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:


Mama Dug a Little Den
by Jennifer Ward

This book explores many different animals, including polar bears, beavers, squirrels, frogs, and platypuses and explains how they build dens or shelters for protection. While this book provides rhymes and drawings suitable for engaging the young budding reader, there are also factual tidbits about each animal to allow older toddlers to "dig" a little deeper about these creatures.


Over and Under the Snow
by Kate Messner

This adorable and well-illustrated picture book takes the reader on an adventure to learn about the secret world of creatures who live under the snow. While a girl and her father enjoy the winter snowscape, they start to become aware that they are not alone in the snow. This is a good reminder for children and adults to pause and take notice of the natural world around them and become a part of it as well.


The Dirt Girl
by Jodi Dee

This picture book celebrates self-love and confidence. Being a young adult can be hard and this book reminds adolescents that it is wonderful to be unique and encourages individuals to be brave to share their gifts and interests with others. The book follows Zafera, who always has flowers in her hair and dirt on her clothes. Eventually the reader learns about Zafera's home, a dwelling that is part of the earth, and we find that is not ordinary, but extraordinary like her.

For Adults:

Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children with the Natural World
by Nancy Striniste

This book provides ideas and tools for how to transform your backyard spaces to encourage children to explore the natural world. These playspace ideas foster creativity, learning, and enjoyment with natural elements rather than video screens and electronics. Children crave unrestricted play and these opportunities can help stimulate imagination, problem solving skills, and simple fun. Hopefully, it can also increase appreciation for nature and allow them to be adults who continue to be stewards of the planet earth.

Kids and Families
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

February and March events throughout Freeport!

Building a Shelter
Saturday, February 19, 2022
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Rd., Freeport, IL
Coordinator: Adam Moderow
In this event, we will discuss how to construct a simple shelter in the winter and actually build one! Make sure to dress warmly and be prepared to dig in the snow. Meet at the parking lot by the Mogle Center.

Springtime Scavenger Hunt
Saturday, March 19, 2022
10:00 – 11:00 am
Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes
Grove Rd., Freeport, IL
Coordinator: Adam Moderow
As spring begins, the animals and plants around us begin to make their voices heard and colors seen. Just like we get more active as the weather begins to warm, so does the natural world around us. In this lesson, we will look for the signs of spring by investigating signs of increased animal activity. We will divide into teams for a scavenger hunt to see who can find the most signs of spring. Make sure to dress warmly and have your senses ready. Meet at the parking lot by the Mogle Center.

To register for either of these events, contact Adam at 815-541-5842 or by email at

Beginning Birder

Barn Owl
(Tyto alba)

Barn Owl Barn Owls are known for their white heart-shaped faces and very large dark eyes. They do not hoot like other owls and instead make eerie, raspy screeching sounds. They are strictly nocturnal and are excellent silent predators of other night creatures, such as rodents, shrews, bats, and rabbits. Like other owls, they use their excellent hearing and advanced night vision to locate their prey. They also swallow their prey whole and cough up pellets of the undigested prey materials of bones and fur.

Barn Owls live in open areas like marshes, grasslands, or agriculture fields and require cavities for their roosting, such as in trees, caves, or barns. To attract Barn Owls to your area to roost, consider putting up a nest box.

Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and pesticide use affecting their prey, Barn Owl populations may be declining. Please share with others that the use of poisons to kill mice ultimately kill owls and hawks (as well as other predators).


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


This time of year is where the weather is in transition, so outdoor play may be either difficult because it is too cold or because it is too muddy! This is a good chance to learn about how animals protect themselves when the weather goes through different extremes.

First, learn about different animal habitats like tunnels, dens, nests, cavities, and caves. Which animals use existing structures and which animals create these spaces themselves? Where do they find the materials? Look up pictures of these structures and homes.

Then, start to create these models in your home or backyard and pretend you are these animals or use stuffed animals or figurines.

Build a nest - what materials would you use? You can use pencils, sticks, chopsticks, spoons, toothpicks, etcetera! Create a contest and see who can build a nest that does not fall apart.

Create a tunnel, fort, or cave with pillows, blankets, and sheets and pretend to hibernate!

It is also fun to play with food – pretzel sticks, marshmallows, crackers, mashed potatoes, frosting, and other stackable and moldable foods. Or use clay or play-dough.

When weather allows, go outside and find different habitats and figure out which animal created them. Winter and late spring is a good time to find nests before the leaves return in deciduous trees. This time of year is also easier to find tunnels or burrows by looking for animal activity like prints in the mud or snow. If you have a bluebird house, start watching to see when a bluebird pair checks out a potential new nesting area.

Go explore and get messy!


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... >

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