By now you’ve weathered the back to school chaos and have hopefully settled into new routines. Days spent cooped up in the classroom hopefully will have your children scrambling to get outside when they get home. This month’s post was inspired by 15 Minutes Outside: 365 ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids by Rebecca P. Cohen J790.191 C678F, shelved in our parenting section in the preschool area.
An easy way to enjoy the fading summer days is to have the kids do their homework outside. Soak up some vitamin D while you can on the back patio or lay a blanket out on the lawn. It’ll be a nice change of pace and you might also spot some butterflies.
September is peak migration month for monarch butterflies traveling south to Mexico and California. In late summer, these familiar orange and black butterflies make the long journey to warmer climates. While the average monarch travels a daily distance of about 50-80 miles, one tagged butterfly holds the record of having travelled over 200 miles in one day! Learn all about the monarch butterflies and track this year’s migration at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/News.html
You can coax these beauties to rest in your yard by making it butterfly-friendly with some of their favorite flowers like asters and milkweed. Milkweed is considered the primary host plant for monarchs and is available in several varieties - check with your local garden center for availability. Fall is a great time for planting and hummingbirds also love some of these same plants so check out this link for more nectar-rich plant suggestions - http://www.almanac.com/content/plants-attract-butterflies
Another simple way to attract butterflies to your yard is to put out some sweetened fruit for them. On page 82 of Monarch Magic! by Lynn M. Rosenblatt J595.789 R813M you’ll find a recipe suggestion…
You’ll need: ripe bananas, strawberries, watermelon and/or apples, sugar, water and honey
1. Slice the fruit into a flat bowl, plastic container, or pie tin.
2. Make sugar water by mixing 2-3 teaspoons of sugar and honey with about ½ cup water. Add the sweetened water to the fruit plate.
3. Place the dish on a porch, bench, or in the garden. Be careful, bees like this snack too!
4. Keep an eye out for butterflies and other flying friends.
And speaking of fruit; it’s not too late to go berry picking as some berries are still in season. Peak season for blueberries and blackberries is winding down in September but some varieties of raspberries and strawberries may be available locally through October, as well as grapes. Peaches too, which “pair” well with many berries (pun intended) may still be available from local farmers. Berries are especially easy to freeze, simply wash and lay flat on a cookie sheet or line a cardboard lid with wax paper and place in your freezer. Once frozen, they can be sealed in plastic freezer bags and used through the winter for pancakes, muffins or smoothies! The following link has a great guide to local farms (organized by county) where you can find fresh seasonal produce as well as fun family activities. http://www.pickyourown.org/OHcleveland.htm
So get your family outside and soak up the last rays of summer sun!
For further butterfly reading and activities with your little one…
The Lamb and the Butterfly by Arnold Sundgaard, JP
Butterfly Tree by Sandra Markle JP
Making Butterfly Gardens by Dana Rau J638.5789 R239M
Grow Your Own Butterfly Farm by John Malam J638.5789 M236G
Young Adult fiction for your teen…
Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett YA
The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison YA