Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of September 14, 2020


Weekly Nature Note

What's happening in nature this week?

Eastern Gray Squirrels are getting ready for winter. You’ll see these furry critters scurrying around, digging holes and burying nuts to eat during the long, cold winter months. They enjoy acorns, but especially love calorie-rich hickory nuts.

Eastern Gray Squirrels are “scatter-hoarders,” which means they bury each nut separately, not all in one place. When they’re hungry, they use their sense of smell to find the food they've buried. Of course, they don’t end up finding every nut they buried, so these squirrels play an important role in seed dispersal. Some of the forgotten nuts will sprout into trees in the spring!

For more information about Eastern Gray Squirrels, check out naturalist Mary Holland and National Geographic Kids.


Nature activity of the week

Activity 1: Bug Hunt

Bugs are all around us. Which ones can you find? All you really need for this activity are your eyes and ears, but if you can, grab a paper and pencil, a magnifying glass, and a bug book or insect-ID app. Check out the air for butterflies and bees, look under logs for pillbugs and ants, investigate leaves for caterpillars and ladybugs, and keep your eyes open for the glint of reflected sunlight that means you’ve found a spiderweb.

For more bug hunt ideas, visit Childhood By Nature and Kids Gardening.


Activity 2: Acorns

Acorns have great potential as educational and play materials. Have your child/student pretend to be a squirrel and collect some acorns and other nuts that you find. There are many options for what to do next: Count them! Sort them! Share them! Play hide and seek with them! Paint them! Write about them! Cook with them! Look at them with a magnifying glass! Draw them! Plant them and see if they grow!


Quick Read

With the unusual start to the school year, and with many changes to what we have been used to, I found this article on Raising Resilient Kids with Nature reassuring. But I bet you already knew that exposure to nature reduces stress and promotes resilience, in both kids and adults. So get outside!


Hike of the Week

photo credit: R Holcombe

Hidden Valley Preserve

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

This week, we explore the treasures of an historic quartz mine in Hidden Valley Preserve in Washington Depot, CT. Read more here.


Tickets are still available for our virtual annual fundraiser!

Join us for Feast from the Fields, an annual event that supports our work at Common Ground.

We can't gather on campus, but we have an amazing line-up of virtual options! Tickets are available for youth, adults, and groups. Your ticket includes ingredients for a delicious meal!

Details and ticket purchasing options are on the event website HERE.

Your ticket purchase supports our work and we'd love to have you join us for a virtual Feast!


Weekly Video

chicken pine tree
This week, Cjet predicts the weather and investigates the bark of a pine tree.


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.