WRN Kids – The Night Sky

WRN Kids was a bit different this month; they met in the evening to learn about the night sky! Sadly, the sky was overcast so the program was all indoors. The Kids were still excited to learn about astronomy and had really great questions.

Ian, a GRCA naturalist, used a software program to show constellations and planets, and travel through space and time.

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Afterwards, several volunteers from the KW branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada showed off their toys! The Kids got to touch the telescopes and learn a bit about how they work. After chatting with the amateur astronomers, the Kids took home sky charts to try out on a clearer night.
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WRN Kids – Water

On Saturday October 27, 2018 the WRN Kids met the turtles who live inside at the nature centre and learned about turtle shells, how turtles survive, and why they are endangered.

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It was cold, windy and a bit rainy but they got their rubber boots on, brought the nets and buckets, and got right into the creek to see who lives there — and could still be found this late in the fall.

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They were excited to catch fish, some very cool bugs, some strange creatures in early stages of development, tiny red Blood Worms — and a Northern Leopard Frog!

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For more photos visit the WRN Kids blog at October 27, 2018 – Water at Laurel Creek Nature Centre.

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Viceroy Butterfly
Viceroy Butterfly

WRN Kids – Monarch Migration and Bug Hunt

Viceroy Butterfly

On Saturday September 29, 2018 the WRN Kids learned about the Monarch butterfly life cycle and migration from Jeff Grant, a grade 10 student who is a butterfly and moth expert.

Jeff Grant
Jeff Grant
Monarch Migration Game

GRCA naturalist Chris sent the families out on a hike/game that emulated what food and hazards Monarchs would find during their migration.

Next, they went hunting live bugs with nets in the meadow.

Bug Hunt
Examining captured bug
Bug Hunt
Butterfly in cage

For more photos visit the WRN Kids blog at September 29, 2018 – Monarch Migration and Bug Hunt.

Viceroy Butterfly
Viceroy Butterfly

WRN Kids – SpruceHaven Outing

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On Saturday June 9, 2018 WRN Kids went on a bonus outing to SpruceHaven Farm in St. Agatha led by David Gascoigne. They viewed the mud nests in the barn and learned how the nests are monitored by volunteers during the breeding season.

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They got to see a one day old Barn Swallow up close.

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Out in the fields they saw Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, and got to hold a Tree Swallow nestling.

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For more on this outing and some more photos visit the WRN Kids blog at: June 9, 2018 — SpruceHaven.

WRN Kids – Tree Planting

Tree Planting

New trees are needed in a few spots at Laurel Creek Nature Centre because of some invasive species being removed and to replace ash trees that had to be cut down.

On Saturday April28, 2018 - WRN Kids and their adults put in a morning of carrying trees, shovels and buckets, finding the perfect planting spot not too close to other trees, digging a hole, digging the hole bigger, getting the young tree comfortable, filling in and packing down the soil, filling buckets with mulch, carrying buckets, spreading mulch… and starting over!

For more photos, see the blog posting at their website: April 28, 2018 – Tree Planting.

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Tree Planting
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WRN Kids – Owl Prowl

Easern Screech Owl (Stuffed)

WRN Kids began their evening program on Saturday February 24, 2018 with a short talk about owls and their special adaptations that make them different from other birds. Eyes, ears, head rotation, silent flight and gripping talons are all geared to detecting and catching their prey.

Introduction to Owls
Introduction to Owls
Explaining Owl Features
Explaining Owl Features

There were two stuffed owls to look at - an Eastern Screech Owl and a Great Horned Owl.

Easern Screech Owl (Stuffed)
Easern Screech Owl (Stuffed)
Great Horned Owl (Stuffed)
Great Horned Owl (Stuffed)

Next they went out on the trails in the forest in search of owls. It was a lovely night, not too windy and plenty of moonlight. After several stops with no response to played calls, they finally got replies from a couple of screech owls. Some caught a glimpse of the owls flying over their heads, and some were lucky enough to see one sitting in a tree. All in all, it was a wonderful night.

For a full report of this event see the blog at the WRN Kids website: February 24, 2018 – Owl Prowl.

WRN Kids – Shelter Building

Shelter Building

Since another mild spell melted almost all the snow, WRN Kids didn't get to go snowshoeing on Saturday, January 27, 2018. Instead they got busy designing and building shelters. 

Shelter Building Instructions

Pairs of families worked together to build a shelter using only a tarp, a rope and dead branches and plant material.

Shelter Building
Shelter Building
Shelter Building

After testing how warm their shelter could get when occupied, they headed back to the nature centre to feed chickadees from their hands.

For more on this event and more photos see the WRN Kids blog at: January 27, 2018 – Shelter-Building

Christmas Bird Count for Kids 2017

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CBC4KidsPoster2017

Some of the WRN Kids families were part of the Christmas Bird Count for Kids at rare Charitable Research Reserve. This event was initially scheduled for a Saturday earlier in the month, but the ferocious wind-chill that day resulted in a postponement to a PD day on Friday, January 26, 2018.

They started out at the feeders behind the Eco Centre, where there were lots of birds.

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
It was a perfect winter's day, with the temperature hovering near the freezing mark, and everyone enjoyed walking the trails.
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Walking the Trails

They heard a Northern Cardinal and eventually got some good views of it.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Back at the Eco Centre they gathered to write down their sightings and enjoy coffee and hot chocolate.

For a full report of this event, see David Gascoigne's blog at Travels With Birds.

WRN Kids – Photo Scavenger Hunt

Goldenrod Gall

The rain stopped for WRN Kids as they set out to explore and take photos at their monthly meeting on Saturday November 25.

A Goldenrod Gall was discovered and broken open to show the larva of the Goldenrod Gall Fly inside.
A Woollybear caterpillar was crossing the road and got examined before being moved out of danger.

Goldenrod Gall

It was also a great day for fungi including Turkey Tail fungus.

Turkey Tail Fungus

They turned lots of logs but decided that the salamanders were probably hibernating deeper down in the earth.

Looking for salamanders

For a full report and more photos, see the blog entry at the WRN Kids website: November 25, 2017 – Photo Scavenger Hunt

WRN Kids – Bird Banding Day

Chickadee Measurement

In spite of the rain at their monthly meeting on Saturday October 28, WRN Kids had fun with a variety of bird-related activities.

After a talk all about bird banding, the kids headed out to do some bird-watching around the Laurel Creek Nature Centre property.

Bird Watching from the Tower

In the meantime Al Woodhouse had caught a Black-capped Chickadee in a ground trap, and the kids got to see it being banded and measured.

Al Woodhouse with Chickadee
Chickadee Measurement

After almost but not quite, enticing Chickadees to eat out of their hands, they headed indoors to try a bird photo and silhouette matching activity.

Bird Matching Activity

For a full report and more photos, see the blog entry at the WRN Kids website: October 28, 2017 – Bird Banding Day

WRN Kids First Outing

Kids Hike

WRN Kids had their first outing on Saturday September 30 at Laurel Creek Nature Centre on a gorgeous autumn day.

Kids Hike

Seventeen young naturalists took to the trails to seek out common woodland, field and pond plants as well as elusive critters and evidence of their existence. Everyone was excited to find leopard and wood frogs, a tree perching great blue heron, a scurrying slew of red backed salamanders, white toothed fungi and miniature puffballs.

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Bee On Aster
Great Blue Heron In Tree

For a full report and more photos see their blog at the WRN Kids website: Sept 30th 2017 – First Outing!

WRN Kids Wrap-Up

WRN Kids have wrapped up another great year. To see all the other interesting things they have been up to over the past 9 months visit their blog at https://wrnatureclub.wordpress.com/blog.

Biothon and Pot Luck Picnic - May 27 2017

We had a great time wrapping WRN Kids up for the year!  We had a small turn-out of Kids but the 4 families, 4 volunteers, 1 naturalist and 3 special guests (thanks for joining us, WRN board members Josh, Paul and Rachael!) managed to find and record exactly 105 different living things!  We're pretty proud of our work!

We spent time at the pond where we enjoyed some very jumpy amphibians and got a glimpse of a painted turtle, our only reptile.  We caught lots of dragonfly nymphs and learned about their amazing transformation from water creature to flying creature.

Remembering to keep an eye out all the time for birds (20 species!), we hunted for bugs in the field then walked through the beautiful wetland and forest investigating fungi and trying to identify plants.  We were disappointed not to find salamanders but did manage to spot a few mammals including a rabbit, a chipmunk, a few humans and evidence of deer.

We were pretty hungry by this time so we headed back to the nature centre to spread out our pot luck picnic and share the feast!  We had a great meal and chatted about new adventures for next year.

Thanks to everybody who helped make WRN Kids a great experience for Kids and their families this year.

  •  Thanks to Waterloo Region Nature for inventing and supporting WRN Kids!
  •  Thanks to Grand River Conservation Authority and the folks at Laurel Creek Nature Centre for providing a perfect place for us to meet and explore.
  •  Thanks to Garrison McCleary on the GRCA staff for being an awesome leader and teacher.
  •  Thanks to WRN Kids volunteers from the adult club; Pat, Linda, Susie, Cathi, Jenn and Matt; and to our high school student volunteers; Jotham and Linden.
  •  Thanks to Richard, Cathi and Paul for taking care of WRN Kids social media.
  •  Thanks to the WRN Kids' adults for signing your great Kids up for this club!... and then coming along with them every time!
  •  And especially, thanks to the nature-loving Kids who come out to learn more about nature.  We honestly believe you are making the world a better place.

If you were wondering about next year, it turns out there are some pretty amazing programs we haven't tried yet so looks like 2017-18 will be an all-new list of adventures!  We really hope to see lots of you back at WRN Kids!  Tell your friends and cousins and classmates!  Any kids 7 to 12 years old are welcome to come out with an adult.

Have a safe and wonderful summer exploring nature!  Looking forward to hearing about it in September!

Marg Paré
WRN Kids coordinator
kids@waterlooregionnature.ca