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 2 to 5:

Making a Friend
Alison McGhee

The case of the disappearing snowman.

For ages 6 to 9:

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solistice
Wendy Pfeffer

This book explains what the solstice is and how it has been observed in various culture. There are explanatory diagrams, projects teachers and parents can do with kids, and two cooking activities, one for a human party and one for an avian one.

For preschoolers:

Bear Snores On
Karma Wilson

Many animals in his den don’t wake up Bear.

For ages 8 and up:

The Secret Life of a Snowflake
Kenneth Libbrecht

For Adults:

The Singing Wilderness
Sigurd Olson

Calling of loons, northern lights, simple joys, and timelessness and perspective that offers a way of looking at the out-of-doors with a deep sense of its revealing values. A delightful winter read.

Kids and Families
December 2018/January 2019
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Tracking Program

Oakdale Nature Preserve

Jan. 12, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Tracking Program at Oakdale Nature Preserve

Learn about the age-old art of tracking. People’s lives depended on knowing about the quarry they hunted in cultures of the past. Things we will uncover will include footprints, gait, scat, chewings and thinking like an animal.

The program will start in the Mogle Center before we venture outside. Dress for the weather, including appropriate footwear for walking in snow.

For questions about this program, call Richard Benning at 815-865-5279.

An Afternoon at the Burpee Museum of Natural History

Rockford, IL

Sunday, Jan. 27, 12:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Tracking Program at Oakdale Nature Preserve

We have the honor of having John Walt for an afternoon at the Burpee Museum. John was involved with the making of one of Burpee’s newer exhibits: Survival of the Smallest: "Small but mighty, learn how insects are adapted for success in the natural world. From smells to sounds to amazing movements…each insect will tell you a story!’

John has also promised to give us a look behind the scenes at the museum. While visiting Burpee, we’ll have time to view the many other exhibits from dinosaurs, local geology, The First People, wildlife of the Rock River Valley, and a brand new Children’s Learning Laboratory.

Carpool from the old Staples Lot, Freeport, at 12:30 p.m. or meet us at Burpee Museum shortly after 1:00 p.m.

Cost: Adult $10, Children 4-12 $9. Children under 4 and Burpee Members – free.

Please call Laura at 815-947-2720 or email to confirm your attendance.

Beginning Birder

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta canadensis

Red-breasted Nuthatch An intense bundle of energy at your feeder, these birds are tiny, active birds! They are long-billed, short-tailed songbirds. Their excitable yank-yank calls sound like tiny tin horns being honked in the treetops.

Cool Facts

  • The Red-breasted Nuthatch collects resin globules from coniferous trees and plasters them around the entrance of its nest hole.
  • They migrate soutward earlier than many species. They may begin in early July and reach their southernmost point by September or October.
  • They sometimes steal nest-lining material from the nests of other birds.
  • If you see a flock of chickadees, nuthatches are often in the same flock; listen for their nasal, yammering call.
  • Look along trunks and branches of a tree for a bird wandering up, down, and sideways over the bark and keep your eyes peeled for the Red-breasted Nuthatch’s bold black-and-white face pattern and rosy breast.

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

Forest Exploration

– Ideas from Project Learning Tree of the American Forest Foundation.

Go on a winter evergreen walk. Stop, look, listen—the crunch of snow, the crackling of twigs, the wind. Notice the dark green of the evergreens against the sky. If there is snow and sun, point out the contrast of blue sky, dark green, and the snow.

Look on the ground for pine cones and high in the trees.

Look up through the branches of evergreens, talk about the patterns, and the ways evergreens provide shelter from wind, rain, and snow.

Look up at the deciduous trees; find the nests and holes now visible with the leaves gone.

Look for evidence of how animals survive in winter. How could evergreens help them? Look for animal tracks, scat, and other signs of animals. Ask: If you were an animal in winter, where would you stay?

Back inside, enjoy some hot chocolate or tea, pointing out that these treats from trees.

Then make a winter treat for the birds: Mix one part peanut butter or suet with five parts corn meal and pack the mixture into the crevices of a large pine cone. Hang outside and watch the birds enjoy their treat.


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.


Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
September 29 Birdseed Sale Order Deadline!... >

Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
Full Moon Campfire at Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve... >

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023
Program: Update from Illinois Evironmental Council, 2023 Annual Report... >

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023
Field Trip: Maquoketa Caves State Park... >