Nature's Book Nook

Many of these books can be found on PrairieCat; many are available for as little as 1 cent or 99 cents from booksellers on Amazon (with $3.99 for postage and handling).

For Kids:

For ages 4 to 7:

A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
Marilyn Singer

“Lyrical poems and bold illustrations capture the energy of a group of kids in one neighborhood as they amuse themselves over the course of one day.”

For K to grade 2:

Finding Wild
Megan Wagner Lloyd (author) and Abigail Helpin (illus.)

“A spirit of adventure and exploration through a series of mixed media pictures.”

Summer Journal for Kids: Vacation and Travel Journal with Prompts
By Notebooks for Kids

Birds Board Book
Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzak

New York Times calls this a perfect book. A little girl describes birds. Vibrant and lively drawings.

For lower elementary:

The Prairie that Nature Built
Marybeth Lorblecki

This series of books on prairie, forest, wetlands and animals was developed by Sarah Livesay, Professional Development Coordinator for the Environmental Education Association of Illinois. “Uses scientifically accurate fiction to bring young readers into the story.”

Kids and Families
June/July 2018
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Family Bird Watching

Oakdale Nature Preserve

Saturday, June 9th, 9 – 11:00 a.m.

This event is for you! Even if you can’t name a lot of birds yet, give it a try! The basics of birdwatching, such as how to become a better observer and selection of equipment, will be covered. Meet at the shelter in the Newell area of the Oakdale Nature Preserve.

Dress for the weather and bring binoculars if you have them. Audubon has a few binoculars for those who don’t have them.

If you have any questions about the event, call Richard Benning at 815-865-5279.

Family Bird Watching

It’s Almost That Time Again!!! Join Us for the Annual Elkhorn Creek Butterfly Festival!

Saturday, July 28th, 1 – 5:00 p.m.

Join us for a fun, informative, family-friendly afternoon as we explore the Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve for the many butterflies that are found there. From 1 - 5:00 p.m., participants may join guided butterfly tours or look on their own for those winged beauties. Tours will begin at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. “Illinois Butterflies and Moths” pocket guides will be distributed at no charge while supplies last. We’ll have ample shady spots for a rest area with chairs as well as a restroom, cold beverages, snacks and information about pollinators.

Explorers at previous Butterfly Festivals have found 31 species of butterflies and skippers, among them Buckeye, Red-spotted Purple, Painted Lady, giant Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Silver-spotted Skipper and Monarch.

The preserve is located about 3 miles southwest of Forreston in the southeast corner of West Grove and Freeport Rds. The parking lot is off of West Grove Rd. This event is free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

If weather is questionable, call Mary Blackmore at 815-938-3204 before 10 a.m. on July 28th.

Family Bird Watching

Beginning Birder

Chipping Sparrow
Spizella passerine

Chipping Sparrow Chipping sparrow is a species of American Sparrows. It is known in most parts of the world but is found commonly in North America. This is a medium-sized sparrow with a back that is dark brown in color with black color streaking and the underparts are normally light or pastel gray in color. They have a reddish brown “cap” on their head, while the face looks striped with white and black color. The neck is white. Their beak is black in winter but more pink in summer, eyes are a dusky brown, and legs and feet are pink-orange in color.

Cool Facts

  • Listen for the “chip-chip” sound they make just like their name says!
  • What do they like to eat? They like a variety of foods: seeds, fruits, insects and also a small quantity of sand and stones. You often find these birds at your own feeders.
  • The female builds the nest without the help of the male and often you can see right through it.
  • During the summer, the chipping sparrow has a distinctive white eyebrow and black eyeliner, but in the winter the color tends to fade a bit and their beak looks black instead of the summer pink beak.
  • They usually lay three to four eggs in the nest. The base color of the egg is bluish green with freckles and a small number of squiggles of dark brown, purple and black colors.

Get Linked In

Children, Nature and You Resources to help you give the children you influence the awe and wonder that only the natural world can inspire

Freeport Park District Information on all the Freeport parks

Freeport Public Library More than books on a shelf...visit the Freeport Public Library

Freeport Outdoor Experience Events located in Freeport and Stephenson County

Getting Kids Involved (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology) Includes bird information, tips, and more for kids and families

Jane Addams Recreation Trail Ride or Hike the beautiful Jane Addams Trail

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots A program of the Jane Goodall Institute offering a variety of programs and resources

NASA Climate Kids to tell the story of our changing planet through the eyes of NASA missions studying Earth and provides games, activities, and articles that make climate science accessible and engaging for children

National Audubon for Kids provides resources for classroom curriculum, DIY activities, and bird activities for children at home

National Wildlife Federation Many family-friendly articles; Ranger Rick family magazine

Resource Guide Supplement to Last Child in the Woods Designed for parents, teachers, and community leaders to help them encourage children’s enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Severson Dells Nature Center Located near Rockford, IL.

Sierra Club Outdoors The program's goal is to give every child in America an outdoor experience.

World Migratory Bird Day Learn about the importance of migratory birds and how to celebrate birds any day of the year!

Family Activity

Summer Outdoors

Many ideas for summer fun for kids and their families in Summer Activities: Nature Activities for Children, by Irmagard Kutsch, Brigitte Walden (illus.).

On a rainy day, go outside during or after a rain to listen, smell, touch and see its effects. Ideas from Listen to the Rain, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.

If it is raining, would you describe it as soft and slow, roaring and pouring, hurly-burly, topsy-turvy, ligihtning-flashing, thunder clapping, sounding pounding roaring or dripping.

  1. Can you see raindrops of different sizes?
  2. Can you find any animals moving during or after a rain? Which ones?
  3. Which plants still hold some rain drops in certain places? Where?
  4. What can you smell after a rain?

and Events

Check out our full calendar of activities, events, and educational opportunities. You're sure to find something to interest you. Please join us!

Events include:

  • Monthly educational programs and issues discussions
  • Local bird walks
  • Field trips
  • Preserve work days

For more details, see the current newsletter.


Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023
Program: Hidden Prairie: Photographing Life in One Square Meter... >

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023
Christmas Bird Count... >

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023
Beginning Birder Club- Bird Movement - REGISTRATION CLOSED - Contact for waitlist... >

Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024
Program: Birds and Beauty in Arizona... >