Our Favorite Books-Ponds

Here’s the next installment of my favorite books posts. These are books I will often bring out on pond day:

https://i1.wp.com/cdnll.reallygoodstuff.com/images/xl/161300.jpgSong of the Water Boatman is one of my favorite books. The art is beautiful, and the poems are both creative and full of ecological information. I learned something new from this book. On each page, there is more scientific information about the topic of each poem.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51urb1dxLAL.jpgThis fun book is familiar to children because it uses the famous “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” lyrics, and adapts it to the ecology of a pond. Jo MacDonald also nature journals what she finds, so it introduces nature journaling as an activity.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61LPxJTUMTL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Fish Had a Wish uses lovely woodblock artwork, and simple language to explore the creatures of the pond, as fish is wishing about all the other animals s/he could be. I like that, ultimately, fish decides that s/he likes being a fish. I also like that fish is completely non-gendered, and that pronouns are not used in this book.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51qj0ZdEIuL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Denise Fleming’s simple rhymes and vivid art are great for little kids, and her books are based on different habitats. In the Small, Small Pond, she explores the pond habitat, and introduces pond creatures to little ones.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5174Qk9PmXL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Anna’s pretty lucky to have this pond in her backyard! This book uses a familiar refrain (This is the skunk that caught the snake, that ate the frog…) to explain pond ecology, and introduce the predator/prey relationship to children. And the artwork is stunning!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51XqfmkM38L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Over and Under the Pond explores and observes what is happening outside the pond and in the water on each page. Love this book!


Our Favorite Books-Meadows

Over the years I’ve amassed a collection of lovely picture books that introduce nature and ecology to children, and in some cases deepen the knowledge they already have. Here are some of my favorites for meadow day:


Such a Little Mouse follows the life of a mouse in the meadow as it experiences each season. Topics: seasons, meadows, mice, foraging

A clever inchworm measures birds to save itself from being dinner. Topics: meadows, predator/prey relationships

A lyrical counting book about animals that live in the meadow. Topics: meadows, animals, mamas and babies, counting

One of my favorite books! The author lives in the Pacific Northwest, and those of us familiar with NW ecology will find the plants very familiar. Discusses all the ways seeds are spread in nature. Topics: meadows, seeds, animals, ecology, vectors

  A book full of different kinds of bird, and the sounds they make. Topics: bird species, bird calls, nesting

Another favorite! Butterfly Eyes introduces and deepens children’s knowledge of meadow ecology through poetry, and the art is just beautiful. Topics: meadow ecology, predator/prey relationships, insects and animals of the meadow, literature

A simple book about what you might see in the tall grass, with striking artwork. Topics: meadows

A lovely book about a mouse family living in a rock wall through the seasons. Topics: meadows, seasons, food supply

A wordless book about a little girl and her experience with a butterfly. Topics: butterflies, empathy


Spring Camps 2017 (and plenty of space in Spring Into Summer)

Spring Saturdays Session starts in just 2 weeks, and is the perfect thing for working families!

Spring Into Summer Session had an error on the website, and it is NOT waitlist only. There are plenty of spaces available, so if that looks like the perfect session for you (and it’s a pretty great one!), sign on up.

Summer camps are also posted on the website. There are a lot of options to choose from, and I hope to see you this spring and summer.

2017 Spring Sessions

After a cold couple weeks, I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures. Spring green, running water (although the frozen water has been pretty cool!), skunk cabbage, tree frogs. These are the things I appreciate most about spring in Discovery Park.

Skunk Cabbage Session:

March 10-April 28, 10-11:30am, Fridays

Spring Saturdays:

March 25-May 13, 10-11:30am, Saturdays

Sign up before January 15 for an early bird discount! $200 for 1 child, $220 for 2 siblings.

Regular price for both sessions is $240 for 1 child, $270 for 2 sibling children.

Register here




Dressing Kids for Winter Play

When taking my children (ages 5 and 7) into nature, I make sure they have the appropriate clothing, which is to say I dress them the way I would dress myself, only in miniature. They have their own long underwear, both wool and synthetic; they have warm, waterproof boots, and rain gear (pants and jacket).

For cold, wet or snow play, it’s really important to put your kids in synthetic or wool. Cotton wicks heat away from the body when wet, and takes a long time to dry. Synthetic and wool clothing will keep your kids relatively warm while they are wet. When we are going out to play in the rain, or dry but with puddles, I don’t bother with jeans, leggings or t-shirts. My kids know (from making this a rule and a habit) that when we’re going to get wet, they just wear thermals, boots and raingear. When we go to the snow, they wear thermals and snowgear. Know that even when you dress your kids like this, they still get wet. They will always get wet!

I can hear it now: “Whoa, lady, that’s some expensive stuff for a 2 year old!” True, it is. I have a few tricks, though. I keep a pretty close eye on kids consignment stores, and when I find a good deal, I buy it, even if it won’t be worn for a couple years. I have a storage box of outdoor gear in the basement for the kids to grow into.

Long underwear is hard to find in a consignment store, however, especially as your children get older. To that I say, thank goodness for online outlet stores! I buy from Sierra Trading Post and REI Garage (what they’ve just renamed their outlet) once a year, to restock my kids outdoor wardrobe with pieces I can’t find used.

Below are items we can’t live without. I will be honest and say, I don’t tend to pay full price for these. And they can be hard to find in the outlets at certain times of the year, like right before winter. End of summer is a great time to start looking. Please know this: no-one is paying me to recommend these items. They are just the things that have worked really well for us.

Thermal Bottoms:

REI Heavyweight Long Underwear-these are on supersale at REI right now, until 11/10/16. They are pretty indestructible.

Icebreaker Lightweight Bottoms-These are pretty thin, and my kids live in them. My daughter, who is hard on clothes, sometimes wears out the knees.

Icebreaker Midweight Bottoms-I’m hoping these last longer

Smartwool Midweight Bottoms-I’ve never bought these for the kids, but I love mine!

Thermal Tops:

REI Heavyweight Top-also on supersale until 11/10/16

Icebreaker Oasis Crew-My kids also live in these.

Smartwool Midweight Crew-These are great for bigger kids (start at size XS). It’s a heavier weight wool than Icebreaker, so probably warmer.

REI Heavyweight Zip-Top-Great for children who have outgrown the adorably-chubby-don’t-have-a-neck-yet phase.

Boots-I look for an insulated rain boot. There are many made with neoprene. We love Bogs a lot, and I often find these at consignment stores. Bogs are rated to 5 degrees, and will keep little feet warm in the snow.  If you do buy them new, know that you can sell these after you are done, and they will last through at least 3 kids. Probably more.

Mittens-I swear by Stonz Wear’s Mittz. They are long, and go over a rain or snow jacket sleeve. They have 2 drawstrings, and cinch down in 2 places, just like an adult snow mitt. My kids wear these in the snow, and on the back of my bike in the cold.

Fall In Seattle

Fall is absolutely my favorite season. I love that we get sun mixed with rain, some warm weather and progressively cooler weather. I love that the rain is not usually the dumping-for-days kind, and if it is, getting totally soaked is such a novel experience again that it feels special and fun. I’m excited to wear my boots and wool again.

When we explore nature with young children in the fall, we get a wide range of experiences. The freedom of running in the sun, the confusion of being bowled over by the wind. The joy of splashing in puddles.


I have two sessions that begin in October, and then I’ll take a break until spring.

Fall Saturdays: October 1-November 19, 10-11:30am, $240 for 1 child, $260 for 2 sibling children. This session is *perfect* for working parents who love to get outside with their kiddos.

Falling Leaves Session: Fridays, October 14-November 18, 10-11:30am, $180 for 1 child, $200 for 2 sibling children.

Have a happy fall everyone. This is a special time in the world.

New Sessions!

I’ve just added a late summer session that is perfect for working parents who want to bond with their children in nature on the weekend. September Saturdays will run August 27-September 17, 10-11:30am, and I’m anticipating some of Seattle’s amazing September weather again this year. Cooling off a little, but sunny and beautiful. We’ll explore the forest, beach, pond and meadow, getting a taste of all Discovery Park’s different habitats.

Fall 2016 sessions will be finalized this week, and I’ll post them by August 1.

Happy summer!

2015 Spring Sessions

I don’t know about you, but I love taking some time at the beginning of the year to plan things to look forward to. With that in mind, here are Itty Bitty Camps spring dates:

Skunk Cabbage Session
Fridays, March 6-April 24, 10-11:30am
In this session, we’ll get to experience the glory of a skunk cabbage wetland in full bloom. We’ll also hunt for frogs on their way to spawn, look for salamanders and egg masses in the pond, and enjoy the forest waking up to the sun.

Spring Saturdays Session
Saturdays, March 28-May 16, 10-11:30am
This session is perfect for families with 2 working parents. This session will run the gamut of spring, and we’ll hike in the forest with all the shades of spring green. We’ll look for frog eggs in the wetland, and salamanders in the pond. The red tail hawks will be out hunting for mates and food, we’ll see them from the meadows.

Spring Into Summer Session
Fridays, May 1-June 19, 10-11:30am
We’ll hike in a fully leafed-out forest, and see the first flowers in the meadows. We’ll hunt for all the pond creatures we can find, including macro invertebrates, tadpoles and salamanders. All of life is awake, looking for food and mates in this session, as the days get warmer, and the sun gets more frequent. This session is the perfect warm-up for a summer spent outdoors!