Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of May 25 - 29, 2020

First, an announcement: The application for Common Ground Camp is OPEN!

Camp will be OPEN this summer. I'm sure you have many questions.

Please read the camp FAQ, HERE, which should answer your questions and also includes the link to apply for our revised version of camp this summer. If you might want to enroll in camp, it is essential that you read the FAQ to understand how camp will work this summer.

All families must reapply to camp, even if you are currently registered. Based on following current health guidance, we will only have space for 60 campers total. You will complete a short application form, and then we will do a lottery to fill the 60 spaces.

Applications to the lottery are due by midnight on June 2, 2020. There is no cost or obligation to complete the short lottery form.

If you were previously registered and would like to cancel and request a refund, you can do that HERE.

*if you are applying to enroll your child in camp, please wait until after we have completed the lottery to request a refund on your current registration. If we are able to enroll your child in camp, the tuition you have already paid will transfer to the new registration.


Weekly Nature Note

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What is happening in nature this week?

Lilac flowers and eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies (Papilio glaucus) seem to blossom and emerge at the same time every year. This makes sense, as these butterflies have a preference for the nectar of pink, purple and red flowers. Male swallowtails are yellow, with four black stripes on the front of their forewings, while females may be yellow or black, with much more blue on their hind wings. Males emit perfume-like pheromones to attract females as they patrol habitats containing larval host plants (species of Rose and Magnolia families). Prior to landing and mating, male and female swallowtails flutter about each other and are hard to miss at this time of year.


Nature activity of the week

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Activity 1: Seed Scavenger Hunt!

Have you been noticing or finding any seeds on your outdoor walks and adventures? I know I’ve certainly noticed some, especially those falling from trees in my neighborhood. Seeds come in lots of shapes and sizes. See how many different types of seeds you can gather! You can also start a seed collection using an empty egg carton. Try to find different ways to organize the seeds (from small to large, by color, by texture).

See the Seed Scavenger Hunt PDF (attached) and see if you can find them all!


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Activity 2: Keep Your Own Nature Journal for Outside Adventures!

With summer right around the corner it’s a great time to start a nature journal for your outside play, work, and adventures!

Whether you are using a journal you already have or stapling together pages, creating cover art for your journal might help make it feel like a special place to express your curiosity and creativity.

If you want to think like an artist, maybe you’ll call it a “Nature Sketchbook”. You could bring out some colored pencils and try to show the shape and the colors of what you see. Or bring different nature materials like rocks, sticks, or leaves back home with you to use like a stamp or a paintbrush.

If you want to think like a scientist, maybe you’ll call it a “Nature Field Guide” and write notes or make drawings of the key features of what you find. If it something small like a seed, you might be able to press or preserve it to keep in your book!

Perhaps you’ll be a cartographer and make maps of the places you visit?If you love making up your own games, you may enjoy making a drawing or writing down the rules for them so you can share later with your friends!

Some printable Nature Journal pages to get you started are attached below!


Hike of the Week

East Rock Park in New Haven

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

Click HERE for an easy walk along the Mill River!


Weekly Videos

Site Update: Sheep Shearing 5/22/20
Chicken Check-in 5/25/20
Weed of the Week: Clover 5/26/20
Pondering the Pond: Predaceous Diving Beetle 5/28/20


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.