Farms and Zoos

Broad Tailed Hawk at Drumlin Farm
We are trying, but struggling to get back into our weekly rhythm. With my parents here Monday morning still it seems to have thrown us off a bit. Plus Hazel was up quite a bit Sunday night--I think the excitement of the weekend got to her and now I'm sick as a result. Oh, well.

Yesterday we went to Drumlin Farm for our class. We focused on vision this week and the guest animal was a broad tailed hawk. It was very neat to see one so close up. I know my father would be jealous so I too lots of pictures for him. He loves hawks!! The discussion of course was the hawk's vision being so good to hunt. This hawk cannot really fly anymore which is why the farm is keeping him there. Then the instructor passed around actual hawk wings, tail and feet for us to feel. It was so interesting.
Next the kids made their own binoculars. She had real ones and magnifying glasses out on the exploration table with many things from nature to look at. These binoculars are very easy. You need two toilet paper rolls, tape, pipe cleaner and string. Punch a hole in each toilet paper roll for the string. Tape the rolls together so the holes face outward and on the top. Wrap the pipe cleaner around to secure even more. Then tie string to holes and you are good to go. Of course the kids all decorated theirs with crayons.
Then we went to Bird Hill to see all the different birds and see if we could find the ones like our class visitor. The interesting thing I learned was that hawks do not have feathers on their feet, but owls do. Owls have feathers on their feet for silent flight. Then we went to the vernal pool and we spotted this wood frog. Hazel wasn't quite herself and didn't want to walk around to see the animals so we went home. We don't have class next week since it is school vacation week so we won't be back to the farm for a couple of weeks.

We have been planning a zoo play mat for Hazel. I got the idea from Made to Play! by Joel Henriques. I love this book!! So many great ideas for homemade toys that grow the imagination. Since the book is for handmade toys and crafts I made a few changes. As a person who loves my sewing machine and does not love sewing by hand, I did some machine applique. It is very easy. First cut the shapes of the colored fabric that you want with a little more to be folded over. Then cut some fusible interfacing a bit smaller than each piece and iron it on following the instructions of the interfacing to the center of each piece. Fold the edges down. If you have curved pieces, you will need to cut periodically to get it smooth. Iron the edges down.

Now the fun part! Figuring out where each piece should go. Lay them out and pin them where you want them to go.

Then you set your sewing machine to a large zig zag stitch and make the stitch length very small (almost button hole small) and zig zag the edges on.

Then I just zig zag stitched any rough edges of the play mat because eventually I'm going to make another side and quilt them together, but wanted the rough edges not to fray too much.
We made some toilet paper roll animals to go with the zoo and we invaded her toys to find other animals including the ones I needle felted for Easter.  The toilet paper roll animals I got from DLTK. I chose the ones that already had color since Hazel is not great about coloring pictures.
Plus we pulled out her other animals we had. Including her magnetic puzzle animals.
The rainbow sheep she received for Easter were put in a pasture.
The swans were put in a lake.

 At one point we even had her dinosaur in there. Oh, and we made a toilet paper roll unicorn. I added some pink roving for the mane and tail. Now we will see how she plays with it.


  1. I love this idea:)Now, learning to sew is on the to do list!!

    1. You could do it with felt and glue or fabric markers on fabric as well if you don't want to sew.

  2. So creative and so much fun. I love that everything is homemade. Thanks so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesdays.

  3. I LOVE this idea! I really want to make a play mat for my daughter. THey just look like so much fun.

  4. What a fun little play mat! Thanks so much for sharing at Terrific Tuesdays.

  5. Wow that is brilliant! I wish I could sew!

    Thank you for sharing on Science Sparks.

  6. Thanks for linking up both your posts to Thinky Linky Thursday!
    Lori @ Cachey Mama’s Classroom

  7. What fun play - love the binoculars =-) Thanks for linking up to TGIF. Have a GREAT week,
    Beth =-)

  8. Cool are such a fun mama! Thanks for sharing this at Shine on Fridays!!

  9. That is so fun! What a great way to help your kids be creative as they play!

  10. What a darling idea!! I am so impressed. I know my Little Man would love this! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!

  11. Wow..I love that you got to see a hawk up so close! And what an awesome playmat! So very cool! I've been thinking about making some playmats and I love how you put this together! Thanks for sharing it at Teach Me Tuesday!


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