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 8:

Gail Gibbons

Depicts numerous species of owls and discusses their biological similarities as well as differences.

Owl Babies
Martin Waddell
Patrick Benson, illus.

A tender tale in which the owlets wait with great anxiety for their mom to return – and at last she does.

For ages 9 to 12:

Exploring the World of Owls
Tracy Reed

How do owls capture prey and defend themselves? How are their wings designed for silent, gliding flights?

For Adults:

Nature and Other Essays
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Paperback: $5.60. Kindle: $0.60.

Kids and Families
October/November 2018
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Autumn Happenings Walk

Oakdale Nature Preserve

Saturday, October 13th, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Here is a chance to bring your kids to a beautiful location at a colorful time of year. There will be activities for families or individuals to participate in at certain locations during the walk. Meet at the main parking lot at Oakdale and dress for the weather.

If you have questions or if weather looks uncertain, call Richard Benning at 815-865-5279.

Autumn Happenings Walk at Oakdale Nature Preserve

Beginning Birder

Sandhill Crane
Grus canadensis

Sandhill Crane What bird cleans itself with mud, dances and bugles? The Sandhill Crane! If you were standing outside in certain areas in North America, you might hear this sound: “Kar-r-r-o-o-o! This very loud, rattling sound would be coming from this large bird called a Sandhill Crane. These are among the oldest living birds on our planet. Believe it or not, they have been around for about 2.5 million years!

Cool Facts

  • Most Sandhill Cranes are just under four feet tall: that might be just about as tall as you are! If they spread out their wings and you measured it, it would be six or seven feet wide! These are BIG birds!
  • Look for them in fresh water wetlands or grassy meadows. They have long, thin, black legs and a very long neck. They have gray feathers and have reddish skin on the top of their heads.
  • These birds are migrating right now so if you drive out in the county near a wetland or marshy area, you might just get to see one. They make a sound called “bugling,” often so loud they can be heard miles away.
  • During migration, this bird can travel 300 miles in one day but if they have a good tail wind, they can travel 500 miles in a day!
  • Maybe you can make a trip to Nygren Wetlands near Rockton and spend some time looking for these beautiful birds. You will be treated to views of many birds there, so take your bird book and some binoculars!

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

Leaf Fun

There are many leaves strewn on the ground: pick one up and ask your children to find another leaf that is the same color the same shape. This seems simple, but many kids group all leaves together and may have never noticed the different shapes.

Put your hand on a tree and ask your kids to find a similar tree. Ask your kids to notice the texture of the bark or the shape of the leaves. It isn’t necessary that they identify the tree as oak or maple, just encourage them to notice that all bark is not the same and not all leaves aren’t the same shape.

Then, depending on the ages of the kids, you may want to do some simple tree identification. But the most important thing with this is just to notice differences.

Have your kids collect some leaves and have each one choose a favorite. Have the child observe that leaf closely. Take that leaf and choose another 3 or 4 leaves for this game. Have the child stand in front of you with hands behind their back. Set a leaf in the child’s hand and have them examine the leaf with their fingers.

Is this their favorite leaf? Try one leaf after another until the child identifies the favorite leaf by touch alone. Can they tell you what the identifying feature was? If there are several kids, they can pair up to play the game.

Have your kids collect as many leaves as they can in 15 seconds. Clear a spot on the ground and have the kids sort the leaves into whatever groupings they would like – can group by size, shape, color, insect damage or whatever works in that setting.


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... >