How to Teach Your Children the True Spirit of Christmas

In the rush of the holiday season, it’s good to take a step back and remind not only yourself, but your littles on what the true spirit of Christmas is all about.

The True Spirit of Christmas

Of course as parents, we are setting an example for our children with everything we do.  If they see us stressed and harried running around shopping for gifts the entire season, what does that imprint on their mind?  That the holiday season revolves around gifts and material goods.

The true spirit of Christmas is that of giving, caring, and compassion. It’s up to you to teach your little ones about the spirit of the season. Here are some tips that should help you:

  1. Have Discussions – When it comes to learning, repetition is always a good thing!  Every time they seem to be getting a little too caught up in what presents they’ll receive, you may want to remind them that Santa doesn’t bring everything.  It may also be helpful to redirect their thinking towards how they can help others – having your children participate in selecting items for a toy drive and collecting canned food for the needy may be a good place to start.
  2. Donate & Clean Out Old Toys – The holidays are a perfect time to sift through your children’s old toys and get rid of what they don’t use.  Have your children help!  Explain to them that there are some kids who won’t receive gifts at all that year and they have the power to give them something this holiday season.
  3. Get Family Members On Board – We all know how Grandparents love to spoil their grandkids!  Talk it through with them and enlist their help.  With the same message being sent from all adults in their life, a child will be much more likely to remember the lesson taught.
  4. Utilize the Media – There are several great children’s television programs that address the matter of giving back.  If the theme comes up, use it as a teachable moment!  Your child is likely to be much more receptive of this subject when Sophia the First has provided a bit of a baseline.

Here at JM Cremps, we believe Christmas should be a peaceful, joyful time filled with laughter, good food, and the best of memories with those you love. If you’re looking for ways to spend more family time together, don’t forget to check out JM Cremps collection of board games, card games, & more!  You’ll turn those snowed-in evenings into the best times you’ve had all winter.

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving Day

As with any holiday, it’s important to know the real reason why we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  If your answer to the “why” is that we’re just so thankful for all the Black Friday deals coming on the following day, I’d have to rap your knuckles with an imaginary ruler.  Allow me to set you straight.

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe - The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe – The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth

Let’s start at the beginning.  A most beloved and festive holiday, Thanksgiving has its origins all the way back to a time when the America we know today was still a vast wilderness teeming with wild animals who were hunted by the fierce Native Americans living there.  Following the harvest of November 1623, the governor William Bradford of the 1620 Plymouth Colony, “Plymouth Plantation”, in Plymouth Massachusetts proclaimed:

Thanksgiving quote

Pilgrims and Native Americans alike gathered to share in that year’s bountiful harvest.  Just like that a timeless tradition was born!

Over the years the actual date of Thanksgiving has been changed, but the true reason we celebrate has, of course, remained solid and unchanging.  On November 1, 1777, the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation was proclaimed by order of Congress and signed by Henry Laurens, President of Continental Congress.  The third Thursday of December, 1777 was thus officially set aside: “…for solemn thanksgiving and praise. That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor;… and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them (their manifold sins) out of remembrance… That it may please Him… to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth of ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’…”

George WashingtonThen, on January 1, 1795, our first United States President, George Washington, wrote his famed National Thanksgiving Proclamation, in which he says that it is… “…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue is… our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced…”  George Washington had the 19th day of February, 1795 set aside as a National Day of Thanksgiving.

Many years passed until, on October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, Abraham Lincolnby Act of Congress, an annual National Day of Thanksgiving “on the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” In this Thanksgiving proclamation, our 16th President says that it is… “…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord… But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people…”
Thanksgiving

And so to this day, in homes all across America, we will sit down with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day and take time to be thankful for the many blessings and gifts we’ve received throughout our lives.

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Looking for a science project for your homeschooled kids, or just something fun and educational for your kids to do?  This activity is sure to spark a bit of curiosity in your child, as it gives them the chance to play weather forecaster.  Predicting the weather may seem a bit like magic, but after a couple weeks of checking their barometer, they’ll have a much better understanding of how this can be done!

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 1: Gather the things you’ll need. These consist of: Scissors, tape, a balloon, a jar, an elastic rubber band, a straw.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 2: Blow up the balloon carefully and then let the air out of it again. (This is to stretch it.)

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 3: Cut the balloon in half. Discard the piece with the neck on it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 4: Take the remaining piece of the balloon and stretch it across the glass or jar.Keep it stretched firmly across and seal it down with the rubber band, around the rim of the glass jar. To make an airtight seal, avoid gaps between the balloon and the glass.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 5: Tape the straw onto the balloon lid; the straw should be sitting one quarter of a way on the lid, with the tape about 2 cm or 1 inch from the edge of the straw end that is sitting on the balloon lid. The straw is your indicator “needle”. Trim the straw if it’s too long, but leave more length off the jar as what is attached to it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 6: Put the finished glass jar next to a wall and tape a piece of paper or card to the wall behind it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 7: Mark the current position of the straw on the paper, and mark one above and below the mark, about the same length away, and label the high and low pressure. Arrange the paper so there is room above and below the straw for you to make more marks when the straw moves.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 8: Check the straw regularly and keep marking its location on the paper for a few days. Add notes that tell you what the weather is like (for example, “rainy,” “windy,” or “sunny,”) next to the mark.

  • Examine the paper after several days. Check the markings and the weather statements you’ve put next to them. What do you notice? Can you tell if and when the weather is about to change? See “Tips” for the answers.

Q&A

  • Does the barometer have to be outside?  Yes, it is very important to leave the barometer outside so that it can record more effectively.
  • What can a barometer indicate about the weather?  A barometer can only measure air pressure, giving an indication of the expected weather during the following 24 hours. Simply put, high pressure is likely to drive rain bearing clouds away, low pressure will likely let it in, leading to precipitation (rain).
  • Why do we blow up the balloon before using it?  To stretch it out. If you just pull the two ends, you can rip it and you will have to get a new one.

Tips:

  • As the straw moves up with higher air pressure, the days should be sunnier. As the straw lowers, the skies may be looking gray and you should expect cloudy or rainy weather on the way.
  • When you fitted the balloon over the glass, you captured air under a certain pressure. The balloon now indicates changes in the atmospheric pressure, that is, the pressure of the air around you. Higher air pressure pushes the balloon into the jar and makes the straw go up. Conversely, the air inside the jar expands against lower pressure and will bulge the balloon, moving the straw down. The straw makes it easier to see the motions of the balloon.
  • Also notice that the straw moves up or down just before a weather change since a change in weather typically coincides with a change in the atmospheric pressure.
  • Try to take each reading at the same temperature, since air expands when heated and contracts when cooled, which would also move the straw-indicator.
  • Check your results against the pressure from weather reports for your area. If you didn’t do it correctly, keep trying until you get it right.
  • Try this over a longer period of time if you’re having a week of rain or a week of sunshine. Try to choose the seasons likely to bring the most changes during a short period of time in your part of the world.
  • This is a delicate item. Place it away from foot traffic and daily activity.
  • Don’t leave the balloon in direct sunlight; this will wear it out and can affect the experiment.
  • Make sure there are no gaps or air holes in the balloon during the experiment; this will affect the outcome.

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

One of the most valuable (pun intended) things you can teach your child is how to responsibly manage money.  Of course parents teach by example from the day their kids are born, but there will also come a time when we need to begin teaching them certain principles that they will use for the rest of their lives.  Listed below are several simple principles that will be a huge help for your child.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

  1. Show them that everything we receive in this life is a gift that comes from God, and we must look to him for all of our needs.  We teach them to be at peace in their heart and minds by helping them to understand submitting to his authority where money is concerned.  
  2. A perfect first subject to teach would be the simple principle of tithing 10% first, saving 10% second, and living within the remaining 80%.  As your children become more familiar with this concept, encourage them to increase the tithe and savings amounts as their self-discipline increases.
  3. Budgeting.  Teach your child how to budget, and you will also be teaching them how to plan ahead.  A valuable principle in every area of their lives, this will help them greatly.  As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  When your children start getting older, give them a chance to open their own checking accounts, budget their own money, and absolutely to make their own mistakes.
  4. A penny saved is a penny earned.  Kids need to learn to save for three things: purchases, an emergency fund, and wealth-building.  Saving for purchases is my favorite, and also the easiest! The other two are just as important though.  For teens, $500 for the emergency fund might be a good start, as this will cover things like car repairs or any unexpected purchases.  By having this emergency fund, they’ll learn to start being independent rather than relying on you whenever an emergency hits.  It’s a win-win!  And of course your kid doesn’t have to be a stock market guru, but if you can help them understand the power of compound interest, you’ll be setting them up with financial success for the rest of their lives.  
  5.  Give, give, & give again.  One lesson that was pounded into my head as a child was “for heaven’s sake, can you just SHARE already?” While it may have been frustrating for my parents at the time, they really instilled the important value of giving into my life. Giving is so powerful because it not only changes the recipient, but the giver as well.  This is one principle that is important for your children to see modeled by you.  When your children see the positive consequences shine in your life, it’ll drive the lesson home.
  6. Be wary of debt.  As a teenager, your child will soon face the temptations of credit cards and student loans.  They’ll hear a lot of things as they head off to college like: “Normal is broke.”  “Car payments are just a part of life.”  “You can’t live without a credit score.” and my personal favorite “It’s not even possible to live without debt.”  Absolutely NONE of these are true, and it’s best to help them understand this before they step out into adulthood.  

 

Remember that more is caught than taught!  It’ll stick in their heads better to see you living out these principles in your own life rather than just giving them lectures here and there.  You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to money (no one is), but you do need to make sure you’re being a strong example or none of what you say will stick!  Also, be honest with your kids about financial mistakes you’ve made.  Allow them to learn from your mistakes!  By teaching your children these essential financial principles, you’ll have given them confidence and a hand-up in life.

Don’t forget to check out our selection of toys and products that are great resources for teaching kids financial principles.  We believe it’s never too early to teach youngsters about money, finance, and even investing.  While play money may seem just like another toy, it can be used to teach kids about finances, saving, and math. In our minds, that’s a toy with some real value!

How to Make a Volcano: Science Experiment and Activity for a Rainy Day

Making a volcano is an ideal science experiment, home school project, or just something for the kids to do on a rainy day. Even adults will enjoy this one!

Note: Always pour the lava ingredients somewhere that it’s safe to make a mess. It is recommended to set off the actual volcanic explosion outside if you don’t want to clean up a mess!

How to Make a Volcano

Step 1: Get a good working surface. You will want a surface that can get messy, because this will get very messy.

How to Make a Volcano

Step 2: Get a container. You will want a fairly large container, such as a 32oz soda bottle.

How to Make a Volcano

Step 3: Form the outside of the volcano. You can make the outside from clay, playdough, dirt, soil, or tin foil. Paint it brown and black to make it look more realistic. Let it set until it is all dry.

How to Make a Volcano

Step 4: Pour your hydrogen peroxide. Get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from a beauty supply store. You will need a 6% solution (usually labeled as “20-volume”. Pour half a cup of the hydrogen peroxide into the container in your volcano.

  • Be careful with hydrogen peroxide. You hurt yourself if you touch it too much or get it in your eyes. Only adults should handle hydrogen peroxide.How to Make a Volcano
  • If you want to make the reaction even more dramatic, use a 30% solution of hydrogen peroxide. This may be more difficult to find, however.

How to Make a Volcano

Step 5: Mix in soap and food coloring. Mix in at least six drops of red food coloring and two drops of yellow food coloring. Then mix in about two tablespoons of dish soap.

How to Make a Volcano

Step 6: Mix yeast. Get a tablespoon of dry yeast and mix it with 3 tablespoons of water in a separate small cup.

How to Make a Volcano

Step 7: Pour the yeast. Pour the yeast mixture into the volcano

  • Stand back!How to Make a Volcano

For more rainy day activities and science experiments, don’t forget to check out our Toys & Games, Science Kits, and Discovery Kits as well!  You might as well throw the word “bored” out of your word bank, because you won’t be needing it anymore.

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How To Make a Volcano.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin: A Delicious Seasonal Treat

One of our favorite fall-time activities is pumpkin carving, but let’s not forget that pumpkins are good for more than just decorations!  Cinnamon roasted pumpkin is a delicious, healthy autumn dish that can either be served as a side-dish to your main course or as a dessert.

You will need:

  • Three pounds pumpkin, peeled and seeded
  • Quarter cup brown sugar
  • One teaspoon cinnamon
  • Half teaspoon salt
  • Two tablespoons peanut or olive oil

Total Time: 1 hour | Servings: 4-6

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (162 degrees Celsius). In a small bowl, add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin
Step 2: Slice. Use a chef’s knife to cut the pumpkin into 2 inch (5.1 cm) pieces. You can either cut them into cubes or slices that are about 14 inch (0.6 cm) thick.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin

Step 3: Coat the baking dish. Coat baking dish with cooking spray, olive oil, or butter to prevent the pumpkin from sticking. Place the pumpkin into the baking sheet.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin

Step 4: Add oil. Use a basting brush to cover the pieces with peanut oil, olive oil or butter. If you do not have a basting brush, then use a spoon to drizzle the oil onto the pumpkin, being sure to coat each piece.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin

Step 5: Sprinkle seasonings. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the cinnamon and sugar. Cover the baking dish.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin

Step 6: Bake. Have the pumpkin bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the baking dish and stir the pumpkin, then bake again, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes. Pumpkin should be soft when finished.

Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin

Step 7: Allow to cool and then serve. Pumpkin can be served as a side dish or as a dessert. Consider serving with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. Dust with a little bit of spice for a nice presentation, & enjoy!

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How To Roast a Pumpkin.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

The Incredible Benefits of Reading Fiction

An avid reader myself, I was overjoyed when I found out that quality, age-appropriate fiction books can actually help to cultivate morality in children.  I’d suspected as much just from seeing the benefits in my own life.  Books and stories have played a huge part in shaping me to be who I am today.  Seeing the research behind the facts though gave me one of those “I knew it!” moments.  In fact, there are actually a lot more benefits to reading fiction books than you might realize!  Certainly there are more than I ever expected to find.

Ever since Plato tried to ban fiction from his ideal republic, the question “does fiction build morality of individuals or does it break it down?” has been asked.  Until recently, we’ve only been able to guess at the answer.  Because we read non-fiction with our intellectual guard up, we’re much less able to be moved or persuaded.  In contrast, we get so absorbed in fictional stories that we drop our shields, which allows us to be moved emotionally.  When we’re moved emotionally, a point is really driven home.  For example, most stories show the good guy being rewarded after a struggle, and the bad guy ending up much the worse for wear.  This causes us to understand at a very basic level the power of “good”.  Fiction mainly shapes us for the better – promoting our ability to understand other people as well as promoting a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds.

The Incredible Benefits of Reading Fiction

History has shown fiction’s ability to change our values at a societal level as well. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped spark the Civil War by emotionally moving Americans to show that slaves are people, and slavery is inhumane and cruel.

Apparently the brain doesn’t make much distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it in real life.  In both cases, the same neurological regions of the brain are stimulated.  Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on (the) minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”  Fiction – with its endless textured details, imaginative metaphors, and in-depth descriptions of people and situations – offers a particularly rich simulation.  In fact, in one way the experience is one completely unavailable to reality: the ability to fully enter into a person’s mind to see what they think and feel what they feel.

Maybe it is because of this experience that fiction has shown to promote empathy.  Another body of research proves this point – that the act of reading hones our social skills.  Dr. Oatley and Dr. Mar, along with several other scientists, reported the result of two studies, published in 2006 and 2009, which show that those who frequently read fiction seem to be more adept at understanding others, empathizing with them, and seeing the world from another’s perspective.  A 2010 study by Dr. Mar showed a similar result in preschool-age children.  The more stories that were read to these children, the deeper their ability to understand people and their actions.  Truly, brain science shows that the claim to fiction cultivating morality is more accurate than we imagined.  As Oatley puts it, fiction serves the function of “making the world a better place by improving interpersonal understanding.”

The old fashioned virtues of reading novels can seem to be frivolous or inconsequential.  However, you can see that emerging-science studies have proven time and again that fiction is good for more than a casual enjoyment.  By building empathy, fiction helps reduce social friction.  In addition to this, quality stories seem to exert an almost magnetic force, drawing us together around common values and feelings.  Plus, it gives us a wonderful opportunity for dialog with our children.  As parents, it’s important to be aware and discuss what they are reading.  We want to make sure they’re reading things that we approve of.

What a wonderful pastime reading is!  Share with your children the joy and values you’ve discovered in reading fiction books.  JM Cremp’s has a vast selection of classic, history, and fantasy fiction books that are all just waiting for your child to pick them up and venture into their riveting worlds.

How To Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or not, you have likely struggled with the issue of a child’s lack of concentration at some point during your parenting years.  Of course we know that children are curious, energetic discoverers.  This is natural.  However, some children struggle more than others.  Many frustrated parents don’t know where to turn for help.  What if there were some simple antidotes and tools you can use to improve concentration?  There is.  Of course no solution will work for everyone, but we think you’ll find the following suggestions extremely helpful.  Your sanity will thank you!

How to Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

So, how can you motivate and improve your child’s focus?  There are several different tools available.  In the beginning, it’s best to try them all to see what works best for you and your family.

1.) Attend to physiological needs.  Ensure your child gets 9 hours of sleep every night.  Reduce sugar intake & increase protein levels (lean meat, almonds, & eggs).  This stimulates dopamine which makes concentration easier, particularly for lethargic kids.  Taking frequent breaks for exercise will have a similar effect.

2.) Remove distractions at home.  Make a list of things that may prevent concentration (i.e. noise, people, lighting, fighting, tiredness, & hunger). Then go through each distraction and come up with a solution.  Make sure you implement those solutions daily!

3.) Create the right mood for concentration.  Playing calming background music, placing a fish tank (with fish) in the environment, and reducing fluorescent lights have all been proven to be successful in creating the right mood.

4.) Introduce sequencing & organization activities (i.e. following recipes, setting the table, and putting things in alphabetical order.)  Board and card games help as well.  Chess has proven to be particularly good for improving focus long-term. Their minds become incrementally stronger, alleviating the concentration problem, and in many cases, almost entirely curing it. The study of chess also instills patience and can help a child’s attitude.

5.) Find out which activities your child focuses on best.  Some kids do best with hands-on activities, and some do best with a lot of visual cues.  Look for activities that your child gets lost in for hours.  These activities can enhance your child’s concentration levels.

These are only a few of the tools we’ve found helpful through the years.  I’m sure there are many more that you’ll find that will work in your home. Before assisting your child with their concentration habits, pay close attention to their pattern of concentration and observe if there are any obvious links between diet, energy pattern, sleep, and your own behaviors.  Remember to lead by example!

Concentration can be improved and made automatic.  Picture the first time you drove a car.  No doubt the prevailing, panicky thought in your head was, “How on earth can I focus on all of this stuff at the same time?!”  After enough practice, your brain built pathways of concentration, and the task of driving has become a smooth and easy one.  Take action today and make the process of learning a lot more enjoyable for both you and your children!

Book Review – The Dangerous Book for Boys

Whether you’re a boy of 8 or 80, you’ll love The Dangerous Book for Boys!  The title sounds a little intimidating, but be sure to dive in a bit before making a snap judgement.  In these days of video games and battery powered toys that do everything except buy themselves for you, today’s unimaginative kids need to learn how to PLAY again. This book is filled with good old-fashioned, get-off-the-couch, get-out-of-the-house and get dirty ideas.

Book Review - The Dangerous Book for Boys

A perfect way to stay out of trouble but still have fun, The Dangerous Book for Boys covers essential boyhood skills such as building tree houses, learning how to fish, finding true north, and even answering the age old question of what the big deal with girls is. In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage.

This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun—building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world’s best paper airplanes.

As one reader put it, “It is perfect tinder for a young mind to fan the flames to the fire of personal wonder for the rest of their lives.”

You won’t want to put it down!  Pick up a copy today at jmcremps.com, and be sure to take a look at The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things To Do, and The Pocket Dangerous Book For Boys: Things To Know.  Happy reading!

Favorite Fun Facts about North America’s Diverse Animals

North America is home to an extremely diverse range of animals, some of which are both prey and predator alike.  When we picture a predator, usually what comes to mind is an enormous, intimidating creature with razor sharp teeth and claws, snarling and snapping viciously.  However, did you know that the small, cute ladybug is a predator?  Similarly, when we picture prey, we usually think of a small, timid animal bounding away to hide under a rock.  As huge and regal as they are, it’s easy to forget that the American Bison fits into the prey category as well.  Clearly not all is as it seems!  We’ve researched and compiled a list of our favorite fascinating facts about some of the animals in the North American food chain.
Favorite Fun Facts About North America's Food Chain
American Bison: These creatures primarily eat grasses, weeds, and leafy plants, typically spending 9-11 hours a day foraging.  The large protruding shoulder hump comes in handy in the winter, allowing them to swing their head from side to side, clearing the snow away to create a foraging patch.
Housefly: Houseflies don’t let their short lifespan (14 days) get in the way of making music!  They always hum in the key of F.
Mantis:  Closely related to termites and cockroaches, praying mantis have been known to stalk and kill hummingbirds!
Octopus:  Our feathered friends aren’t the only ones with beaks – octopuses do too!  They need these strong beaks to break open the hard shells of the prey they eat.
Favorite Fun Facts About North America's Food Chain
Wolverine: These animals have an incredible sense of smell.  If an animal is hiding under the snow, a wolverine can smell it from 10-20 feet down.  While we consider this a fun fact, I doubt the prey harbors the same sentiment!
Burrowing Owl: This owl was so named because it lives underground in burrows that have already been dug by small animals like ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
Nine-Banded Armadillo: The world’s most widespread armadillo can be found in North, Central, and South America.  When startled, they can execute a five-foot vertical leap, thanks to the tension and flexibility of the armored “scutes” along its back.
Opossum: This scary-yet-adorable dumpster diver has the ability to neutralize any kind of poison, even those he’s never encountered!  Opossums can do this because their bodies produce a protein called lethal toxin-neutralizing factor.  So be nice to this little guy when you see him, perhaps his species will do great things for humankind someday!
Favorite Fun Facts About North America's Food Chain
Blue Whale: Yes, we know they’re enormous.  But to put their size in perspective a bit, did you know that their tongue alone can weigh as much as an adult elephant?  That is one massive creature!
These are just a few of our favorite fascinating facts that we’ve found.  With an estimated 432 species of mammals, more than 800 species of birds, more than 100,000 known insect species, 311 known reptiles, 295 amphibians, and 1154 known fish species in the continental United States alone, there is so much more to discover! Don’t forget to check out our collection of nature books for more information about the incredible flora and fauna that can be found in North America.