Archive for ‘Seasonal Camps’

November 21, 2014

Little Sprouts Have a Desert Adventure!

by Melissa Harding


Even though it is cold outside, our Little Sprouts spent a day in the desert at Phipps! During our latest Little Sprouts, Our Desert Adventure, campers learned that deserts are hot, dry and full of special plants and animals that love to live there. They explored succulent plants and even planted one of their own to take home. Of course, they also sang songs, met a puppet, and got up close and personal with some plants in the Conservatory.

To begin, campers played in our sand and dirt sensory bins. Young children love to put their hands in the interesting textures and practice their motor skills by filling containers and using funnels and sieves.

After singing out welcome song together, the campers explored their mystery boxes. Inside they found sand, stones, succulent leaves and a picture of a jackrabbit. Campers used magnifying glasses to investigate the sand and rocks and squeezed the water out of leaves from our burrow’s tail plant. They also met our friend Bunny, who introduced them to his desert cousin, the jackrabbit. Campers practiced hopping like jackrabbits and even sang a song about hopping as they did so.

Next, campers and their caretakers worked together to plant jade plugs, gently tucking them into the soil and watering them to take home. After planting, campers ate a healthy snack of apples and bananas while Miss Hanna read a story about different animals that live in the desert. Finally, Miss Hanna introduced the campers to the day’s special plant, a jade, and led an adventure to the desert room to find our plant friend in the garden.

We had so much fun and can’t wait for our next Little Sprouts program in the new year!

To see more images from camp, check out the slideshow below:

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Join us for our next Little Sprouts adventure in 2015! We will be learning all about bugs and why they are so important to plants and people in Our Bug Friends, January 16, 9:30-10:30 am and 11:00 am-noon. Please call Sarah Bertovich to register at 412-422-4441 ext. 3925 or visit our website.

The above photos were taken by Science Education staff and volunteers.


November 17, 2014

Evening Ed-Ventures: Art Party!

by Melissa Harding


As Henry David Thoreau once said, “This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.” During last weekend’s Evening Ed-Ventures: Art Party, our campers used their imaginations and the natural world to find inspiration to create works of art. Campers created sculptures and healthy snacks, learning about nature through art.

To begin, campers were given a blank inspiration mural. They were asked to draw or write about the things that most inspire them. Campers drew everything from baseballs to butterflies, explaining the different things in each of their lives that make them happy and give them inspiration. They then introduced themselves and their favorite kind of art.

After all this talk of inspiration, it was time to get down to business and start prepping their materials. As always, our art projects were made from repurposed items and natural materials. Campers spent time crumbling bread  and adding it to glue, dish soap and water to make bread clay. While their clay was getting nice and gooey, they went into the Conservatory to check out the sculptures that make their home among the plants. They learned about Dale Chihuly and how he makes his glass sculptures, guessing what things from nature were the inspiration for each piece. They also found the inspiration from plants in the Serpentine Room and Palm Court, jotting down their favorite ones in their journals.

All of this inspiration made everyone feel pretty hungry, so it was time for a snack. Sticking with the theme of art, campers created “snulptures” – part snack, part sculpture – out of blue corn chips, cheese and fruit. What a delicious project! After creating their edible sculptures, campers went back down to the classroom to create some no-edible ones out of their bread clay. They added natural materials like leaves, pine cones and sticks to add an autumnal feeling to their art. It was such a fun night – truly an art party!

Check out the slideshow below to see more images from camp:


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If program sounds fun, check out Evening Ed-Venture: Fun with Food on February 13, 6:30-9:30 pm. To register, contact Sarah Bertovich at 412/441-4442 etx. 3925.

The above photos were taken by Phipps Conservatory Staff.

October 25, 2014

Upcoming Little Sprouts: My Desert Adventure

by Melissa Harding


This November, join us for the next installment of Little Sprouts, My Desert Adventure.  Phipps Little Sprouts camps for 2-3 year-olds and their adult caregiver are interactive programs for child and adult to experience together.  Each session will take place in the Tropical Forest and include songs, stories, sensory experiences, and healthy snacks. In My Desert Adventure, campers will meet animals and plants friends that live in the hot, dry desert and learn why they make the desert their home.

Please join us on November 21, 9:30-10:30 or 11:00 a.m. to noon for My Desert Adventure.

If you would like to sign up your child for this or any other Little Sprouts program, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, please visit our website.

We hope to see you there!

The above photo was taken by Science Education and Research staff.

August 15, 2014

Check Out Our Upcoming Fall Programs!

by Melissa Harding


Summer is almost over and it’s time to sign up for fall camps!
Our new rack card is hot off the presses and we wanted to share our upcoming programs with you.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

Rack Card Fall 2014

The above photo was taken by Cory Doman.


June 13, 2014

Summer Camp Recap: I Eat Plants!

by Melissa Harding


Summer Camp Recap is our weekly seasonal segment featuring our summer camp programs. This is the place for camp parents to find pictures of their campers in action and see all the fun things we did all week. It’s also a great place for educators to pick up craft, story and lesson ideas for their own early childhood programs!

This is the first week of the 2014 summer camps! We kicked off our summer season with a Little Sprouts camp, I Eat Plants. Campers learned all about the plants they eat, from seed to flower! They dissected seeds, observed sprouted plants and explored leaves and flowers. Of course, they did it all while singing songs, reading stories and pretending to be plants.

Day one was all about seeds. Campers made seed drums out of repurposed containers and filled them with a variety of seeds. During the lesson, campers observed the seeds in their drum, looking for big, small, green, and red seeds. They learned that seeds come in many different shapes and sizes because every plant has a different seed. Next, they dissected soaked lima beans and learned the three parts of a seed. Campers also pretended to be growing seeds and read a seed story. After a snack of peas and seed crackers, campers went into the Conservatory to look for seeds in the Edible Garden. They found strawberries and pea pods, sampling each one. Finally, the campers plants radish seeds on paper towels to look at later in the week.

Day two was all about plant parts. Campers decorated camp T-shirts with veggie stamps to show off their love of plants. During the lesson, campers observed a variety of sprouted seeds under magnifying glasses and learned the parts of a plant. They looked at radish, carrot, pea, and lima bean seeds and identified their roots, stems, leaves and seed coats. They acted out plants sucking water through their roots and stems and read a story about the different parts of plants that we eat. After a snack of carrots and pea shoots (roots, stems and leaves!), campers went to the Edible Garden to plant some pea seeds.


Day three was all about leaves. Campers made leaf rubbings and pressed leaves into salt dough to better see the veins. During the lesson, campers waded through a pile of different leaves, looking for big, small, soft, furry and smelly ones. They smelled mint, fennel and rosemary leaves, rubbed soft lambs ear between their fingers, and loved playing with giant palm leaves. They acted out a plant using its leaves to catch the sun and read a story about a bear who loves leaves. After a snack of seaweed crackers and spinach, campers went to the Green Roof and the Fern Room to look for differently colored leaves.

Day four was all about flowers and fruits.  Campers painted pictures of fruits with scented paint and used the pigments in roses, pansies and leaves to paint a small picture. During the lesson, campers had a special visit from Miss Verna’s friend, Sunnygirl. Sunnygirl learned, along with the campers, that much of the food she eats comes from plants. Miss Verna and her puppet friend had all the campers in stitches! Campers also learned that fruits come in all shapes and sizes. They tasted peaches, kiwi, apples and bananas, as well as looked at the seeds inside. They also put together a giant plant puzzle and looked at different colored leaves, matching them to fruits of the same color, and played a fruit guessing game. After a snack of fruit and crackers, campers went to the Sunken Garden and Broderie Room to look for brightly colored flowers.

Overall, we had a really fun week!

If you would like to read and learn about plants with your own Sprout, here are some book suggestions:
Leaves by David Ezra Stein
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
What’s This? by Caroline Mockford
Plant a Kiss by Amy Krauss Rosenthal
Little Pea by Amy Krauss Rosenthal
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

To see more images from camp, check out the slideshow below!


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The above photos were taken by Phipps Science Education staff and volunteers.

April 28, 2014

Little Sprouts: We Heart Veggies

by Melissa Harding


Spring is the time for planting gardens; peas, carrots and other cool weather crops are already shooting out of the ground and getting ready to produce delicious vegetables to fill our plates. Our Little Sprouts are especially excited for spring; in the latest Little Sprouts: Single, We Heart Veggies, campers explored our edible gardens in search of seasonal produce. They learned the parts of a plant and which of their favorite veggies are really roots, shoots, leaves or fruit.

To begin, campers used vegetables of all different shapes and sizes to make paint-stamped pictures. They used asparagus, broccoli, and cucumbers to create different textures and colors. After they were finished, campers had time to play in our new sensory bins filled with repurposed caps and dirt; they used recycled containers, measuring cups and funnels to explore the items inside each bin.

During the lesson, campers learned that plants all have the same parts – roots under the ground, stems to carry water, leaves to make food and flowers and fruit to create seeds. They learned that some veggies, like celery, are stems and others, like carrots, are roots. Finally, we read Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert and talked about the different colors of veggies.

After all this learning, campers were ready to explore. They traveled to the outdoor edible garden and the gallery, where they went on a scavenger hunt for veggies of different colors, shapes and sizes.  After returning from their tour, campers each planted a pea plant to take home and grow outside. Soon, they will all be eating veggies of their very own!

If you want to learn about vegetables with your own Little Sprout, here are some great story suggestions:
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Our next Little Sprouts Singles program, Our Butterfly Friends, is scheduled for May 22 and 23, 10:30 am-noon. This camp is currently full, but if you would like to join our waiting list, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, including summer camp, please visit our website.

Check out the slide show below for more pictures!

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The above photos were taken by Phipps Science Education Staff.

April 25, 2014

Night Crawlers: An Creepy Ed-Venture

by Melissa Harding


Nocturnal creatures are mysterious; they live a secretive life, busily working while we are all fast asleep. Some creatures, like owls and moths, are cute enough to have a good reputation. Others, like cockroaches and slugs, are not. In fact, you could call them…creepy. Not to fear, Phipps to the rescue! During the latest Ed-Venture, Creepy Night Crawlers, campers discovered that these night-time critters aren’t creepy at all, just misunderstood. Campers learned why nocturnal creatures come out at light, why many of these critters are beneficial, and how some can even make their own light!

To start off, make their own sticky webs out of flour paste and yarn. As they learned about different nocturnal critters, they stuck them to their web. Campers learned that nocturnal creatures are awake at night because being nocturnal helps them to find food and hide from predators. Besides insects, there are many different mammals, birds and even reptiles that are awake at night! Campers observed that nocturnal animals have bodies that are adapted to being awake at night, such as an owl’s big eyes or a raccoon’s heightened sense of smell.  Then the creepy crawlers came out. Campers examined moths, roaches, fireflies, and other insect bodies to observe their adaptations.

A dead bug is not half as cool as a live one, so campers set off to catch their own. They laid traps in the Tropical Forest, burying small plastic containers in the dirt with a tiny amount of dog food in the bottom of each. Critters smell the bait and then fall into the trap, unable to get back out again. Campers left their traps to work for an hour, after which they found some worms, ants and beetles.  They also used a UV insect light to catch some bugs outdoors, finding some flies and mosquitos. They brought them back to the classroom for further observation, using magnifying glasses to see them better.


While waiting for their traps to work, campers built their own nocturnal creatures out of cheese cubes, grapes, carrots and other healthy foods. Their snacks were not only nutritious, but creepy! Campers also learned about cockroaches, one of our favorites. Far from being disgusting, they are really beneficial. As nature’s garbage men, they help to keep it clean. Campers found out that roaches are one of the oldest families of insects – even older than the dinosaurs!

Finally, campers learned about bioluminescence. A wide variety of creatures create light with their bodies by using a chemical called luciferin. In the case of fireflies the luciferin combines with oxygen, which comes into their bodies through holes in their abdomens as they breathe, giving off a pale yellow or green light. These cells also have special crystals in them to reflect the light back away from the insect, making it easily seen. Fireflies can switch their lights on and off by breathing in and out. Campers observed fireflies in person  to learn more and made their own groovy lava lamps to understand how the chemical reaction works. They gave it glowing reviews!

Evening Ed-Ventures are temporarily suspended until the fall, but our summer camp registration is open! For a complete list of all our summer camp offerings, please visit our website.

The above pictures were taken by Phipps Science Education and Research Staff and volunteers.


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