Wednesday, September 10, 2014


One of our many side projects over here at Magic Forest is enjoying what's called a 'Matchbox Swap' each month; whereby, children in our Matchbox Swap group decorate and fill little boxes with information they research and learn based on the monthly educational theme that's posted up.  You may recall photo's of the 'Historical Events' boxes we posted up in June, or our Kokopelli Mythology box in July.

In August the theme was 'Favorite Sport or Hobby', prompting one of our students to create a lovely box of her Artwork.  The box she received from her Matchbox Swap partner in return was created around the sport of Sailing.

This past month the theme was Astronomy, and two of our students jumped right in creating some lovely little boxes filled with astronomical treasures. One of the students received their swap partners box in return and was ''over the moon'' with it's creativity and little surprises inside.

It was a smorgasbord of Moon Flip Books, An Astronomy Grab-Bag filled with the Sun, the Moon, Saturn, a Telescope, Stars, and more. Space themed Erasers, a book of Famous Astronomers, some Star Dust, Star Stickers and a Solar System Necklace. Oh, and an 'I-Spy' mini box filled with rice and little trinkets the recipients get to shake to reveal.

These Matchbox Swaps are such a fun way for children to spend learning about various topics. We've swapped themes; such as, Favorite Book, Famous Artist, Mythology, Historical Event, Ocean, Robots, Foreign Country and so many more. You get a month to work on the boxes and is always amazing to see how creative children can be. Our family like to sit around a heaping pile of craft supplies to work on ours together, sharing information we've learned and ideas we've come up with.

Olympics Theme
Rainforest Theme
Ocean Theme
It's a free group to join so if you're interested, head over here to this link and send a request to join: Join Matchbox Swap.  You pick and choose which themes to participate in. If you choose to participate, either as a family or individual children swapping, in a theme, then you then spend the next month learning more about the theme and then decorating and filling a small box with little treasures you either create or find that align to the theme. We fill ours with things like mini books, little games, puzzles, crafts, trinkets, pictures, cartoons, and more.  I don't think we've ever spent any money to make them, only to post them which is about $2 average. The club is called 'Matchbox Swap', but you can use any type of small box to send.  It's honestly more about the creativity and content than anything else.

Next theme is getting posted up this coming weekend an we can't wait!  Since I'm the one who posts up the new themes I already know the topic, but I'm still just as giddy to get started as others :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Moon

Greetings from the Magic Forest!

I hope our silence hasn't been too loud over here :)

We are ever-so-busy getting the last of the edits completed on our educational books so we can get them published!  Tonight I'm sneaking over here to our blog to share some fantastic activities and information from our Moon themed booklet.  One of our students here was inquiring about the upcoming Harvest Moon and why it's so important.  This got us thinking about how awesome the Moon is, and that led to us working on some Moon themed activities.

We hope you enjoy this concise list of Activities, Links and Resources to explore the Moon.
We've also included a Moon Tracker template so you can observe and track all the phases of the moon directly through sky observation.

Enjoy, and we shall see you soon when we announce publication of the Magic Forest books!  It's sooo close now!

Moon Themed Activities
1.Join a local Astronomy Group in your area to learn more about the Moon, Planets, Stars and more. If there is no active group then perhaps you can start one!
2.Visit a local Planetarium. See if they have special talks or films about the Moon.
3.Use Oreo cookies to create the Phases of the Moon on a plate. You can search this popular project on the internet for more instructions that show you how to adjust each cookie to show the white filling just perfectly to create the waxing, waning, full and new moon shapes.
4.Try making Freeze Dried Ice-Cream. Learn about how it was taken on the Apollo 7 space flight, and why it’s not used any longer. You can also find this treat to purchase online or at various stores.
5.Learn hands on about Gravity and Force by trying these Yo-Yo activities -----> Yo-Yo Gravity
6.Learn about the history of Space Exploration and mankind’s first step on the moon. Share your knowledge by creating a display, lapbook or blog so others can learn too
7.After learning how explorers got to the moon, try some experiments with building rockets. Here are some links to several that are fun and educational: Balloon Rocket, RocketScience, ChemicalReaction Rocket.
8.Make some LunarLollipops! (<--Link)

9.Make a mini MoonPhases Flip Book (<--Link)




Moon Tracker Template!
Moon Tracker

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weekly Nature Study Log Book (FREE!)

Here at Magic Forest Academy, we like to study nature, but that doesn't mean that we also wind up studying important academics; such as,  Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Art, History, Geography and more.  As we are studying a Nature theme, we find fiction and research books about the theme to read, and we challenge ourselves to write about the theme; either facts, fiction or poetry, and sometimes plays.  We learn about famous artists who incorporated the them in their artwork, and then we learn about their techniques and create artwork to learn more about the technique. This may lead us to studying where the artist lived, and if it's a country we've not learned about yet, we indulge in some Geography and Social Studies to learn more about the country and cultures.  We also research where in the world the nature exists and how it compares between different countries, or it it's endangered. we incorporate Science with our studies to include Botany, Zoology, Mycology, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Agriculture, Forestry and much more.

It can be challenging to track what academic subjects you're studying whilst indulging in studying different nature themes, so we came up with a really useful Nature Study Log Book that helps you keep track of the academics and more.

The Log Book FREE printable consists of 2 pages you can hole-punch and place in a 3-ring binder or folder side by side so that you can easily see your progress.  There is a section to label your name, the start and end date of the week and the nature theme. There is also a section to keep track of study details by listing each activity you performed in the week and highlighting what academic subject was incorporated in each activity, as well as the date and how many hours were spent.

There is a section to write down important words you learned, or decided you need to learn, how to spell, and a section to the right of that where you can write down your favorite things that you learned
print both pages, face them together, hole punch and then place in a
3-ring binder so you can view both pages side-by-side.
about the theme.  We've also included a handy list you can update with hikes & trips, books, sites, apps,  films, videos and other resources. You can update the list either before you start your studies, or even after in case you found a nifty new resource you want to remember.  There are several sections to get creative as well!  We've included a space to include a drawing or cut-out picture of your theme, an then an even bigger section to sketch or paint your nature theme, or perhaps you wish to glue or tape a piece of real nature instead, or do rubbings or insert a photograph . There's lots of room to be creative, that even includes a space to write a narrative or poetry.  There's even a special little place to write a famous quote about your nature theme, or even a quote you create yourself. 

The Nature Study Log Book is a perfect compliment to the Magic Forest Academy Playbooks we'll be launching in a few weeks, but you can also print and use them on your own.  Just pick a nature theme to study and start filling out the log book after you find suitable activities.  Our playbooks are brimming with activities, but there's so many more you can find, or even come up with yourself.

We hope you enjoy the Weekly Nature Study Log Book, which is completely FREE.  Just print off as many copies as you need! and most importantly, have fun and get outdoors with nature.

(link takes you directly to the .pdf you can print….no adverts/no gimmicks :)

 that give you a years worth of fun and educational journal prompts.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Batty for Bats

Hello from the Magic Forest.  We've been quiet over here on our blog, as we have been completely immersed in designing a natural playscape area for the kiddo's here.  The space was fenced in previously as a temporary home for 2 pound puppies we adopted (meet Emma and Wesley!)

Emma and Wesley now have a MUCH larger play area since they've grown, and instead of dismantling the smaller garden, we're turning it in to a fantastic place for kiddo's to play.  It's a big project, but well worth it.  It means we'll be scarce with new blog posts as we get it sorted, but will be popping in to say hello frequently. 

Today I wanted to share this ADORABLE video of a Bat Orphanage that a friend shared today.  

We love watching bats at mid-evening in the Magic Forest, and every Autumn we head over to Hideaway Cave to do some studies.  If you love bats as much as we do, then you may like these fun activities that are also educational! 

Bat Books
In addition to watching the video above, reading some Bat books can set the mood.  One of our absolute favorite book series is the Silverwing Trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. 

This first book of the trilogy is Silverwing, and it will introduce you to an amazing world of bats, migration and hibernation through the adventures of Shade, a young silverwing bat, and a cast of other bat characters from Marina, a Brightwing bat, Zephyr, the mystical albino bat and Goth, the gigantic vampire bat. This suspenseful story of a quest from Tree Haven to Hibernaculum is filled with friendship, courage, betrayal and survival. We even learn how Shade and his friend defend themselves against an Owl attack!  

Another Bat book that is more of a fun read is Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster. by Ursula Vernon. This graphic novel is sure to bring a few laughs, even though it’s also teaching a bit of science about bats! This is book 4 of a fantastic series sure to grab even the most reluctant readers in to the crazy world of Danny Dragonbreath and his friends.

Both books above are geared towards older children 7-12, but if you are looking for a good read for younger children, then we can highly suggest Bats at the Library, by Brian Lies, and another of our all time favorites we read many times over is Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon

Now that you're fully immersed in baths, why not try some Bat Math!
Upside Down Math
Bats teach us all sorts of math without us even realizing it.

For example, by studying their eating habits, we learn Division based on the principle that bats can eat half of their weight in insects each night. This means that if a bat weighs 8 grams, you would divide 8 in half, which means divide it by 2, and you would have then calculated that this particular bat can eat up to 4 grams of insects in one night. It’s important to understand the dietary habits of bats, because farmers depend on bats to keep insect populations down. You may also appreciate that one of bats’ favorite delicacies are mosquitoes, so the more they eat, the less mosquitoes to eat you.

Bats also show us the benefits of seeing things from upside down. We spend most of our time right side up, and most of our math is performed from top to bottom; however, by doing some upside-down division, you can easily find the Prime Factorization of numbers, or, in other words, the prime numbers that divide in to a number exactly.  In Prime Factorization we ignore the number 1, so remember this rule.  Here’s an example of finding the Prime Factorization using the number 24 and some upside-down division:

Crafty Bats
Upside Down Fruit Bat CraftBat Crafts
Whilst you're focused on being upside down, try this great craft that can repurpose old socks and wire hangers. 

Make several and hang them from tree limbs when Autumn comes and everyone begins decorating their homes with spooky decor.  Or, if you're like the kids in the Magic Forest, you'll enjoy just hanging them in your room for fun year round!

Click the bats in this section for craft instructions. 

Felt & Fringe Bat

These felt & fringe flying bats are also lovely and fun to make that the older children can do on their own, or help the younger ones. 

Paper & Pompom Bats

And yet one more upside bat craft that is easy so you can make many for some great decorations. Don't just limit bat crafts to spooky Halloween fun, because bats are important all year long!

Bat Games!
Despite all the rumors, bats are not blind. They actually have incredible eyesight! However, in the dark night, they do have difficulties seeing insects they need to eat, so bats rely on Echolocation.  Bats will shriek a sound that then bounces off of objects, sending the sound waves back to them. Humans cannot hear these high pitch sounds, but rest assured, bats catch plenty of insects using this method.
Here’s a fun game you can play in the dark whilst pretending to be a bat.  It’s quite easy and you only need some stickers to play. Any stickers will do.
To play, turn out the lights and cover the windows so you have a dark environment. Make sure the space is clean and tidy so you don’t trip or bump in to things. One player is ‘It’ and hides their eyes whilst the other players run about.  After a few seconds, the ‘It’ player can un-hide their eyes and start trying to ‘tag’ the other players with stickers. The ‘It’ player is the bat, whilst the other players are the insects. After a couple of minutes, flip the lights on to see how many insects the bat caught. Play again with someone else as the bat. You can make this more challenging by having the stickers all the same except for one unique sticker and
whichever ‘insect’ is tagged with that unique sticker gets to be the next bat

Bat Science
There are many different types of bats that eat many different types of foods. Do some research of a few types of bats and then using your creativity, create some Menu’s that have pictures of what the bat type looks like, and a list of menu items that they would most likely want to eat.

A few species of bats recommended for this project are; the little brown bat, bumblebee bat, flying fox bat, vampire fat, big-eared bat and the bulldog bat.

For each of your Menu cards, list what the food items are, as well include pictures. 

By the time you have finished all of your research and designing and creating the Menu’s, you will have learned a significant amount of information about many types of bats. This type of study on animals is called ‘Zoology’, which is a scientific branch of Biology. 

If you want to be extra creative, put a price on each insect found on the menu, and instead of monetary values, put how many Echolocation Sound Waves are required to catch a particular insect.  Echolocation is a biological sonar used by some animals; such as bats and dolphins, to locate objects. You may have to study up some more on Echolocation to do this extra part of the science activity, and you may have to tap in to your imagination, but without imagination we wouldn't know most of the science we do today!

You can also come up with some creative recipes bats may like if they were to eat at your Zoological restaurant.  Have fun and be creative! When you're done, pop back by and leave a comment as to what you named your restaurant, we'd love to hear!

I need to get back to word on our fun outdoor playspace now.  I'll be sure to post some before and after pictures when we're done.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy learning more about Bats!