It’s time to go fishing!

Here fishy-fishy! Begin by asking children if they have ever gone fishing? Where did they go and what did they do? What do people use to catch fish?  Where do fish live? Have they ever eaten fish? Create a mock fishing lake for children to go fishing in the classroom. Create paper or cardboard fish. … Read more…

Spider Web Wonders

Spiders are a very common form of wildlife. They are found in a wide variety of habitats as well as inside most buildings, even our homes. In fact, if you did a quick search of where you are sitting right now chances are you could probably find a spider somewhere close by. There are more … Read more…

Wildlife Water Safari

Take your children on a wildlife water safari this month! By definition, animals that are not tame or domesticated are considered wildlife. A habitat is the place or “neighborhood” where an animal lives.  A suitable neighborhood must have food, water, shelter, and space in order for an animal to survive there. On your wildlife water … Read more…

The Deep Blue Sea

A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival, but you don’t have to live near a teaming ocean to demonstrate how important all water is for every living thing. Help your children get their feet wet on a local level with a pond study. When children use a hand lens or magnifying glass to … Read more…

Hiding in Plain Sight

Children play a game of hide and seek to learn about important adaptations in many wild animals. Use animal toys and hide two animals, one where it blends in and one where it stands out. Have children look for them. Which is easier to find? Why? Introduce the word camouflage and have the children come … Read more…

First Impressions

How do you feel about bats? Do you find them scary or weird? What about spiders? Do they give you the “creepy crawlies?” People often have misconceptions about wildlife based on inaccurate stereotypes. While bats, spiders, and other “scary” wildlife may not be cute and cuddly, they are important contributors to healthy ecosystems. Scary doesn’t … Read more…

Let’s plan a Field Study!

A field study plot is an area set aside for making observations over time. By observing a particular plot of ground, scientists can learn about how the plants in the plot grow, what animals use those plants, and other valuable information about the area. In a small field study plot the most common animals you … Read more…

Let’s learn about water

Every molecule of water that was present when the Earth’s oceans were formed millions of years ago is still present today. That means the water you drink is the same water the dinosaurs drank!  All living things need water: plants, animals and people. Water is important to us for many purposes such as drinking, bathing, … Read more…

Wildlife is Everywhere!

Wildlife is everywhere – on land, in soil, in water, and in the air. Wildlife scientists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools. Being … Read more…

Seeds!

Fall is the perfect time of year to explore the wonder of plant seeds! That means it’s time to go on a “seed walk!” Take children on a walk around the schoolyard or your local park to collect seeds from grasses, plants, and trees. Ideas to help you collect seeds include putting a tube sock … Read more…

Who lives in a tree?

Fall is a perfect time to explore where the squirrels and birds live within the tree branches.  Ask the children to describe their homes. What materials make up your house? What rooms do you have in your house? What do you do in your house? Where do you eat and sleep? Do you have a … Read more…

Back to school with nature

It is that time of year again – back to school time! As children are picking out new backpacks and sneakers, teachers are preparing themselves and their classrooms for another year filled with growing and learning. This year, as you are preparing your classroom for the new school year, try to incorporate nature into the … Read more…

Let’s learn about grasshoppers

In a Grasshopper’s World For this activity you will explore the fascinating world of grasshoppers with young children! Grasshoppers are insects. They have six legs, two of which are long and muscular and used for hopping. Grasshoppers have three main body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have two antennae. Begin by asking children if … Read more…

Lunch for a coyote

The Growing Up WILD activity “Lunch for a Bear” has been adapted to Iowa’s largest resident omnivore, the coyote. Omnivores are the most flexible eaters of the animal kingdom. They eat both plants and animals, and many times what they eat depends on where they live and what is available at certain times of the … Read more…

Let’s go camping!

On June 22, 2019 all across the country families will be camping out in their backyards as part of the Great American Campout! Explore the wonderful world of camping with young children either as a family or in your classroom. Check out the resources on this page for tips and tricks. For families: Join the … Read more…

Wildlife as Symbols

The animal symbol is one of the most prevalent images in myths, traditions, and religious cultures worldwide. Many cultures through the ages have regarded specific animals as representing power, the supernatural, and a way to express ideas and feelings. Most countries also have wildlife incorporated as their national symbol. For example, the bald eagle is … Read more…

Wildlife is Everywhere!

Wildlife is everywhere – on land, in soil, in water, and in the air. Wildlife scientists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools. Help … Read more…

Owl Pellets

An owl pellet is a dense mass of indigestible food that an owl coughs up after digesting a meal. Owls are predators and eat small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Owl pellets may contain bones, fur, and feathers. They offer a wonderful look at what owls in general eat as well as an intimate look at … Read more…

Let’s Go Camping

On June 24, 2017 all across the country families will be camping out in their backyards as part of the Great American Backyard Campout! Explore the wonderful world of camping with young children either as a family or in your classroom. For families: Join the Great American Backyard Campout on June 24th and pitch a … Read more…

Field Study Fun

A field study plot is an area set aside for making observations over time. By observing a particular plot of ground, scientists can learn about how the plants in the plot grow, what animals use those plants, and other valuable information about the area. In a small field study plot the most common animals you … Read more…

Bird Beak Buffet

All birds have beaks that they use for grasping and eating food. Bird beaks come in all shapes and sizes which enable them to eat certain kinds of foods. Seed and nut eaters usually have short, thick beaks for cracking open seeds. Nectar feeders have long slender beaks for reaching into flowers. Other birds have … Read more…

First Day Hikes

Kick off the new year with a winter hike in an Iowa State Park! The Iowa DNR State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes, led by staff and volunteers, in many state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First … Read more…

#OptOutside

The Holiday seasons are upon once again. The traditions of home and work will fill our coming days and weeks. In all this, we hope that you start a new tradition with your family, co-workers, and families of the children in your care… taking the day after Thanksgiving, maybe even most of the weekend after … Read more…

Routine

Most people thrive on routine, children for sure. Most of us like the predictability of how our work days should go or even how our mornings are planned. I know, not all people can handle routine 24-7. Routine is good, but routine is difficult to build and takes time and thought. Routine is sometimes purposeful … Read more…

A shifting baseline

How many times have you read about the changing picture of early childhood in this country (and maybe even around the globe)? I talk about it in trainings with early care and education providers. We talk about how society has changed in the last generation plus, how the rate of childhood obesity is escalating, the … Read more…

Aren’t you cute!

I’m not even sure where to begin. I am so stuck… how do I begin to talk about individuals overstepping their boundaries when exploring nature?  How do we – the collective we of non-formal and environmental and conservation educators – educate both the adults of today AND their children about NOT putting baby bison in … Read more…

Are you a rock hound?

Have you ever collected rocks? Maybe I should ask, do you still collect rocks? My husband and I do. Yes, I just admitted that. We have very large rocks from when the stone steps at my mother-in-law’s house were replaced. I have the ‘worry stone’ that my father kept in his pocket. We will collect … Read more…

Playground or playspace?

I had never given the words ‘playground’ or ‘playspace’ much consideration for their differences until I was prepping for an outdoor training for early care and education providers about creative free-play in the outdoors, no matter the season. I’ve read that ‘play is the work of childhood.’ Through play, children learn about themselves and the … Read more…

Planting seeds – Do we ever see the sprout?

Inspiration, passion, focus – what drives you? How do you share that passion and focus with others? How do you plant seeds in those around you, particularly children? How do you encourage and share without totally “turning them off” to what you love? The following is an excerpt of an essay written by Central College … Read more…

First Day Hike!

This is a share from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Explorations for Early Learners Blog… I challenge each of us (that includes yours truly, too) to set a realistic, albeit a bit challenging, goal of getting outside every set amount of time in 2016… choose whether it is just you will spend time … Read more…

Ripples

I don’t much like to watch the news on television. Reading the newspaper is only slightly better as it’s easier to pick and choose. Am I sticking my head in the sand, refusing to deal with the harsh reality of what is the year 2015? No… I just get tired of hearing the reality of … Read more…

Instill a sense of giving back

The fourth Saturday in October is National Make A Difference Day. This USA TODAY initiative is organized in collaboration with the Points of Light Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. 2015 marks the 24th year of volunteers uniting to improve the lives of others – of neighbors helping neighbors. I grew up with parents who volunteered … Read more…

Build Your Scaffold

I love reading the articles and research that are posted by the Children & Nature Network. Most of the time, these posts lead me on a wandering retracing of my experiences, thoughts, and connections. The 27 August 2015 post was a news story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about a Twin Cities based non-profit that … Read more…

Musings from Murgatroyd

By Linette Bernard Murgatroyd is a family surname from England and has absolutely nothing to do with early childhood. The saying ‘heavens to Murgatroyd’ was one I remember my father saying, as well as ‘musings from Murgatroyd’ often were at the top of handwritten letters to me during and after college. August 18 would have … Read more…