Local Nature Connections

Local Nature Connections

Nature Walk - Appreciation for the Trees

We are starting into the spring season and it is a time of many changes in nature. Go for a walk and see how many buds you can see on the different trees. See if you are able to identify any of the trees or plants, you can bring a plant id book with you or use a plant id app on your phone. Notice the different types of bark on the trees, why might this be? How many different kinds of bark can you find? How many different kinds of pinecones can you find? Going for a walk in the early spring is a great opportunity to discuss the diversity of plants in the area and the seasonal changes that take place this time of year. 

Nature Scavenger Hunt in Jackson Park

Draw a star beside each one you can find and if you would like to you can even take a picture of it! 

  • Black squirrel 
  • Cedar trees
  • Chickadee 
  • Woodpecker 
  • Maple trees
  • Ash trees
  • A rock the size of a dime 
  • A rock the size of your head
  • Robin
  • Crow 
  • Signs a beaver has been through the area (ex. chewed trees)
  • Red squirrel 
  • Rabbit tracks

What other plants and animals can you find? 

Creating a Sound Map

This activity is from the Big Book of Nature Activities by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg (2016) pg. 215

Choose a site and time of day with a variety of natural sounds. Near a marsh can be a great place to go. Give each child an index card with an X in the center, tell them that the card is a map and the X is where they’ll be sitting. Each time they hear a sound, they should mark its location (direction and distance in relation to where they are sitting) and represent it with a symbol. They can cup their hands in front of and behind their ears to hear sounds from all directions. Listen for 5-10 minutes, depending on the variety of sounds and the age of participants. Encourage kids to share their maps with a partner, identifying both natural and human related sounds.
Questions to ask:

  • How many different sounds did you hear?
  • Which sounds did you particularly like? 
  • What sounds were new to you? 
  • Who/what may have made them?
  • Which were natural and which were caused by humans?

Can you make a Robin’s Nest?

This activity is from the Big Book of Nature Activities by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg (2016) pg. 223

You’ll Learn: That making a nest is not easy! 

You’ll Need: A bucket of warm soapy water, nice gooey mud (mix soil and water), lots of dried plant fibers (ex. dried grass), and of course patience!

Background: A bird egg is a beautiful thing. Within this fragile, round container is the promise of new, feathered life. Bird eggs come in a surprising variety of shapes, sizes and colours. However no matter what they look like, there is one indisputable fact: eggs roll! And a rolling egg is not a safe egg. Keeping their eggs both warm and safe from danger is the challenge every mother bird faces. That is why she makes a nest. Sometimes a bird nest is an elaborate affair like the woven, hanging nest of an oriole, and sometimes it is as simple as a hollow scrape in the ground like that of a killdeer. At first blush, making a bird’s nest doesn’t seem that remarkable. But if you think about it, birds have a handicap. They have no hands! In the case of robins, the nest is built by the female over the course of about six days. She often locates it on a ledge or a forked tree branch and constructs it mostly from dead grass, twigs and mud. A robin nest can contain 350 individual pieces of vegetation! The bird drops grass on top of a layer of mud and molds it into shape by sitting, squirming, pushing with the wrist of her wings and stamping with her feet. Then she turns several degrees and goes through the same process again. By the time she is finished, she may have made several complete rotations. 


  • Begin by making a mud and plant fiber pancake. Mix fibers together with globs of mud. Mix, knead, and mix again. You should have a pancake about 6 in. (18 cm) across and ½ in. (1 cm) thick.
  • Make four long fiber and mud cigars, about 4 in. (10 cm) long and ¾ in. (2 cm) thick. Roll, mix, and roll again. 
  • Using mud, stick these mud cigars to the perimeter of the pancake. Knead them all together using plenty of mud.
  • Sculpt the sides. Add more mud as required. 
  • Line with soft grasses and tufts of downy seeds. Let dry.
  • Place your nest on something sturdy and admire your creation. You never know- maybe a robin will adopt it as its very own! 

Add On: Anishinaabemowin colouring book all about Birds