WRN Kids – Pollinators and Kites

kite flying

Pollinators and Kites

On Saturday, June 4, 2022, WRN Kids visited the Forest Heights Pollinator Patch to learn about bees, plant seeds, and fly kites.

This week at Nature Kids the topic was Pollinators and Kites. Dana Church, a local scientist who studies bees, came and spoke about her book The Beekeepers, and told us interesting facts about bees. It is important to learn about bees because many are endangered, and we need them to pollinate fruits and vegetables.

Flowers in bloom
Dana Church
Dana Church
group listening to speaker
planting seeds

We planted seeds and small plants in the Forest Heights Pollinator Patch, which is a volunteer managed garden in Meadowlane Park.

planting seeds

Then we went to fly kites in the field. The weather was warm with a slight wind which made it very good for flying kites.

Canada Anemone

Because it was the last meeting of the year we had cookies as a treat and received a book about birds. It was a fun morning outdoors.

Reported by Caroline

kite flying
kite flying
kite flying

WRN Kids – Nature Photography

Nature Photography

On Saturday, April 30, 2022, WRN Kids visited Breithaupt Park for a photography outing led by Focus On Nature.

Today, we learned about nature photography. First there was a small presentation where we learned about the elements of photography which are: Line, Shape, Form, Space, Texture, Tone, Rule of thirds, SCUFI-Shoot Close Up For Impact, and Colour which has three properties: Hue, Saturation, and Brightness.

This is important to learn about because of a couple of reasons. Here are three: To have fun, to remember interesting things, and to show people things that you like after you see them.

by Calum
people taking photos
by Jackson

If you did not bring a camera they would loan you one. Then we went outside and split into two groups. The two groups then split up and went on a walk. During the walk you could take pictures of interesting things. The weather was a bit cloudy but with some sunny spots.

by Hunter

During the activities I felt very happy. I liked taking pictures of cool things that I saw. Some examples of what I saw: Trout Lily, Bloodroot, A squirrel tail, and a deep hole. To me it was very fun. My favourite part was the walk and taking pictures.

Reported by Calum

WRN Kids – Cliffhangers

Small limestone cliff

Cliffhangers at rare – March 26, 2022

Today, we visited a cliffhanger event at RARE. It was a nature walk, guided by two of their leaders, Michelle and Istafa. Before we set out for our walk, a volunteer set up an ice breaker game for the kids. It was called cross the creek, and the coordinator drew a crosshatch grid in the dirt. You were to try to find the patches that were rocks in the creek and cross the creek. It was a fun game for the children, and the adults enjoyed trying to remember which patches were rocks and guessing the next one.

Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail
Cedar forest by river
Michelle and Istafa

Then, we went on the walk. Our first stop was to learn about the barn swallows. There was a large structure standing in the middle of a field, built to give the barn swallows a place to build their nests.

Talking at Bald Eagel statue
We also stopped at a wall of limestone, and the guides said we could look around, gently lifting logs and climbing limestone. We saw snake eggs, hibernating wasps, and even a few fossils engraved in the limestone.
Climbing limestone cliff
Small limestone cliff
Talking at the cliff
Skunk Cabbage
Skunk Cabbage

We made a stop at a swamp, and spoke about how the wetlands are so important to the ecosystem because it’s habitat for so many of the plants and animals.. We saw some skunk cabbage blooming beside the swamp as well!

Crossing water on a boardwalk

The weather was gray and it snowed a little bit, but despite that, we had a great time and the event was a complete success! We definitely recommend going and trying out the experience!

Reported by the Lee family.

WRN Kids – Snowshoeing and Off-trailing

kids feet in snowshoes

Snowshoeing and Off-trailing – Huron Natural Area – Feb 26, 2022

Today was a cool -7 degrees but nice and sunny. 
Our topic today was snowshoeing. It was important to learn about snowshoeing in case we ever need to walk through deep snow without tiring ourselves out too much.

game instructions
green light in snowshoe game
kids feet in snowshoes

Today we did 3 snowshoe games. We did an ice fishing relay, red light green light, and clothespin tag.

red light in snowshoe game
After we played games we went off trailing. We found a big hill to climb and then went through the woods and ended up at the pond.
kids on hill
hand feeding chickadees
The activities were very fun and we used a lot of energy doing them. 
I liked walking through the forest best because I’ve never got to do it before.

Reported by Blake.

kids on hill

Once we got to the pond a nice couple game us some birdseed and we were able to feed chickadees right from our hands! We also saw a mouse and a red squirrel who were also interested in the birdseed.

WRN Kids – Wildlife Tracking

Wildlife Tracking – Feb 12, 2022

This outing was about wildlife tracking at Bechtel park, an urban park with lots of wildlife action! We learned that animals will adapt to the cold like chickadees, migrate to warmer regions like the monarch butterfly, or hibernate like frogs.

It is important to learn about winter wildlife because then we know what lives there and then we can protect them and their habitat.
Who lives in this hole?

As we walked on the trails, we looked for animal tracks and tried to figure out who had walked there. We saw deer tracks, rabbit tracks and others.

It was a cold but sunny winter day and we felt sheltered in the woodlot. The best part of this outing was meeting and playing with new friends!

A colourful new species of squirrel.

Reported by the Grant family.

WRN Kids – Predator Prey Game

Predator Prey Game – Nov 27, 2021

This month, Nature Kids met at RARE in Cambridge. We started out by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with the life cycle. If we won the rock/paper/scissors challenge, we moved to the next stage of the life cycle. We played with both the butterfly and the frog life cycles.

We each were assigned to be either a herbivore, an omnivore or a carnivore, and we had to survive by getting food and water. There were stations in the woods where we could get food and water.

Food

As a group we walked to an area called the Salamander Forest where we played the Predator Prey Game. This was a lovely forest off the path with lots of space to run around.

Water

If we got food and water, we could get extra “lives” (represented by popsicle sticks) for our species. If we were eaten by those above us in the food chain, we had to give them one of our “lives.” It was a sunny, cold day, but we stayed warm because we did a lot of running around the forest trying to survive.

Carnivore -> Omnivore -> Herbivore
Watch out for the human disrupter in the orange vest!
Play Video

At the end of the game, we talked about whether our species survived well, was endangered, or was overpopulated. If there are imbalances in the food chain, it affects the whole food chain. We ended the morning by talking about what we could do to take care of animals and their habitat. What are some things we can do to help endangered species?

 

Giselle Carter
WR Nature Kids coordinator

WRN Kids – Fun Day of Bird Watching

Fun day of Bird Watching.

On Saturday November 6, we went bird watching at Hillside Park in Waterloo.  The weather was nice, it was cool but no rain.  At first, we played an ice breaker game – would you rather.  It was a fun game. 

We saw a few squirrels running around.  We learned an interesting fact about black squirrels, they are unique to Southern Ontario, and not found in many places outside this area.  There were a lot of squirrel nests in some of the trees.

We saw a few American Robins in the top of some trees.

David was telling us how each year the bird population is declining.  This is why it is important to enjoy and learn about the birds around us.  There were a few Cardinals out as well.  The male Cardinals are bright red, and the females are a light brown in colour.

We had a special guest, David Gascoigne (a bird expert) who led the group.

We learned about invasive plants such as Buckthorn.  The Chickadees were out singing to us and flying around.  They are David’s favourite bird in Ontario, and mine as well.

There were also lots of Mallard ducks swimming in the creek as we crossed over the bridge.  The green head of male Mallard ducks are pretty colour.   We saw a blue Herron flying.

I really enjoy learning about birds and hope to go bird watching again! 
 

Reported by:     Hunter

WRN Kids – Scavenger Hunt

A report of the first WRN Kids outing of the 2021-2022 season on Saturday, September 25, 2021:

We went on an outdoor scavenger hunt at Huron Natural Area to find things in nature. It was sunny but not too hot, a perfect day to go on a walk.

Before we went out to look for things on the list we played two games. The first game was called builders and dozers. It was adults versus kids and we tied the first game but the kids won the second game. Then we got a parachute and bounced a stuffy up and down until it went flying off the parachute.

After the games, we went out with our parents along the trails to find things on the list before time ran out. 

My mom and I made it back to the meeting place in time to talk about what we found. Some of the pictures that the adults took were really cool. 

Only one family found an item on the list called Jack-in-the-pulpit. We were the only family that found an apple tree.

 
Doll's Eyes / White Baneberry

My favourite part was deep in a forest area where there were many different mushrooms that looked like plates with dirt on the top. On the bottom, they had skinny white gills. We got a little bit lost and found lots of new trails we’d never been on before. 

Jack-in-the-pulpit Berries
Thank you for reopening the WRN Nature Kids because it’s really fun and interesting.
 

Reported by:     Cohen

WRN Kids – Snowshoeing

On Saturday February 29th we went snowshoeing at Laurel Creek Nature Centre in Waterloo. We learned that snowshoes were first used by Indigenous people. The first snowshoes were made out of wood and parts sourced from animals. Snowshoes are useful to help you walk on snow, without them on you would sink into the snow.

There was lots of snow on the ground that day. The weather was good, it was cold but the sun was out. We went snowshoeing in the forest. The forest was beautiful to walk through. I was really happy to go snowshoeing. We played a tag game with our snowshoes on. It was fun

We also got to feed the chickadees and have them land on us.  
 

Reported by:     Hunter     Age 7

WRN Kids – Christmas Bird Count for Kids

On January 25th 2020, Waterloo Region Nature Kids participated in the annual bird count at RARE on Blair road in Cambridge. We met in the old barn and got divided into groups of a couple of families and a bird leader.

We had lots of fun walking around in the slushy snow with our binoculars and counted lots of birds. Our group was called the “peregrine falcons” and we spotted lots of birds which our bird leader, David Gascoigne, helped us identify including black capped chickadees, cardinals, American crows, downy woodpeckers, mallards, canada geese, common goldeneyes and TWO BALD EAGLES (one juvenile and one adult).

White-breasted Nuthatch
Black-capped Chickadee

We kept count of the type and number of birds on our clipboard. The data collected by us and all of the other people doing bird counts across North America will be used to understand the bird population from year to year.

We finished off with hot chocolate, marshmallows and Timbits in the house next to the old barn. It felt good to warm up before going home.

Reported by Eric

Photos and results chart courtesy of rare.

WRN Kids – Sustainable Living and Indigenous Land Use

On Saturday, November 30th , 2019, the WRN kids went to Rare Conservation Area in Cambridge to learn about Sustainable Living and Indigenous Land Use.
 
Checking the slit barn walls for fossils
Some of the slit barn wall fossils
The morning was cloudy and cold but we were by the trees so it blocked out most of the wind.
 
Our group walked to the gardens first.  We went inside a greenhouse where kale can grow year-round.  It was so warm inside. 
 
We saw a goat pen that is used in the summertime to stop invasive Phragmites plants from growing. It looked like the Phragmites was cut but it was really the goats eating it all up!  
 
Then we saw the Indigenous Food Garden where a lot of fruits and vegetables are grown for the Food Bank. After that my group saw the markers for a Longhouse where several First Nation families would live together.  We learned that there are very few artefacts left because they used natural materials that biodegrade over time.  
 
Longhouse markers
North House
On our walk back we saw a strange opening in the hill.  We learned it was a root cellar that the early settlers used to keep their foods cool.  How “cool” is that?
 
Our last stop was a look around inside “North House”, which is a small house that uses the sun to power it.  Everything inside looked like it was from the future including a bed which is dangling from 4 wires in the ceiling and has a remote control to move it up and down.
 

For the second half of our morning there we walked close to the river. A local archeologist showed us some samples of arrowheads and clay pottery that were found in this area. He told us that the Grand River used to flow over all of this area 12000 years ago. Mastodons roamed nearby too.

Pottery fragments
We learned that the people who have lived in our area over thousands of years knew what to do to survive.  Everything they needed came from the land around them and there was enough for everyone.
 
Laertes

WRN Kids – Nature Photography

Saturday October 19, 2019
 
On Saturday morning we photographed Huron Natural Area for nature club. The fall colours were beautiful! First, we learned how to take a photograph. We learned about the art elements: line, texture, colour, form, tone and shape. We saw some cool photographs. Next, the photographers from Focus on Nature showed the group how to use a camera. Then we went outside to take photos. We got to see plants, animals, a pond and the forest. We took our photos paying attention to the art elements that we learned. The best part of the day was being outdoors exploring and taking pictures. 
 
By Alice
Age 9
 
Photos by Ada and Alice

WRN Kids – Pond Study

On the last Saturday in September, the Nature Kids group met for the first time. We started out by playing a few games to get to know other families.

Our topic for the day was pond life and the diversity of animals that live in the pond. Jean Luc, our naturalist, told us that only 5 % of all animals have spines like us! We don’t know as much about invertebrates so that is what we looked for in the pond. Jean Luc showed us how to use nets properly and we worked in groups to collect pond creatures.

It was really fun to catch different kinds of animals – we found some pretty interesting ones.

We brought them back to learn to identify what we found. We found nymphs, beetles, minnows and crayfish to name a few. At the end of our time together, we took turns sharing with the group what our favourite finds were.

Immature Large Milkweed Bugs

We look forward to seeing everyone next month to learn about nature photography!

WRN Kids – Fire and Fireflies

On Saturday, June 8, WRN kids got to learn all about fireflies! It was a gorgeous night. When we got to Laurel Creek, we saw two deer!

While we waited for the sun to set, we had a camp fire. We tried to roast the perfect marshmallow, but many got burnt. They still tasted good!

We caught really cool bugs and put them in a bug apartment. We saw a raccoon scurry through the field. We played catch while we waited for dark.

After our fire, we hiked to the storm management pond. We heard green frogs and tree frogs. We saw a bat. We waited for it to get dark. We noticed orange flashes, they were fireflies! The male fireflies flash to impress the females. We actually caught some. They only live for a couple of weeks. We have never seen a firefly before, it was awesome.

Even though it was way past our bedtime, it was worth it. We hope to have more fun with fireflies again!
By Ada and Alice

 

​​​Thanks to Ada and Alice, sisters who are WRN Kids members, for a great report!

This special evening program was the wrap-up for our 2018-19 year. Thank you to David O’Reilly, our naturalist this time who built a great fire and helped us discover lots of cool things. Thanks to Mary-Anne Cain for coordinating our programs at Laurel Creek Nature Centre.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped out over the year: Linden Imeson Jorna, Linda Dutka, Pat Bigelow, Zack Stevens, Kristi Neufeld, Cathy McKerron, and Giselle Carter who will be WRN Kids coordinator for 2019-2020. Also, much appreciation to Cathi Stewart for putting Kids on Facebook and to Paul Bigelow for putting us on the WRN website, managing registrations, and doing many other jobs.

And, as usual, thanks to the families who were part of WRN Kids this year! We love your enthusiasm about nature! Don’t forget to sign up for the fall!

Marg Paré
WRN coordinator 2018-19