge many families are doing this (some school classrooms too). How fun is that? Lots of fun!
It is also fun to make caterpillars out of various craft items… a little caterpillar tutorial is below~ easy enough for any child who can handle a needle and thread.
How to make a caterpillar out of felt balls: You will need 5-7 felt balls (whatever size you like), thread (including black), needle and scissors.
This is SO easy! If you don’t have pre-made felt balls on-hand you can either needlefelt them or use pom-poms.
1. Begin by threading a strong thread through the felt balls until all the balls are on the thread.
2. Then when you reach the last ball, start rethreading them all back to the beginning).
3. Knot the thread off, now all your felt balls are connected.
4. Then make a couple of eyes with black thread. You can make little antennas too, by threading the black thread through the head, making a knot and cutting off just above the knot.
Cute little felt ball caterpillar is done and ready for play or decoration! Please remember that small parts can be dangerous for young children.
This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie of Woolhalla.
The photos of live caterpillars are by Kelly of Muddyfeet, thank you for sharing Kelly!
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Bees in the Yard

BEES! They hum from flower to flower once spring arrives… and honeybees also make the honey we eat. There is a resurgence in beekeeping and many families are now keeping bees again, or thinking about it. Here is a little overview with photos by Ulla of German Dolls (except the pic above by me):

One look at honeycomb and the desire to start beekeeping goes up exponentially!Honey, honeycomb, wax, and propolis are the wonderful benefits of keeping honeybees. There are other ways to tend bees, but I will just stick to the classic honeybee for now.

To keep honeybees shortlist: 1. A place to keep bees, like your yard (unless someone close by has an allergy to bee stings!). 2. A hive and frames. 3. Safety equipment (gloves & mask good idea, especially for beginners). 4. Bees (you can order in the mail, find online) 5. Other equipment for checking bees (smoker), cleaning frames, maintenance; like removing honey! 6. Time; you will need to have time to learn about your bees as well as spending 1-on-1 with them.
This is just a shortlist!

After learning about bees and if they are a good fit for you, you will need to have a hive clean and ready for your bees arrival. Above is a homemade hive; you can make or buy hives in shapes and sizes. The most common is a box frame with frames that can be easily removed on the inside, as they can also be stacked like you often see if farmer’s fields. Beekeeping season is essentially spring to autumn.

The worker bees fly off from the platform to go find nectar. They return and show other bees where to find it.

The bees are moving into their new home. The box you see in the picture, is the cage that the bee folk arrive in. You simply pour the bees into the hive. The queen comes in a separate little cage.

The queen and her workers will spend a few days chewing through a piece of marshmallow trying to unite! The presence of the queen will make the new bee hive stick around and start building.The queen is usually marked with a dot so you know if she is still around. Get to know your bees, especially the Queen. Hives need a Queen to survive.

And, check them again… but not too often, they don’t like being disturbed constantly.

The fruits of keeping honeybees!
FAQ: Is it safe to keep bees around kids, like in your back yard? Absolutely! If someone has an allergy in your family or in the neighbourhood then possibly not (do check in with the neighbours!). When I learned beekeeping living in Holland my mentor had a teensy backyard with a bunch of hives, and 6 kids running around, and felt totally safe with that.
Speaking of running around… if you’re worried about being stung then MOVE SLOW! Bees are are agitated by fast, flapping arms, and the like.
Thank you Ulla for sharing your photos!!
This article was brought to you by Natalie of Woolhalla

Find “BEE” treasures on Etsy from the NaturalKids Team (top left to bottom right): Boston Beanies, Driaa, Fairyfolk, GermanDolls, Harvest Moon By Hand, Prettydreamer, The Enchanted Cupboard.