Nature School at Home for Preschoolers

In-person programs are suspended until June 30. In the meantime…

Keep learning with us! Visit this page Tuesdays and Fridays to find our latest Green By Nature and Knee-high Naturalist Nature at Home activities for your preschoolers!

Also see more new Social-Distancing-friendly nature activities.

Forest Fun | The Tiny Seed | Cool Tools: Marsh Edition | Let’s Dig | Let’s Splash | Tractors and Tools | Nest Check: Purple Martins | Pretty Petals | Marsh Babies | Fast and Slow | Stomp, Leap, Hop | Earthworms Deep Down in the Dirt | What’s the Buzz | Peeping Frogs and Swimming Tadpoles | Welcome Back, Ospreys! | What Makes a Bird a Bird? | Toad Time | Wake Up Farm | Simply Egg-celent | Something Fishy

Tuesday June 2 – Forest Fun

It is almost time for summer and the forests are alive with trees, leaves, and critters galore! Who do you think makes their home in a forest? There are crawling caterpillars, sneaky spiders, slithering salamanders, beautiful birds, and frolicking foxes!

Tracks & Scat

Sometimes we might not find a forest friend, but we can find signs that they are around! A sign might be a feather, a footprint, or an animal’s poop! Can you find any of these animal tracks outside? (page 2 of PDF)

Explore Outside

You can search for forest friends in your backyard!

  • Look for birds perched in trees
  • Listen for woodpeckers pecking, birds calling, and leaves crunching
  • Peek under rocks, leaves, and logs to see what critters are hiding below
  • Feel the cool shade of the trees and the damp soil of the forest floor
  • Climbon rocks and logs
  • Gather nuts and seeds from the forest floor

Storytime: Bear’s New Friend
by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Printable Activity Sheets »

Friday May 29 – The Tiny Seed

Every plant, tree, flower, and fruit started its life as a tiny seed. Seeds need soil, water, air, sun, and space to sprout roots and leaves. If you cut open a fruit or vegetable, you may find some seeds inside!

Getting’ Crafty

  1. Search for seeds inside your house. Can you find dried beans, corn kernels, or nuts?
  2. Search for seeds outside! Can you find pine cones, acorns, or helicopter seeds?
  3. Gather all your seeds and create a mosaic work of art
  4. Glue your mosaic to thick paper or just enjoy your temporary seed art!

Time to Play: Be a Seed

  1. Become a Seed: Float and twirl in the wind. slowly settle to the ground and sleep for the winter.
  2. Spring has arrived! Wiggle your toes and fingers to sprout roots and leaves.
  3. Grow up tall on your tippy-toes. Let your hands blossom into flowers for the summer.
  4. Now it is Fall…Time for new seeds to float in the wind and find a new place to land

Storytime: The Tiny Seed
by Eric Carle

Printable Activity Sheets »

Tuesday May 26 – Cool Tools: Marsh Edition

There are a ton of cool tools that you could use to better explore a marsh. With a pair of rubber boots you’ll be able to get in to the marsh without getting wet socks! (just make sure the water isn’t too deep).

Getting’ Crafty

Fishing Pole Craft

  1. Find a stick from your yard to use as your fishing pole
  2. Tie one end of a string to the rod
  3. On the other end, attach a magnet. The small circle magnets with one sticky side work best! Glue two together with the string sandwiched in between.
  4. Make your fish by cutting pipe cleaners in half. Bend them into a loop and then twist the ends to make a tail.
  5. Place your fish over a blue piece of paper and you’re ready to go fishing!

Storytime: Marsh Music
by Marianne Berkes

Time To Explore

Nets are a great tool for bringing little discoveries to the surface for you to look at. If you’re quick you might even be able to catch a fish! Just be sure to return everything you catch back to where you found it!

Printable Activity Sheets »

Friday May 22 – Let’s Dig

Have you ever seen an animal digging around in the dirt? Some animals dig to make their home beneath our feet! Other animals dig to find a snack- like a juicy worm!

Getting’ Crafty

Beaver Craft for Preschoolers and Kids

  1. Color a paper plate Brown. You have your groundhog’s head!
  2. Use some white paper to cut out whiskers, teeth, and eyes
  3. Next, get black paper to make a nose and two smaller circles to finish the eyes
  4. Cut out two big brown ovals for your ears
  5. Finally, glue it all in place on the paper plate. Now you can be a groundhog too!

Time To Explore

Even if animals that like to spend time underground are difficult to spot, you can still discover plenty of clues that they’re around you! Walk around and try to find some holes that could be the doorway to a groundhog’s home. Just be sure to watch your step!

Printable Activity Sheets »

Tuesday May 19 – Let’s Splash

Water is all over the earth in oceans, ponds, and streams. Many animals live near water or even underwater! Can you name some creatures that live in the water?

Getting’ Crafty

Fish Craft for Preschoolers and Kids

  1. Trace your hand on a piece of paper and cut it out.
  2. Cut heart-shaped lips and glue to the palm of your hand cut-out.
  3. Draw or add a googly eye to your fish.
  4. Decorate your fish however you like! Add a popsicle stick to make a puppet.

Let’s Play – Sink or Float

  1. Walk around outside and collect items for your experiment.
  2. Fill a tub or bucket with water.
  3. Make predictions: Which items will float on top of the water? Which items will sink to the bottom?
  4. Drop the objects one by one and observe what happens!

Printable Activity Sheets »

Storytime: A House for Hermit Crab
by Eric Carle

Friday May 15 – Tractors and Tools

It takes a lot of Cool Tools and Tractors to keep Coverdale operating.Some of our tools are big, and some are small.

Some have motors, like the tractor. Others, the farmer uses their own strength to power!

Broad forks help loosen the soil before planting.

Each tool, no matter its or how it operates, plays a big role helping the farmers tend to our
crops and livestock!

Can you guess the tool we use the most? Our Hands!

Printable Activity Sheets »

Learn About Coverdale Farm’s Cool Tools and Tractors

Storytime: Tremendous Tractors
by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker

Tuesday May 12 – Nest Check: Purple Martins

Purple Martins are members of the swallow family. They nest in large groups called colonies. Our Martin houses at Abbott’s Mill have lots of room for nesting birds.

Learn About Purple Martin Nests

Storytime: No Roses for Harry
by Gene Zion

Getting’ Crafty

Build Like a Bird: Weave

  1. You will need: 3 different colors of 8×11 construction paper, marker, ruler, scissors and glue stick.
  2. Fold one piece of paper along the long edge and cut one inch sections starting at the fold to almost the top (see picture in printable) -keep sections attached.
  3. Cut 6 -inch strips of other colors.
  4. First row starts at the bottom. Weave the yellow -go under-over-under the orange until the end. Next row of green-go over-under-over. Finish with all the colors. You may use glue stick to tack the ends down.

Time to Explore

Did you know…Purple Martins fly with their mouths open to eat insects while soaring over fields and ponds. Go outside…and hunt for flying insects that Purple Martins like to eat. Look for dragonflies, beetles, moths and flies.

Printable Activity Sheets »

Friday May 8 – Pretty Petals

Take a look outside and see the rainbow of colors found in flowers. Bright colors invite visitors. How many different colors do you see? Red, orange, blue or violet? Petals are the colors around the center of the flower.

Plant a Rainbow of Delaware Native Flowers

Do you know that flowers are plants? Plants need sun, water and soil to grow.

Storytime: On Meadowview Street
by Henry Cole

Getting’ Crafty

Make & Match: Fun With Colors

  1. You will need: download printable “A Rainbow Flower”, crayons, scissors, glue stick and cardboard
  2. Choose 5 colors
  3. Make each flower petal a different rainbow color
  4. Cut out the circle
  5. Glue your flower to cardboard
  6. Go Outside

Time to Explore

Take your Rainbow Flower Outside. Look for flowers in your yard. How many different flowers can you find to match the petal colors of your Rainbow Flower?

Printable Activity Sheets »

Tuesday May 5 – Marsh Babies

There are all types of babies in the marsh at DEEC right now! Ducklings zoom after their parents, goslings practice walking, fox kits play around, and many kinds of baby birds grow bigger and stronger each day.

Beaver Kits

When beaver kits are born, they may only weigh one pound! They’ll stay safe in the lodge for a while, nursing and growing bigger. When they start going out, they ride around on mom’s big, wide tail!

Young beavers stay to help with next year’s litter of kits. They’re called “yearlings”.

Getting’ Crafty

Duck Craft for Preschoolers and Kids

  1. Gather construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue. Get baking cups or feathers if you can.
  2. Cut out a brown circle the size of your palm, and a green circle that’s a little smaller.
  3. Cut out two finger holes in the brown circle. Cut out an orange beak. Fold up two baking cups into quarters, or grab two feathers.
  4. Glue it all together! Draw on eyes or glue on googly eyes. Your ducking is ready to go!

Time to Explore

Grab your shoes and let’s get outside!

Go on a search for animal babies! Start by going to a creek or pond and look for ducklings and goslings. You might see a mallard duck mom (they’re all brown!) swimming close to shore with several little ducklings following her. What other animal babies do you see?

Printable Activity Sheets »

Friday May 1 – Fast and Slow

Let’s talk about different ways turtles can move! Here in Delaware we have a few kinds of turtles that live in water and on land! Each kind of turtle is has a special design for where they live.

Box Turtles Live on Land!

To help them they have long/strong claws on their feet for digging and walking! Box turtles are great at hiding with a shell that closes up tight – just like a box!

Painted Turtles love to hang out in water. They swim fast with the help of webbed feet and a flat shell! Hold up your hand and imagine you have skin in between each finger. That’s what its like to have webbed feet!

Getting’ Crafty

Turtle Craft for Preschoolers and Kids

  1. Cut out one section from an egg carton and color. Here’s your shell!
  2. Place your shell on a piece of paper and trace its outline
  3. Draw four legs, a head, and a tail to your outline
  4. Color and cut out your turtle
  5. Glue your shell to the paper outline and let dry

Voila! A new turtle friend!

Storytime: The Foolish Tortoise
by Eric Carle

Time to Explore

You can find turtles in many places outside! Look in a meadow or on the forest floor for a Box Turtle. Check out the edges of a pond or marsh to find a Painted Turtle. You might even find one basking in the sun on a log!

Printable Activity Sheets »

Tuesday April 28 – Stomp, Leap, Hop

Let’s talk about the way animals move! Some move fast or slow, some slither and others hop.Birds can fly in the sky and walk around, some turtles can swim in water and walk on land. can you think of ways other animals move

Let’s Get Moving

Let’s think about all the ways YOU can move too.

Grab some chalk and head outside. Draw a course that will help you get moving!

Here are some ideas:

  • Draw a curvy line to slither like a snake
  • Stretch your arms out wide to fly like a bird!
  • Draw dots to hop like a frog

Too much rain? try this inside with tape instead of chalk!

Time to Explore

Take a walk in your neighborhood or a nearby park. Look around for animals on the move. Can you move like them too?

Printable Activity Sheets »

Storytime: The Animal Boogie

Friday April 24 – Earthworms Deep Down in the Dirt

Meet our Soil Superhero: The Earthworm

Deep down in the dirt, earthworms live in the dark, damp soil. Worms love to eat on the move! They are the clean-up team, eating leftovers while they bulldoze new underground tunnels. They help move soil from place to place!

What is Soil?

Did you know that soil is another word for dirt? Meet the earthworm superheroes in my backyard turning leftovers into soil.

Build a Worm Home

Step 1: Ask an adult to cut the top off a soda bottle. Tape the sharp edges. Put small air holes in the top.

Step 2: If you have small rocks, add enough inside to cover the bottom of the bottle.

Step 3: Create layers of different soils. First add 2 inches of sand, then add 2 inches of garden soil. Now spray just a little water on top.

Step 4: Add a layer of fruit or vege scraps like a banana peel. NO citrus, meat or dairy! Repeat step 3.

Step 5: Add 4-6 earthworms. Tape the bottle top back on the bottom.

Step 6 & Wait: Cover the bottle in black paper. Leave for 2-3 days …no peaking! Did you wait? Remove the paper and look inside. Did the worms make any tunnels? Have the soil layers moved and mixed? Earthworms at work! Return your superheroes back to the garden.

Let’s Explore

Meet Dylan. He is finding earthworms for his garden. Look for earthworms in your backyard under leaves or underground. Ask an adult to dig up some soil. When you find a worm, let it move on your hand. How does it feel? How long is it? Do you see the rings called segments? A worm needs to stay moist, so return to its home in the soil.

Printable Activity Sheets »

Earthworm Composting

Storytime: Yucky Worms
By Vivian French

Tuesday April 21 – What’s the Buzz

Outside, you may notice that bees are busy buzzing around the first spring flowers.

Bees Are Insects

That means they have Six Legs, Three Body Parts, Antennae, and Wings.

Honeybees and Native Bees are Important Pollinators

Most of the Fruits and Vegetables that we eat come from a plant being pollinated!

Honey Cookie Recipe »

Printable Activity Sheets »

Storytime: Are You A Bee?
By Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries

Why Bees Swarm

Friday April 17 – Peeping Frogs and Swimming Tadpoles

Spring is an important time for frogs and toads. Each spring frogs and toads gather in ponds, marshes, and even puddles to find a partner and lay eggs. All season you can hear these noisy boys singing to find a lady. Remember only boy frogs and toads make noise!

A Frog’s Life

Female frogs lay hundreds of eggs!
Tadpoles hatch out of the frog eggs and eat plants and algae as they grow!
Tadpoles start to grow legs as they get older. First back legs and then front legs grow!
Now our tadpole looks like a frog. It’s ready to grow into an adult and live on land!
After tadpoles grow legs their tail begins to shrink until it disappears!

Find out how to make a frog life cycle you can eat!

Time to Explore

Frogs are out and about all spring long! take a walk around any still body of water like a pond or a marsh. Can you hear frogs calling? Can you see frogs jumping on the edge? Look in the water to find tadpoles or eggs too! Can you find frog eggs near your house too?

Printable Activity Sheets

View Toad Time Activity Sheets

Toad Time by Jim White

Storytime: The Teeny Weeny Tadpole by Sheridan Cane

Tuesday April 14 – Welcome Back, Ospreys!

As the weather warms up, ospreys migrate back up from the south to nest for springtime. Each pair of ospreys will raise one chick – by summer, it’ll be flying around on its own! DEEC’s ospreys aren’t on their nest now, though – someone else is! Two great horned owls are using the nest to raise two little owlets, so the ospreys are nesting nearby.

First, there was Mama Great Horned Owl… Then there were mama and babies!

Gettin’ Crafty

Step One: Let’s make a nest! think like a bird and look outside for nest materials.

Step Two: You can gather big sticks, small twigs, leaves, grasses, moss, or anything else you find!

Step Three: Building time! Make a circle with your biggest sticks. Add smaller twigs to fill in the inside, and your softest stuff right in the middle.

Step Four: Ta-da! Your nest is ready for springtime. Add your own eggs with painted rocks or pine cones!

Time to Explore

Grab your shoes and let’s get outside!

Birds like to build nests in all kinds of places. you may not have an osprey nesting in your neighborhood, but you might find sparrows, robins, and other kinds of birds nearby! take a walk in your neighborhood and look for nests. Some might be nestled in tree branches, some might be on the outside on people’s houses! Keep count of how many nests you see!

Storytime: Tippy the Owl by Singer/Songwriter Ericka Corban

Printable Activity Cards

Friday April 10 – What Makes a Bird a Bird?

Tuesday April 7 – Toad Time

It’s Toad Time!

The weather is getting warmer and Toads are coming back out to play. Did you know Toads hibernate during the winter? This means they find a warm, safe place to sleep when it gets cold and fall into a deep sleep all winter long. Toads like to make a bed in mud, at the bottom of a pond, inside a log, tucked in a blanket of leaves, or even buried in the ground.

Did you know only boy toads make noise? Check out this video to hear a male toad’s chirp!

Gettin’ Crafty

Let’s make a safe place for a toad to hide.
A toad abode for your backyard!
Step 1: Grab an old flower pot, recycled food container, or even a few rocks!

Step 2: create space for a toad to get in and hide. Cut a door, turn it on its side , or stack your rocks into a fort

Step 3: Decorate your materials any way you want! Use paint, collect natural materials from outside, or anything else you have laying around the house.

Step 4: Find a shady place for your house. Lay some leaves or dirt inside and viola! A toad abode!

Step 5: Water everyday to keep damp and attract toads!

Time to Explore

Toads love to hide in damp spots where they blend in. This is called camouflage. Check out the toad from our video. What colors do you see on him? The brown, black, and tan colors help him camouflage on the forest floor! Find a place at a park or in your yard that a toad might be hiding. Look under leaves, inside a log, even look under a porch or in your garden. Don’t forget to check your toad abode for one too!

Toad Chirping at Ashland Nature Center

Storytime: Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Printable Activity Cards

Friday April 3 – Wake Up Farm

Coverdale Farm Signs of Spring

Spring is such a magical time at Coverdale Farm!The land is turning green, our first vegetables are sprouting, and we are patiently waiting for our farm babies to be delivered! Get outside and discover signs of spring in your own backyard!

Storytime: Wake Up, Farm! by Alvin Tresselt

Printable Activity Cards

Tuesday March 31 – Simply Egg-celent

Learn About Eggs

Eggs are laid by female animals of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and even some mammals! Animals that lay eggs are called oviparous (o-vip-a-rous). The egg shell protects the young animal while the yolk nourishes it until it is ready to hatch!At Coverdale we raise two oviparous animals. Can you name them?

Coverdale raises both Chickens and Turkeys. Chickens and turkeys both lay eggs, making them oviparous! Our Chickens lay a beautiful array of eggs in all different colors! Hues of white, cream, browns, greens and even blues!

Recipe: Mini Egg Quiches

Go to Mini Egg Quiche Recipe

Collect Eggs With Maggie

Storytime: Chickens Aren’t The Only Ones by Ruth Heller

Printable Activity Cards

Friday March 27 – Something Fishy Activity

There’s something fishy here!

When it gets warm outside, fish swim up to the surface of lakes, ponds, and rivers to say hello. They are looking for food to eat, like plants, insects, or even smaller fish! fish don’t want to be someone else’s snack, though, so they have a few tricks to keep from getting caught by bigger animals. they might have hiding places under rocks or plants, or have colors or patterns that help them blend in.

Gettin’ Crafty

Step 1: Gather cardstock, aluminum foil, scissors, tape, and markers

Step 2: Cut a fish shape out of cardstock. it can be round, long and narrow, or anything you want!

Step 3: Wrap your fish in foil and decorate with markers. draw eyes, fins, stripes, spots, or scales!

Step 4: Give your fish a name. Make more for a School of fish counting game!

Bonus: You can also make a mobile of foil fishes and hang us up in a window. our shimmery scales look so good in the sunlight!

Time To Explore

Grab your shoes and let’s get outside!

Go explore a pond, stream, or river near your house. Look at the edge of the water, around rocks or plants, and right at the surface.

What do you see?

Printable Activity Cards