Monday, July 18, 2011

Nature Net News - June 2011 - Pond Life

Nature Net News
Your source for tips & tricks for exploring nature with your kids

Dear Reader,

"I wish I were a muskrat, eye deep in the marsh."
Aldo Leopold
The croaking of the peepers is one of the first signs that summer is on its way and new life is teeming in a wetland nearby. From skating water bugs to baby bullheads waving tentacles in a friendly hello, the pond is one of the epicenters of life during early summer. 

Did you ever go to your local pond to dip a fishing net (or a parent's really expensive butterfly net) into the waters, and pull out a netful of life? Did you ever catch and raise tadpoles, watching in amazement as limbs sprouted, and letting the little frogs hop off your hand deep into the pond from whence they came? Did you ever slip off your shoes and dig your toes into the marshy ooze?

'Tis the season for pond dipping, and that's just what this episode of Nature Net News is all about. Read how to collect and identify what you find, get some activity ideas, and make a couple of froggy faces.


Kathe, Sarah & Brenna
The Folks at Nature Net

Did You Know.....

A muskrat swims by paddling its hind feet and using its flattened tail as a rudder. They live in dry burrows or reed huts, but usually enter through an underwater tunnel.

Water lilies have a waxy coating that keeps their floating leaves dry so they don't rot.

A group of frogs is called an "army," and frogs don't drink water - they absorb it through their skin.

What To Do This Month:
Go to your local pond, lake or marsh and go pond-dipping! Bring a net and small jars or dishes to collect and observe bugs, fish, eggs, tadpoles, and other signs of life (be sure to let them go when you're done!) Record in a notebook and use a field guide to see what pond life you can find and identify.

Check out the latest club on the block: The Madison Family Nature Club! Come and join the fun at their Lake Wingra Outing on Saturday, June 4th!

Hot off the presses! Pick up a free Summer 2011 Nature Passport for fun family outdoor activities all summer long.

Tricks of the Trail for Parents:
Slip Splash!
Be careful when dipping at your water source. The ground near the edge can be muddy and slippery, so try to find a flat dry spot and beware of floating duckweed, which can look deceptively like solid ground. Even a dry dock can lend itself to topples, so keep both knees or a belly on the boards and don't lean too far out! It's always a good idea to keep a dry towel, socks or change of clothes handy. Finally, since insects tend to live near water sources, remember to wear long sleeves or bring bug spray!

Instant Outdoor Expert:
Pond Critters
Do you need help identifying all the critters you've captured? Check out the UW Extension's Wacky, Wonderful Water Critters illustrated guide for young readers. 

Featured Nature Net Site:

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Go pond dipping at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona! Pick up a Family Trailside Backpack (Free for members, $5 non-members) and dip away with all the supplies you need to collect and identify creatures in the pond! Drop-in hours are typically 8:30am - 4pm Monday-Friday. To ensure availability, you may wish to call in advance to reserve the backpacks. You can also enjoy the trails through the prairie, woods and wetland any day of the week from dawn to dusk!
The mission of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center is to "...teach the student to see the land, understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands," in the spirit of famed Wisconsin conservationist, Aldo Leopold. Through hands-on, guided experiences, children and adults come to discover and explore the wonders of the natural world!

Nature Craft: 
Froggy Faces

What you need: paper plate, party blower, scissors, markers or crayons, tape or stapler, googly eyes (optional). 
1. Fold your paper plate in half. 

2. Cut a small hole in the center of the folded plate. 

3. Decorate the top half of your plate to look like a frog. You can cut eyes to pop out or use googly eyes. 

4. Place party blower inside the plate, with the mouthpiece through the hole and the curled part sticking out of the bottom with the curl facing upwards. Tape in place. 

5. Tape or staple the open end of the paper plate. 

6. Viola - you have a frog face! Have fun blowing on the mouthpiece to make your frog's tongue roll out!

Suggested Reading:
Suggested Reading:
"In My Pond" by Sara Gillingham (baby-preschool)
"In the Small, Small Pond" by Denise Flemming (toddler-6)
"Splash!" by Ann Jonas (preschool)
"Around the Pond: Who's Been Here?" by Lindsay Barrett George (4-7)
"What's in the Pond?" by Anne Hunter (4-8)
"Life in a Pond" by Carol K. Lindeen (4-8)
"Pond Animals" by Francine Galko (4-8)
"Would You Rather Be a Pollywog?" by Bonnie Worth (4-8)
"Pond Circle" by Betsy Franco (4-8)
"Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs and Leaping Frogs" by Anthony D. Fredericks (4-8)
"Around the Pond" by Ann Cooper (4-8)
"Pond" by Gordon Morrison (4-8)
"Salamander Rain" by Kristen Joy Pratt-Serafini (5-12)
"The Prince of the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin" by Donna Jo Napoli (6+)
"Pond Scum" by Alan Silberberg (7-12)
"Pond" by Donald Silver (7-13)

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