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 K to grade 3:

Eliza and the Dragonfly
Susie Rinehart

Eliza has an adventure watching the dragonfly change from a mucky nymph to a beautiful, winged creature. Whimsical, rich illustrations.

For ages 6 to 9:

Butterfly Count
Collard Sneed

Emily and her mother look to find a very special butterfly at the 4th of July Butterfly Count, held on the grounds of Emily’s great-great-grandparents' farm in a prairie area.

In the Tall, Tall Grass
Denise Fleming

Fleming, writer and illustrator of over 20 children’s books, winner of Caldecott award. A prairie story. Published in 1995, this book is a classic. It is very expensive in hardcover, but can be purchased cheaply from resellers.

The Prairie That Nature Built
Mary Beth Losbiec

Information and activities, presented in rhyme and song.

Kids and Families
August/September 2018
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Creek Walk at Oakdale Nature Preserve

Leader: Richard Benning

Saturday, August 11th, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Join Richard as you explore Crane’s Gove Creek at the Oakdale Nature Preserve. Midwestern streams have an interesting natural history from several perspectives, including biology and geology. This exploration will take place at a couple of locations along the stream and you will be wading in water where the opportunity is good.

It is strongly suggested that you wear old shoes that offer toe protection, because there are plenty of rocks and sticks on the bottom of the creek. August and September are lazy months with a slow-down in Audubon activities for kids, so take advantage of this one, led by an experienced “big kid!”

Meet at the main parking area of Oakdale. If you have any questions about the event, call Richard Benning at 815-865-5279.

Creek Walk at Oakdale Nature Preserve

NIAS Offers Scholarships

If you would like to apply for a scholarship for educational opportunities such as courses, programs, and workshops related to our mission, you can find an application form at the monthly meetings near the display section or email

Beginning Birder

Brown Thrasher
Toxostoma rufum

Brown Thrasher This bird moves its long black bill back and forth through a pile of leaves like a broom sweeping the floor in a kind of “thrashing” motion. Leaves scatter in the air as the bird pokes into the soil and finds a small beetle to eat or maybe some other small insect. Male and female brown thrashers look alike. Their heads, bodies and tails are a rich, brownish, rust color. Their bellies are white with black, teardrop-shaped markings. These birds have long legs, bright yellow eyes and bills that are long and straight.

Cool Facts*

  • Brown thrashers are aggressive birds, fiercely protective of their nests and territories. But they are also SUPERSTAR singers! The male brown thrasher can sing more songs than any other North American bird! They have a playlist of “bird itunes” of over 1,100 songs!
  • They eat small insects, fruit and nuts. They find their food by swinging or “thrashing” their bills back and forth to sweep through leaves and probe the dirt.
  • Brown thrashers might even come to your backyard if you offer food. They may pick up fallen seed off the ground beneath your feeder. You can attract them by planting shrubs that produce berries.

* Sources include and

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 Arts and Crafts

Adapted from

Go Bug Hunting!

Observe in your own backyard – or anywhere. Use a magnifying glass to observe closely all the interesting bugs. What are their colors? How do they protect themselves? Where do they live?

Create Rock Art

Collect rocks and paint them – a time-honored and very popular kid activity.

Make Pressed Flower Placemats

  1. Find the flowers and plants you want to use – but not from the neighbors’ yards or nature preserves!
  2. Remove the flower blossoms and leaves from their stems and lay them on construction paper. You may want to practice arranging the flowers.
  3. For each placemat you want to make, cut two pieces of contact paper, approximately 9x12".
  4. Peel the backing off one piece of contact and lay it sticky side up on the table.
  5. Arrange the flowers and leaves so they lie flat on the contact paper. If you’d like to add more decoration, press ribbon to the edges of the border.
  6. Peel the backing off the second piece of contact paper. Carefully cover your placemat (sticky side down) with the contact paper. Do this step slowly and carefully to avoid getting wrinkles in the placemat. (Might be a good idea to have an adult help with this step.)
  7. Flatten your placemat once more to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles, and use scissors to trim the uneven edges.

Midsummer Memento Wreath


  • Heavy cardboard
  • Large- and medium-sized bowls to trace wreath
  • Paint brush
  • Glue
  • Summer treasures (flowers, leaves, small pebbles, seashells...)
  • Yarn or string
  • Scissors
  • Markers, crayons and other decorative items (optional)


  1. Trace the circle for your wreath by drawing around the large pot or bowl on the cardboard.
  2. Cut out the circle. Then, using the smaller pot or bowl, trace another circle inside the one you just made.
  3. Carefully cut around the smaller circle you just drew. Now you have the pattern for your wreath.
  4. If you’d like, color or paint the wreath before you add your summer mementos.
  5. Using the scissors, poke a small hole in the top of the wreath.
  6. Thread several inches of the string or yarn through the hole, tie the ends in a knot, and slide the strings so that the knot is hidden under the wreath. This is the hanger.
  7. Dust a layer of sand over the glue so that the entire wreath is covered.
  8. Let the wreath dry for about 10 minutes and then gently shake off any sand that hasn’t stuck to the glue.
  9. Decide where you want to place your summer mementos and glue each of them to the wreath.
  10. Let the wreath dry and hang it up to remember your summer fun.

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.


Wednesday, Mar. 29, 2023
40th Annual NIAS Banquet: Feathers to Fur... >

Saturday, Apr. 1, 2023
4-H Wee Naturalists- April Showers... >

Saturday, May. 6, 2023
4-H Wee Naturalists- Insects... >