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Tips for sparking kids' interest in nature

Some suggestions from `Naturescene' host Rudy Mancke: Buy your children an 8-power magnifying glass that can be worn on a string around the neck. Encourage them to use it on walks and hikes. ``Kids are generally better at observing than adults are,'' Mancke comments. Keep a ``scavenger list'' of natural things they've collected. Suggest things to find. Offer them a challenge: ``Bet you can't find this.'' Find a caterpillar and put it in a zip-lock bag. Then watch it, over time, form a chrysalis and emerge as a moth or butterfly. There's plenty of air in the bag for the creature, Mancke explains. Make an aquarium of ``native animals.'' All you need is a small tank, or even a large jar, some elodea (a water plant that can be purchased at a pet store), some sand from a pond or brook, and some water from the same source. Captured beetles, snails, nymphs, water bugs, and other small creatures can be added. Get a copy of the Golden Nature Guide to Pond Life, edited by Herbert Zim, or other such basic reference work. Then, says Mancke, ``sit down and let your kids realize how you can solve problems with books -- that books are not just for those term papers at school.''

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