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:


My Little Pond
by Katrin Wiehle

This adorable board book shares the life of Duck, Frog, and Fish in their home of the little pond. The young child wild enjoy the pleasant and soft colors, simple drawings, and friendly faces of various animals. It also introduces the child to various plants as well. The board book is made with 100% recycled materials, which demonstrates commitment to sustainability.


Over and Under the Pond
by Kate Messner

This book is part of the Over and Under series, providing another look at a different ecosystem on the planet. The book covers quite a diverse array of animal life, including birds, such as the Red-winged Blackbird and Great Blue Heron, mammals like moose, otters, and beavers, reptiles like painted turtles, amphibians like bullfrogs, and a variety of insects. The readers will enjoy discovering what lives over and under the pond as they turn each page and feel like they are peering into the water.


Explore Rivers and Ponds!: With 25 Great Projects
by Carla Mooney

This is a great science-themed book that can introduce a young adult to the important and fascinating freshwater ecosystems. The book is easy to read, with “words to know” in bold along the way, as well as in a glossary in the back. Included are various hands-on projects such as building a watershed replica, pouring casts for animal tracks, and creating an ecologist field kit, to help reinforce what they learned. The book also provides resources of book references, websites, and a list of science museums and aquariums across the country.


The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World
by Jeff Goodell

The descriptive title reveals what this book is about from the start. The author describes the future of rising sea levels, inundating coastal regions that include some of the world’s major cities. The author paints a thought-provoking picture by providing well-researched information and scientific references throughout the book. Despite anyone’s efforts toward slowing down climate change, the effect of melting ice caps and rising sea levels is predicted to occur, and societies need to be ready for it.

Kids and Families
August/September 2022
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

August and September events throughout Freeport and surrounding areas!

Monarch Banding at the Butterfly Farm
Saturday, August 27
1:00 – 3:00 pm
10405 N. Bellview Road, Orangeville, IL
Coordinator: Teresa Smith

Join us at the 83-acre Jane Addamlands Park Foundation Butterfly Farm for an afternoon with monarch butterflies. Ruth Little will have participants help collect butterflies and will then demonstrate and explain the importance of the butterfly banding process.

Contact Teresa Smith at 815-238-3963 for details.

Explore Insects at Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve
Sunday, September 11, 2022
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve, 5380 N Leaf River Rd, Mt Morris, IL 61054

Join John Walt, entomologist extraordinaire, for a leisurely stroll along our trails as we search for fascinating insects. John says, “We could see anything!” Butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, a host of “leaf-eaters” and more could be observed. Bring water, if desired. Snacks will be provided. If weather is questionable, call Mary Blackmore at 815-938-3204. The preserve is located about 2 miles south of Leaf River in the southwest corner of the intersection of Leaf River Rd. and West Grove Rd. Parking is off of Leaf River Rd. (S. Main St. crosses HWY 72 in Leaf River and becomes Leaf River Rd.).

Learn about Water
Saturday, September 17, 2022
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Rd., Freeport, IL
Coordinator: Adam Moderow, 815-541-5842

Learn about the importance of water, how animals get water in the wild, and different strategies for finding water if needed. Dress appropriately with proper footwear and prepare to get wet! Meet by the Mogle building, just off of the parking lot.

Beginning Birder

Wood Duck
(Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck When most people think of a duck, they think of one that quacks (the Mallard!), but it's important to know that there are many more types of ducks that exist, such as the Wood Duck! In fact, there are more than 29 duck species in North America.

The male Wood Duck, has a green head like the Mallard, but will also reveal many more colors of the rainbow all over its body with an iridescent sheen. The male has a deep red eye, a crested head, and a multicolored bill. The female is mostly brown, but shares a similar, but smaller crest on the head as well as blue speculum feathers. The female will also have a white “teardrop” eye pattern.

The Wood Duck does not quack like a Mallard, but instead makes a high-pitched whistle that rises and falls. The name Wood Duck refers to their habitat requirements and breeding behavior. Wood Ducks perch and nest in trees, which is different from most waterfowl. They can be found in wooded swamps, marshes, streams, or near wet areas. They are cavity nesters, finding existing holes in trees or using human-placed nest boxes, which is helpful in areas of habitat loss. When the young hatch, the ducklings will jump from the nest to their mother calling below, sometimes from over 50 feet high, without injury! They are dabbling ducks, consuming insects and arthropods in the water, but will also eat seeds and fruits.

Look for these ducks in areas around Stephenson County and enjoy their beautiful colors and charming behaviors!

* Thanks to

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


Family Activity

Explore the water!

Go with a parent or adult to a pond or creek. Bring a net, coffee can, bucket, or any other container. Don’t forget to wear boots and prepare to get wet!

Scoop up the water and make sure to gather a lot of the dirt at the bottom – some of the most interesting creatures are hiding down there! These creatures tend to be scavengers and detritivores, digesting dead material and returning them back to the water. They play an important role for the health of the aquatic ecosystem.

You may find invertebrates, such as dragonfly, damselfly, and mayfly larvae as well as adults of these larvae flying around. You may also see giant water bugs, water striders sliding along the surface of the water, diving beetles, water boatmen, and water scorpions. You may find larger invertebrates like a crayfish scurrying along the bottom. Be on the lookout for vertebrates such as minnows or larger fish, amphibians like frogs and toads, reptiles like turtles and snakes, and maybe even mammals swimming in the water!

Anything you collect, make sure to treat them with respect and care and put them back in the water when you are done.

Here is a cool resource created by entomologist Moriya Rufer from the University of Minnesota to help in identification!

Safety tips – make sure to use caution around slippery rocks. Algae or moss growing on a rock makes them slippery, so always check that you have secure footing. It’s best not to jump from rock to rock. Crayfish have some strong claws – be careful when handling them to avoid pinches! Similarly, be careful with some insects, especially the giant water bug – because they are predators, they can have a painful bite (they are nicknamed toe-biters!). A change of clothes for the trip back home is also helpful!


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.

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