Tag Archives: PBS

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Great Winter Nature Activity: Butterfly Rearing Kit

Although there are many ways to play outside in winter, sometimes an indoor activity is the call. If that’s the case, you might want to look into this activity that allows you to witness first-hand the life cycle of the butterfly — a Butterfly Rearing Kit.

I got to witness a Butterfly Rearing Kit at my daughter’s pre-school. It’s a completely delightful experience and makes a great indoor nature activity for winter or any time of year. The kit comes with a foot-tall cylindrical net cage that can be hung, placed on a tabletop or stored until you’re ready to use it; five or more caterpillars (depending on kit size); food; all materials needed to perform feedings; and complete instructions. It’s an ingenious way to be able to witness the fascinating life cycle as the caterpillars transition to chrysalises, and finally to Painted Lady butterflies.

Caterpillars can even be shipped at a later date. The Nature Gift Store guarantees that a certain amount of butterflies will hatch within three weeks. At that time, if it’s warm enough, they can be let out to fly on their own.

The Butterfly Site also has terrific information about butterflies, their rearing and life cycles, conservation, migration, and much, much more. Reading about glorious butterflies makes me want to watch their metamorphosis again with my family, perhaps in time to release butterflies in spring so they can graze from the local wildflowers and begin the process of the adult life cycle.

In addition, this week PBS’ is running a one-hour documentary, The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies, about the twice-yearly 2,000-mile migration of the Monarch butterfly. The above PBS link has information about when you can see the show locally, as well as clips you can watch.

Photo: Nature Gift Store

Ken Burns’ The National Parks on PBS


Ken Burns’ new series, The National Parks, America’s Best Idea, began Sunday night on PBS stations, and is slated to run for six nights. (If you missed the first part, don’t worry. There are ways to catch up online and on TV.) The photography is amazing, as is the poetry used to describe the scenery, and you’d be forgiven for sitting gape-mouthed, as I did, through the majestic tour and sweep of the parks’ landscapes and history.

The U.S. National Park System is truly a treasure, with more than 84 million acres in 400 parks around the country, most of them quite majestic and full of fun things to do and see and ways to relax amid impossibly picturesque nature.


The National Park System began 150 years ago, spurred on both by the glory of California’s Yosemite Valley, and the specter of Niagara Falls, on the U.S./Canadian border, which at that early date had already had many of its scenic overlooks privatized by people charging tourists for the famous views.

It was John Conness, the junior senator from California, who introduced a revolutionary bill that proposed setting aside a large tract of natural land for the future enjoyment of everyone.

In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the law to preserve an area he had never even seen. California took over more than 60 square miles of federal land, on the condition that the land would forever be preserved for “public use, resort, and recreation.” In years and decades to come, John Muir and then Theodore Roosevelt would champion the National Parks, further embedding them in Americans’ psyches and popularizing their use.



The PBS National Parks web site is extremely rich with pictures, history and maps, so you can learn more and get out and explore a national park. The U.S. National Park Service web site is another great place to discover a park near you. It offers a great activity search tool, so you can also find some fun things to do once you get there.




Photos: Acadia National Park, ME (two photos); Muir Woods, CA; Grand Canyon, AZ; Acadia National Park (a great, somewhat challenging, very rewarding bike loop, in addition to hiking); Grand Canyon (lots of good hiking trails in addition to the world-famous view); Acadia National Park, Grand Canyon, Muir Woods (on the recent National Day of Service.)

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