Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of April 20 - 24, 2020

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Weekly Nature Note

What is happening in nature this week?

We celebrated the 50th Earth Day this week!

Officially, Earth Day was on Wednesday April 22 but at Common Ground we are lucky in that every day is a little bit like Earth Day, sparking joy and wonder about the beautiful and fragile but also resilient planet we live on and share. We know we’re preaching to the choir here, but we believe (and many research studies show!) that children’s experiences of nature influence their desire to enjoy and conserve the environment as adults.

This week, our Nature Note is about West Rock Park, the spot we are lucky to share with our community as we learn and play outside!

West Rock was formed very slowly more than 200 million years ago. Hundreds of feet of lava escaped through a fault (crack) in the earth’s crust. This lava cooled underground and then formed igneous rock that became trapped under layers of sedimentary rock. The sedimentary rock isn’t as strong as igneous rock, so over time the wind and the rain eroded the sedimentary rock, revealing the volcanic rock that makes up most of West Rock today.

But wait, there’s more! Much later on, but still a long long time ago (around 20,000 years ago), what we know now as Connecticut was covered in ice! Can you picture the smooth slippery rock on the way up to the summit? Glaciers move really slowly (everything in geology happens pretty slowly...) but as the huge sheets of ice moved through the landscape they smoothed the rock and also created the huge parallel scratches that are easy to see from the base of the rock.

Maybe all this thinking about West Rock will inspire you to draw or paint it! You wouldn’t be the first. Many famous painters were inspired by West Rock, including Frederic Edwin Church in 1849 below!


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Nature activity of the week

Activity 1: Animal Yoga

What do you think a stretching frog would look like? Maybe it would bend its legs and arms and stick out its tongue as far as it could? How about a bear? Would they curl up and pretend to be hibernating? Or maybe they would go on their tiptoes and stretch as tall as they could to reach a beehive up a tree? If you need inspiration, your parents can help you look at examples online, but I’m sure you can come up with special and funny poses on your own!

Activity 2: Make the world a more beautiful place!

See the video below for storytime with Pablo, who is reading a story called Miss Rumphius. No spoilers, but in the story a young Alice grows up and never forgets her grandfather’s advice to “make the world more beautiful”.

What would you like to do to make your world a little more beautiful. Maybe you’d like to make chalk art in your driveway? Or go on a hike to find sticks to make a fort in your backyard that you could decorate? Or press flowers between pages of a big book that you can keep in your room?

Storytime Live! 4/21


Hike of the Week

Alice Newton Park in Woodbridge

Each week we will share a kid-friendly hike or other outdoor adventure.

Click HERE for an easy hike to a waterfall in Woodbridge!


Weekly Videos

Chicken Check-in: Sit Spot 4/20/20
Weed of the Week: Mugwort 4/22/20
Pondering the Pond: Frog 4/23/20
Site Update: Stage 4/17/20


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 program closure and social distancing, we are seeking to support families and children in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your family engage in nature based learning in your own backyard.

This series is adapted from content created by the Common Ground NatureYear Teachers, who are sharing distance learning with their students this spring.