Fun outdoor project: Using recycled crayons to identify leaves

Botany or the study of plants is a great way to introduce simple and basic plant concepts. Plants have many components like leaves, which make parts of trees, bushes, and flowers. When plants grow, they can produce seeds, fruits and leaves. But leaves are powerful producers of photosynthesis. They harness the sunlight energy in the presence of carbon dioxide and water to manufacture sugars necessary for plants to live. Without leaves, trees and plants would not be able to exist.

Leaves are present in different shapes and sizes. Botanists are experts that can distinguish between the various types of leaves. Some leaves can be long, oblong, or short, circular. But these can vary. From simple to complex ones, most leaves have veins. These channels carry nutrients and water to plants.

But young nature explorers can also identify and distinguish the different types of leaves. In this project, children along with adults can explore backyards or parks for several leaves. Children should always be along side adults when exploring unknown places.

Recycled crayons and leaves

How to use broken pieces of crayons?

Materials:

  • Pieces of crayons
  • Aluminum muffin liners
  • Oven

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Collect as many broken pieces of crayons
  • Separate them by color or color tones
  • Place them on separate muffin liners
  • Insert into oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Warning: Only adults should take the muffin pan out.
  • Let the crayons cool
  • Once cool, gently take them out and place on a paper plate or other suitable place
  • Use to color, draw or to do the leaves project below

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How to use crayons to identify types of leaves?

Materials:

  • Crayon slabs
  • Various leaves
  • Construction papers
  • Glue

Instructions:

  • Collect fallen leaves in your backyard or park
  • Select leaves with various shapes and sizes (tip: Make sure to not gather crunchy leaves. They tend to break for this project)
  • Place them on a plastic bag
  • Arrange them on construction paper
  • Color the side with veins
  • Paste them with glue and let them dry
  • Study the veins and contour arrangements

Did you notice the different shapes of each leaf? Did you notice the veins as you color the leaf? When doing this project, make sure to study the structures, forms, and color of each leaf.

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Easy science project for kids: How to grow a Lima bean seed

School science projects can be an exciting time for students who like to explore the wonders of nature. For children, it is a great time to explain the many natural processes that occur around us. A very simple science project, to begin with, is the process of growing a Lima bean seed.

Lima bean seeds are easy to grow and resilient to climate changes. They have a fast growing rate: most beans will sprout in about 14 days. If you’re planning on performing this science project, please be aware of the time it takes to complete the project and the deadline of the science project.

Lima bean seeds are also called ‘butter beans’. It is believed that Lima beans or Phaseolus lunatus originated in South America around 2000 BC. By 800 AD, Lima beans were exported to different parts of Europe and America. Lima bean seeds have a characteristic kidney-liked shape. They are about 1-3 cm long and are usually white. As legumes, Lima beans provide good fiber content and other nutritional minerals.

In this project, you’ll learn how to start the growth of a Lima bean seed and monitor its process.

Materials needed for this project are:

  • 1 clear, clean jar (plastic or glass)
  • 3-4 Lima beans
  • paper towels
  • 1 small piece of paper (optional)
  • tape
  • water

Instructions:

  • Clean the jar thoroughly with mild soap and water. Let dry or wipe dry completely. Set aside. Tip: if using a glass jar, place in a safe place in case of breakage.
  • Select 3-4 Lima bean seeds. Set aside. Tip: avoid selecting more than 4 beans to allow roots to grow. 
  • Use adhesive tape to cover a small section of the jar with dark colored paper. Tip: if not testing for light and dark growth, then skip this section. 
  • Use a dry paper towel and insert into the jar.
  • Insert the beans one a time. Try to spread the beans throughout the jar. Make sure to add 2 beans to the dark part of the jar and 2 beans to the light side of the jar.
  • Spray the paper towel with water. Avoid soaking the paper towel. Tip: To retain moisture in the jar, slightly cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap.
  • Place on a sunny area but avoid excessive heat or cold.
  • Water every day.

Monitor the growth of the Lima bean:

The most amazing part of growing any plant is to display them. Once the science project is done, you can plant them into potting soil.

Metamorphosis: Life cycle of a butterfly

Some of the simplest processes in nature are the most beautiful to observe. Metamorphosis is one of those particular natural changes. The physical changes that some animals endure are spectacular.

In fact, the metamorphosis = metamorfosis of a butterfly is one of the most fascinating common changes in nature.

By definition, metamorphosis is the physical change or transformation in the appearance of particular animals. This physical change can also lead to adaptations to new habitats and behaviors.

Figure 1

In particular, butterflies undergo the change from

egg = huevo

caterpillar = oruga

chrysalis = crisálida

butterfly = mariposa

In certain conditions, butterflies will lay eggs on leaves of milkweed flowers or other wildflowers. In about 3-5 days, the little egg = huevo is ready to hatch. As soon as the eggs start to break, tiny small caterpillars emerge (Figure 2). Within minutes, these hairy-like worms will start to eat the shell of its egg and the leaves around it. It will spend most of its time, eating and conserving energy. And it will remain in the vicinity of where it was born.

Figure 2

The caterpillar = oruga will multiply in size very rapidly (Figure 2). It has eyes to detect only light and darkness, but it uses its tentacles as the sensory guide. It breathes through little holes called spiracles. They also produce a silky substance necessary for molting. Some caterpillars may have colorful stripes that will determine the colors in a butterfly.

Figure 3

During the molting stage, caterpillars will expel a silky skin four times. As the caterpillar comes close to the end of the molting stage, it will find a secure place to begin the next stage. At this moment, caterpillars hang in a J-shape like form (Figure 3) from a secure branch of a tree or shrub. This last expulsion of skin represents the growing caterpillar is close to the next stage: the chrysalis = crisálida.

Figure 4

During the chrysalis stage (Figure 4), the caterpillar is inside this protected housing ready for the physical change. At this part of the metamorphosis process, the chrysalis is now a pupa. Within the pupa = pupa, the wings of the butterfly, the antennas, and the proboscis are being formed.

As the pupa becomes more and more transparent in appearance, the butterfly = mariposa is ready to emerge. After 10-14 days, a beautiful butterfly is ready to spread its wings. At first, its wings are wet and will wait until they’re dry to uncurl its proboscis to drink the nectar from a nearby flower (figure 1). Then, it will spend most of its time finding a mate to continue the life cycle of the butterfly.

To learn more about butterflies, check out the Science Worksheet section and the 5 great places to find butterflies around the United States.