Early Explorers Plants

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Travis’s mailing from Early Explorers this month was all about… Plants! I worried this topic might be dry for a four-year-old, but as always, Little Passports made it approachable and, well, great!

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Travis continues to take to the booklet and its exercises with alacrity now, eagerly telling his dad or friends what unit “Max and Mia” have sent us. To wit, the last time we had a traceable alphabet in our booklet, he did one or two letters grudgingly. This time he wouldn’t let me stop until we’d filled the page.

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Plus we had great mazes, coloring, counting, and even early spelling.

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And of course the mailing included stickers for his wall map, the flashlight find it, and flash cards with more info. Here’s what else we delved into…

Plants Craft:

The suggested art project was very simple: gather leaves and come home to trace them. Unfortunately it’s not the right time of year where we live! I was able to find a few withered oak leaves and a leaf from a holly plant, which at least showed Travis that different plant leaves have very different shapes.

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If it’s spring or fall, you can have a blast with this, and likely make a beautiful collage!

Plants Science:

Here’s where the kit really got hands-on, with instructions on how to grow your own celery plant. Travis returned from school to find pots and dirt, and couldn’t wait. First, help your child cut the base off a full stalk of celery. Place the base in a dish of shallow water.

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Change the water every few days, and dribble a few drops of water on the top daily. You should start to see new celery growth within a few days.

We waited about five days, then placed the celery in a pot, and covered with soil. The fresh leaf tips should stick up from the dirt. Place in a sunny spot, and water every 3 days or so (I watered daily, which seemed to work fine).

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It will continued to grow! You can actually use this celery for soups, salads, or snacks. This is a great way to teach kids where food comes from, and we can’t wait to harvest our little plant!

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Plants Keepsake:

The very first thing Travis wanted this month was his “present”, and he was thrilled to find puffy stickers and a garden background in which to place them, and even more thrilled to learn the stickers are reusable.

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He insisted each sticker smelled differently, too. I couldn’t tell a difference, but if so, that is a very clever trick on the part of Little Passports!

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As a parental aside, I was a touch disappointed by the repeat keepsake. Perhaps a flower pot or seeds might have been more novel.

Plants Field Trip:

Head off to a botanical garden of course! Since it’s winter here, we visited a favorite local garden, but concentrated on the greenhouse instead of the grounds.

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Travis loved the hibiscus room, ready for Christmas! And the cacti were a fast favorite.

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It was hard work to convince him that he really couldn’t touch any of the prickles, but I managed. Our garden also had a wonderful find-it hunt for kids.

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Your children might also enjoy drawing some of their favorite plants, though Travis opted out of this suggestion.

Plants Further Activities:

I had previously purchased a game from Little Passport’s website on veggie sorting, and this was the perfect time to trot it out; Travis was delighted by the vegetables he could “plant.”

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He loved to play with it, and as a parent, i appreciated the various math concepts we could explore, such as counting out by type or color, or simple math equations.

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When that fun was done, we also tried out the celery experiment with potatoes and green onions. It turns out the green onions worked best!

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A vibrant bright bean salad was the perfect chance to count the plant-based foods on our plate, especially because it contained multiple plant parts – spinach leaves, corn seeds, potato roots, and more!

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Travis was also eager to try some of the foods he’d read about in the booklet, so this week I picked up bamboo and corn pupusas at the market.

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We also took the suggestion to count the plants in our neighborhood. This was interesting for mom, too! Our apartment complex is lined with low bushes, and it turns out there are so many varieties we lost count!

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Finally, we headed to the library for a few books on plants. Check your non-fiction section, and see what you find!

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Visit a Local Store

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Veronika and I were in need of a field trip today. With warmer-than-usual weather and bright sunshine, I simply couldn’t stay in the house!

Rather than heading off to an enclosed, sunless mall, I recommend traveling to your nearest Main Street and checking out local stores. Or if your own town doesn’t feel safe for walking about with a stroller, find a cute Main Street a few towns over.


Small boutiques were full of interesting things for Veronika to look at, so much to catch her eye from bright colors to sparkle to contrasting shapes. Here she is checking out jewelry displays…

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…and in the kids section!

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In addition to the visual stimulation, many small shops will have a wonderful smell as you step through the door – pine, or incense, or the aroma of coffees and teas, perhaps.

Needless to say, this was the perfect time of year for local browsing. Even if your baby falls asleep, you can knock out holiday shopping! Even just browsing, it felt good to get out of the house with Veronika, and to support local businesses in the process.

This sign says it all:

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Trade Top Tips

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If you’re a new parent, chances are you sometimes feel like you’re the only one dealing with that particular problem – whatever your baby’s current issue is! Fussiness at night, big siblings who suffer from jealousy, spit up, colic, allergies. You name it! It can be such a relief to have other parents as a sounding board, and to learn you’re not alone. These are the people who get it.

If you are new to being a parent, and don’t have a network yet, check out your local library – many have new mom groups just for this reason: venting sessions, and a chance to share tips!

I tapped into the network from Travis’s school, eagerly seeking advice of veteran moms of two (or more!). It’s great to take a moment just for coffee together while the big siblings are in school.

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That left the moms free to gab. I love finding moments of solidarity (her husband sleeps through all kid interruptions at night, too!) and also being the one to offer tips sometimes (time management, craft ideas).

So today’s activity is to take some time with your own pack of parents. Find a stroller-friendly restaurant or coffee chop, and get talking! Chances are you’ll find more similarities than differences, plus enjoy the adult socializing after a morning of cooing at a newborn.

Also P.S. None of us are having a good night’s sleep. Whether it’s the older 4-year-old having nightmares, the middle child needing milk, or the newborn baby (Veronika) nursing at 3 in the morning, we’re all popping up and down. Somewhere out there in the night, another mom or dad is up! #solidarity