Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of November 30, 2020

Common Ground High School Virtual Open House this Thursday, Dec 3!

Thinking about high school options for your child?

Come find out about Common Ground: a unique, college-preparatory high school with an environmental justice mission.

  • A Public Charter High School open to students from New Haven & all Connecticut towns

  • More than a school: An inclusive community of 225 students, dedicated to the environment and social justice

  • A challenging, interdisciplinary core curriculum that gets students ready for college and careers, leadership and life

  • Students find their paths through after-school programs, paid green jobs, dual enrollment, internships & unique courses

  • Located on 20-acre campus at the base of West Rock -- a farm, in a forest, in a city

To schedule a visit (virtual or in-person) contact Sharyn Lopez:

To receive information on visiting virtually, please submit an application on our website:


Weekly Nature Note

Chipmunk Burrows

We’ve been lucky enough to have a very curious (and hungry) chipmunk join some of our meeting circles lately. If we all sit very still, the chipmunk has even climbed over some of our boots in their search for food! This has us wondering what chipmunks do in the winter. We often see them scurry back into their holes, but what’s going on down there?

Chipmunks make extensive burrows where they spend the winter alone. While they can dig the tunnels themselves, they generally renovate old root channels or the abandoned burrows of other mammals. A burrow may have multiple entrance tunnels, but all but one will be plugged with leaves. Inside their burrows, there are a number of chambers where the chipmunks store the food they will need to survive the winter. Chipmunks don’t truly hibernate; instead, they enter a state of torpor in a chamber that contains a nest of leaves. They wake every few weeks to eat some of their cached food, sometimes even emerging aboveground when temperatures are particularly warm.

More here from one of our favorite New England naturalists, Mary Holland.


Nature activity of the week

I find kids are often more excited to go on a hike when they have a scavenger hunt to focus on.

These Urban Naturalist Activity Sheets from Childhood by Nature can help guide your next outdoor exploration! And despite their name, they'd be good for urban, suburban, and rural locations.


Hike of the Week

CT Audubon Coastal Center

Each week we share a kid-friendly hike or other outdoor adventure. This week, we're off to the beach!

Click here to visit the CT Audubon Coastal Center!


Weekly Videos

Spore Print Part 1
Spore Print Part 2



Although many schools have moved to fully remote this week, check out the ways some schools have been moving their classes outdoors!

These 4 schools created outdoor classrooms

Schools seeking alternative to remote learning


About this series

Our programs for children at Common Ground are place based, hands on, and focus on community, friendship, and nature-based learning and play.

In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.

Some of the funding we rely on to keep Nature Notes free comes from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund, established by the South Central CT Regional Water Authority.