Thank you for visiting the home blog of Caliso Learning, a natural science-based business celebrating the beauty and ecology of our natural environments. Our goal is to connect you and your family with nature--actually, we want you to fall in LOVE with nature!

Here you will find nature-inspired articles and posts, family activities, personal stories, resources, and more--all with the goal to connect you with the benefits of nature for family fun and inspiration! Please enjoy and let us know what you like :) Follow us on Facebook for even more resources, more frequently!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paint Chip Play

Spring wildflower season is a great time of year to whip out your paint chip rings for fun color matching with your tiny explorers! A Caliso favorite :)

But while at our local improvement store, we couldn’t help but notice the variety of names to be found on paint chips. Looking through a section devoted to childrens’ rooms, we found several fun descriptions that reminded us of our own “little sprout.”

We collected a few examples to bring home and had little fun with collage making using a few family photos.

Collect a few paint chips the next time you’re picking up a pack of lightbulbs or new plants fo the garden and spread them out on the table. The visual of plenty of color along with their descriptive names will inspire an hour or so of collage making for your child. Or use the names & colors as prompts for your little ones to create some unique drawings or for writing poems and stories. After studying a bunch of paint chip names, you can also have your child come up with their own descriptive names for colors found in your yard or on the trail!

A random handful of paint chips can get
the imagination flowing, try connecting
a bunch of paint color names in a silly
story or poem:

I was taking my turtle named Pudding
for a walk when I came upon a Princess
dressed all in pink. She was very upset
and when I asked her what was wrong
she cried, “I shall not be allowed to eat
Mac and Cheese tonight nor grape juice
popsicles because I oops-ccidently got a
grass stain on my pretty pink overalls
and on the toes of my preciously pink
Ballet Slippers!”

“Oh dear that is a shame,” I sighed. I 
scratched at those two freckles on my
wrist when I suddenly got an idea that
would help Princess Pink! Hush, Hush”
I comforted her. I can help…

Friday, March 25, 2011

Try This For Nature Fun!

A common shape.
Recently I had fun running around an oasis searching for the "familiar" in an somewhat unfamiliar environment. Unfamiliar in the sense that looking for the common words or descriptions I was in search of, one would not normally consider a natural environment to find these things.

It was a great morning for all of us who participated. We retrained our eyes and brains to observe nature by its components, individual pieces that when looked at them with a different "eye" would present something before us that was actually quiet familiar. For example, natural components like branches became letters of the alphabet, palm fronds became a face, an animal's burrow became a common shape.

This is a great exercise to introduce children who might feel a little apprehensive about venturing into a "wild" environment. Bringing the familiar into the unfamiliar will help young or new naturalists jump into exploring their surroundings without so much of the anxiety that some may have, especially first-timers.
Give it try with this short list to get you started--the only rule is that there are no rules, finds are based on each individual's interpretation of that word/description! Have fun photographing your finds or identifying them with a parent partner:
  • a common shape(s)
  • support
  • a letter(s) from the alphabet
  • up
  • shelter
  • stripes
  • reflection
  • a found face
  • 3-colors (in one object)
  • opposites
(Don't forget to go over safety/animals/potential hazards important for your chosen environment.)

A letter from the alphabet.

A common shape.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taco, Our Desert Tortoise Emerges

Sunday, March 6th, Taco our oldest desert tortoise woke up and made his first appearance in 2011. Our local weather has been so crazy (freezing, rainy, mild, cold, hot, mild, cool-ish), we were beginning to wonder how it might affect our tortoises’ natural hibernation cycles. Particularly our most experienced burrower, Taco. After about a week of mild weather, Taco emerged…albeit slowly.

When I first spotted him, he was nestled in a sunny corner. He woke up to a tortoise yard full of mustard (thanks to our most recent two storms, boo-hiss mustard!), but also a bountiful, green and blooming apricot mallow plant—one of Taco’s favorite desert treats! The bottom layer of mallow branches were already stripped clean of their fresh, crinkly leaves thanks to his post-hibernation appetite and sharp beak. I cleaned and filled his water dish, then let him be to rest in the last of the day’s sun.

Taco polishes off the leaves
and flowers from an apricot
mallow plant stem.
Taco is slowly waking back into his daily tortoise routine. We will continue providing cactus pads and fruit, wildflowers and other desert plants from around our yard to feed his appetite.

Our other two tortoises, Guacamole and Rufus, are beginning to stir in their pet carrier where these siblings sleep out their hibernation. I expect they will be “waking up” any time now. They usually run two weeks behind Taco. They will get a warm water bath in the next couple of days if their activity stays consistent and will soon be back in their own yard.

Spring continues to yawn, stretch, and blink awake on the desert floor.

Nap time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wildlife Watching and Scientific Journaling

From our last "Side of Nature: Activity" where we encouraged you to tap into your inner naturalist. Practice wildlife watching like a biologist. We tend to anthropomorphize animals when watching or discussing them. We humanize or assume certain animal behavior usually by assigning human emotion, our own experience, expectation, or reaction to a situation that wouldn’t be true for wildlife whose behavior is mostly based on perpetuating their species.

A great exercise for older children and adults is to journal wildlife activity, including scientific observations, exploring the line between inference and observation. For example, what do you observe in the picture above? An scientific observation might include: bird with blue, brown and white feathers, on a wood structure, with a worm or larva in its beak. An inference would be: a bird that is tired and resting on a wood fence,  or with a worm in its beak that it is taking back to its nest to feed its babies.

This bird may not be tired, but scouting its route instead; from the photo, that fence could be a garden border, not a fence. Even if we watched this bird enter a box nest or tree trunk nest, and emerged without the worm, we still couldn't scientifically say it fed babies without actually observing that behavior or activity (it could've dropped the worm, eaten the worm itself, or fed its mate instead). Practice this type of observation to hone your wildlife watching skills--you'll be amazed at the information you can gain just by watching and learning. Then test/research your theories or inferences through books, online research, or by asking another naturalist or interpretive guide to learn more about the behaviors of specific species you have been watching.

You just might discover that your own scientifically based observations will provide a valuable contribution to a growing knowledge base about the wildlife in your area!