Inspiring exploration, appreciation, and conservation of our natural world.

#StayHome with Nature

Can’t make it to the Boardman River Nature Center today? No worries! Check out the activities below for naturalists of all ages to explore while in the comfort of their own home. These activities are designed to use minimal materials or none at all to get you thinking about everything that Nature has to offer. Join us from home and #GetOutside with these interactive activities and free resources we have compiled for you to enjoy!

Signs of Spring

Spring is near! #Getoutside and explore the growing things around you. Look at the buds on the trees, observe the catkins blowing in the wind and record any blossoms you see in your adventures.

Instructions:
1.) #GetOutside

2.) Observe the signs of spring! Buds, catkins, and blossoms are great signs of spring that you may come across.

3.) Consider the following when observing your findings:
⁣ ▪️Use your senses to observe each of these items
⁣ ▪️Record your findings, compare and contrast each item
⁣ ▪️Choose and watch a bud to observe over the next week

Signs of Wildlife

As the snow continues to melt, look for tracks, scat, and other signs of wildlife that give you clues to what wildlife may be around you!

Instructions:
1.) #GetOutside

2.) Observe signs of animals. If you come across a track or another sign, draw or take a picture so that you can identify later.

3.) Consider the following when observing your findings:
⁣ ▪️Does the track have claw marks?
⁣ ▪️What is the composition of the scat?
⁣ ▪️What color are the feathers or fur?

Beautiful Butterflies

Spring is taking its time to arrive in Michigan, so lets fast forward to summer! Monarch’s will embark on their long journey and other butterflies will emerge from their chrysalis like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail! The Boardman River Nature Center pollinator garden is the perfect place to observe many of these species in the summer, especially monarchs!

Instructions:
1.) #GetOutside

2.) Identify an area with enough space to spin yourself in a circle. Now go to that TP stock and grab a roll of toilet paper. Use a roll of toilet paper (if you do not have one to spare, use a blanket or whatever else you can find to wrap up in). Wrap yourself in the toilet paper or material of choice to resemble a butterfly pupa wrapped up in a chrysalis. Break out of it like a beautiful butterfly!

3.) Consider the following after completing this activity:
⁣ ▪️Pupa is what stage of the butterfly life cycle?
⁣ ▪️What is the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon?
⁣ ▪️Are all chrysalis’ the same color and size? Why or why not?

Rockin’ Ramps🌱

Foraging season is upon us! Whether you are searching for morels or fiddleheads, consider this other Michigan favorite. Now, we at the Natural Education Reserve have a no-pick rule. But! If you are near a wooded area where you are able to pick, consider searching for wild leeks, or “ramps,” as many like to call them.

INSTRUCTIONS:
1) #GetOutside
2) You’re looking for a large population of large green leaves, typically found in wooded areas.
3)  Based on your findings, consider the following:

General rule of thumb, wild leek bulbs will smell like onions! Compare a wild leek to the smell of an onion
Ramps are often found near trilliums, trout lillies or lily of the valley in wooded areas. Keep an eye out for morel mushrooms too!
🚨It is not recommended to go searching in open areas or on dunes, there is a poisonous version of this plant that grows in areas as such called the Death Camas. Remember, if it smells like onions, it’s a ramp. Death Camas, do not.

Shapes in Nature
Shapes are all around us in nature and can be found whether you’re safely enjoying nature in your yard, on a trail, or in your own home. What shapes can you find in plants, clouds, rocks, trees, and more?

Miraculous Morel Mushrooms

It’s that time of year! If you are choosing to social distance yourself in the woods, make sure to keep an eye out for Michiganders favorite mushroom, the morel! Always make sure the cap of the mushroom is attached to the stem and remember, the Natural Education Reserve (NER) does not allow picking! Lets try to find some of these mysterious mushrooms.

INSTRUCTIONS:
1️⃣ #GetOutside
2️⃣ Go on a morel scavenger hunt! Keep your eyes peeled for these sneaky mushrooms that camouflage well with last years leaves and litter layer in the woods.
3️⃣ Based on your findings, consider the following:
    ▪️If you don’t find any, look another day!
    ▪️ Finding these mushrooms is a skill and can often take time and practice.
    ▪️ There are several types of morel mushrooms, use the website below for tips and possible locations for finding them

Wiggling Worms

Warmer temperature means more hidden movement of our wiggly friends, earthworms! Earthworms are unique in many ways and they are nothing to be afraid of. You can hold them if you like but remember they are meant to be in nature and handling them for too long can harm them. Where do you think they will be?

INSTRUCTIONS:
1️⃣ #GetOutside
2️⃣ Start flipping over rocks and logs! Always put them back where you found them, gently.
3️⃣ Based on your findings, consider the following:
    ▪️Do earthworms have mouths?
    ▪️ How do you think earthworms move through the ground?
    ▪️ True or False: Earthworms are Native to Michigan (False!) They are non-native to the upper Midwest.

Free Resources:

Websites:

Free Phone Apps

Search in your app store for these fun and interactive FREE phone apps.

  • inaturalist
  • leafsnap
  • TreeBook
  • VTree
  • What Knot to Do
  • Ready Jet Go
  • MI-MAST
  • Nature Cat
  • AllTrails
  • Audubon Bird Guide
  • Audubon Owls Guide
  • Explore Michigan
  • Michigan Wildflowers
  • MISIN
  • ebird