Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of December 14, 2020

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Needle Ice

It’s getting chilly! Last week we finally saw some consistent freezing temperatures, so we’ve been discovering all kinds of amazing ice formations. Because the recent cold was preceded by heavy rains, conditions have been perfect for the formation of needle ice.

Needle ice forms when the temperature of the ground is above freezing, but the temperature of the air is below freezing. The above-freezing ground means that any water in the ground is liquid; but when the water on the surface touches the freezing air, ice crystals begin to form. Through capillary action (the same phenomenon that makes paint flow up the bristles of a paintbrush in opposition to gravity) the groundwater creeps up the crystals of ice, and then freezes, causing the ice to grow into pillars. These tiny pillars really do look like little needles of ice poking up from the ground!


Nature activity of the week

Nature Shape Hunt

The natural world is full of different kinds of shapes - let’s look for them! Use your next hike or neighborhood walk as an opportunity to hunt for shapes in nature. Can you find a circle, a square, a rectangle, a triangle? What about a heart or a star? What else can you find? If you’re feeling fancy, you could draw or photograph each item and create a “nature shapes” display!


Hike of the Week

Chatfield Hollow State Park

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

Click here to visit Chatfield Hollow State Park


Weekly Videos

poultry yard field trip


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Gift Idea: Nature Dates

Kelly Sipan (@socalnaturekids) shares a great idea to gift one-on-one Nature Dates to your kids! For more, check out her Gift Guide for Nature Kids and Teens

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Gift Idea: For the coffee (and tea) lover in your life

Join the Cafe Rebelde/Common Ground Coffee Club! Pickups are monthly at Common Ground. 5% of your purchase of this Coffee with a purpose will go to Common Ground! Join today and spread the word! Visit
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Youth Garden Grant deadline this Friday!

Planning or expanding your school garden?

The Youth Garden Grant application deadline is Friday, December 18!


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.