I was so excited when I was out shopping today {yes, I am on February vacation... don't hate me!} and I found these beauties.  Bunch of Branch pencils are made from (you guessed it) real tree branches.  They are absolutely gorgeous, and functional too.

 The best part?  The price tag!  $4.99 for 10 pencils.  I have seen these online for so much more than that.  I got them at HomeGoods.

 I just love how they bring nature right into the classroom, in such a functional way.  I can't wait to bring them to school!

I know right where I will put these little pretties... in my science center!  Do you have a science center?  I am in love with mine.  It is teeny tiny, but it does the trick.  I think that having one set place for science and nature shows a level of respect for nature and sparks curiosity in my littles.  The kids love bringing in things to add to our center, and I love how excited they get when there is something new there.

Here is the science center in action.  It is quite crowded here because the girls have pulled items off of the nearby science shelf to explore.  Here they are making observational drawings of shells and a slice of tree trunk (in one girl's hand) to add to our class science notebook (just a binder with sleeves inside).  I didn't ask them to do this, they just grabbed paper and colored pencils and started drawing and WRITING.  Be still my heart!  

And here it is a bit less crowded.  They are practicing how to use magnifying glasses to observe details (you mean you can't just squish it right on top of your eyeball and walk around the room?)

I love to add new things from time to time, and to keep it looking clean and inviting.  For example, I put out an amaryllis bulb with a sign that said "What is it?"  The kids speculated for a day or two, and wrote down their guesses on a class recording sheet.  My favorites?  "Cousin of an onion" and "Monster claw."  Then we planted it and watched what happened (you can see it in the pot on the table).

 Then of course we planted the bulb, watered it and are watching it grow.

I forgot to take a picture of how my sweet little science center looks when nobody is using it.  The little stools you can see in some of the pictures are actually plant stands from Ikea.  I love them because they are a natural material, are sturdy enough for even grown-ups to sit on them, and fold right up so I can put them away if I want to.  This is my second year using these little puppies and they are still going strong.

What are your favorite fast and easy ways to incorporate science and nature into your classroom?

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