top of page
Our Nature Story
This project began as a summer reading project was made possible in part by a grant from the RI Office of Library and Information Services using funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. From there it grew to an online story of how we utilize our garden and outdoor space as well as the environmental literacy projects we participate in and promote as part of the STEM learning movement.
Project FeederWatch is a citizen scientist program created by Cornell University's Lab of Ornithologoy and Birds Canada. It provides an opportunity for citizens to count and log the types of birds that visit their feeders during the winter (November - April). Those numbers are then available for scientists with the program to monitor bird species population, migration and distribution.
For more information click the image above.
The North Smithfield Library has been participating in Project FeederWatch since the fall of 2019. Kids and adults have been able to watch our feeders, discover new species, learn how to count and assist the library with count data that is submitted to the project.
On Your Own Activities
Great Gnome Hunt
A few gnomes have moved into the garden. These fun little fellows with their unique hats are keeping watch over out plants and keeping a close eye on those plant eating creatures. How many of them can you find?
This is just like any other walk or hike that you would go on, with the exception that every so many paces you need to stop and look around. When you stop remember to not only look around you but look up and look down. See the things that are over your head and under your feet. If necessary and possible get up close and really look at things. Look at the leaves, flowers, moss and try to notice things you have seen before. Ask questions (its okay if you don't have answers you can always find out at the library). Take a nature sheet with you to jot down the things you want to find out, remember something amazing. You can get a nature sheets here.
Explore the life in your backyard. Be a scientist and do an inventory of all the living creatures in your yard. For instructions and species identification card, visit National Geographic's website by clicking here. Or visit KidsGardening.org for a Wildlife Inventory
Build a Garden Map
Whether you want to lay out a new garden or map our current garden, this is a great activity for drawing, math and spatial skills. You could draw or make a 3D model. It could be simple or for older kids take it a step further and learn to draw to scale. For more information on creating a garden map visit ThePinkWheelbarrow.com by clicking here.
Discover more about nature's essential workers: pollinators. Who are they, what do they do and how can we help them? In this activity you'll be observing the garden visitors and discovering what attracts them to the garden? Is it the purple flowers? The red? What do they do inside each flower? Do they stay any longer at on or the other? Use your journal to keep track and learn all about these little helpers. To find out more about this activity visit KidsGardening.org by clicking here. To download KidsGardening's Pollinator Journal and learning guide click here.
This game requires 2 people. One person is the photographer and the other is the camera. The photographer leads the camera (who has their eyes closed) on a search for images they wish to capture (remember). They carefully position the camera to see just what they want. Then tap the camera twice on the shoulder at which point the camera opens their eyes and studies what they've been pointed at. The photographer must silently count to three and then tap the camera on the should again making the camera close its eyes. The move onto another picture. While walking it is best to be quiet only talking to make sure the camera is carefully led. After 3 or 4 pictures stop and have the camera draw what it remembers seeing of each picture. Is it what the photographer thought the picture would be? Now trade roles.
Take a hike, but instead of just looking at things, use your senses other than your eyes to appreciate where your going. Can you hear the crunching of the trail beneath your feet, feel the wind on your face, hear the sounds of creatures moving, touch how a tree feels or a brush of a bush. If you need you can print out or sensory hike bingo chart to take with you to help you remember to use more than your eyes just click here.
Soil Stories (library to go)
Dirt, it's great for digging but have you ever wondered about what dirt really is? Through these stories and activities you'll discover why dirt is so great.
Butterfly Life Cycle (library to go)
Learn the life cycle of the butterfly. Raise a caterpillar into a butterfly with your own home-made butterfly house and discover the joy of releasing a butterfly.
Apple Bird Feeder
Materials: 1 apple (best with stem), 1 cup of peanut butter or vegetable shortening, 2 cups bird seed, 1 piece of cording, bowl spoon.
1. Core your apple then cut the apple in half (best done by or with a grownup)
2. Scoop out a cavity space in your apple (don't scoop out all the flesh leave some for the birds to nibble).
3. Set aside a spoonful of the peanut butter/shortening. In a bowl mix together the rest of the peanut butter/shortening and your bird seed.
4. Using the spoonful of peasnut butter/shortening you set aside, spread that over your apple halves.
5. Then pack the apple cavity with the mixed seed spread.
6. Set the apples into the fridge for about 1 to 2 hours to harden.
7. Tie the cording tightly to the stem of teh apple and hang your apple feeder in a tree.
8. If your apple doesn't have a stem or you don't have cord, that's okay you can still place your feeder somewhere outside for the birds to enjoy. We recommend resting it in the crook of a branch or in a bush.
9. Then sit back and watch your bird and other backyard critters enjoy their snack.
Interview with Mother Nature
This journal exercise is great for those kids who have an interest in writing. Pick something that belongs to mother nature (it's best to pick something that isn't going to move a whole lot but if you do remember you only have a short period to study it). Now get to know that item using our senses. How does it feel? Does it make noise? What does it look like? Once you've gotten to know your item pretend to interview it. Click here for interview questions if you need some inspiration. Right down the answers you think your item would give. For more inspiration on observing and writing about nature click here.
A nature journal combines writing, drawing, observation and thoughts and feelings. Its a way to express yourself as you feel in the moment and remember what inspires you. For more on how to nature journal click here.
The best way to explore the world of an insect is to take a micro hike. You will need string, scissors, magnifying glass (optional), piece of paper, writing instrument.
First cut the string the length of the person taking the hike (use the string to measure head to foot and cut). Then lay the string down anywhere on the ground - in the grass, in a garden, among some trees. You can make the string straight, let it curl, however you want. On the piece of paper draw a layout of how your string is laid out. Now let's go on a hike - get down your hands and knees and follow the string. Look at the grass on both sides of your string, use a magnifying glass, feel free to move the grass aside or lift a leaf. When you find something you think is interesting mark it on your paper about where you are on your string. What did you see? Did you see any insects? What were they doing? Continue this all the way to the end of the string.
For more information and activities visit Nature Passport here.
Proboscis (Nose) Game
This guessing game is so much fun. It starts with general clues that could be any animal and as they progress the clues become more specific until the answer is obvious. Now to guess the animal you don't shout out the answer instead if you think you know the answer you put your finger on your nose. If you've guessed wrong find a way to cover up having your finger on your nose but scratching your chin, or cover a pretend cough. Sometimes its just as much fun covering up a nose signal as it is guessing the right creature. To access the clues we've created click here. Hint all our creatures can be found in gardens.
Materials: an undisturbed place to sit, paper, pencil/pen.
Find a comfortable place to sit. On you piece of paper place an x in the center. Now sit with your eyes closed and listen. What sounds do you hear? Are they to your left or right? behind or in front? When you hear sounds take just a peep at your paper and mark it on your map where you heard the sound. You can draw it or just write it. Then close your eyes and return to listening. You've just created a map of this place using sound.
Seeds in Soil (library to go)
Explore the power of seeds. From something so tiny can grow something amazing! Have you ever wondered how? Let's find out!
On your own
Please be aware, the North Smithfield Public Library does not endorse any of the places listed below. They are just a list of resources that we found helpful in our own research of this topic.
Tinkergarten is an outdoor learning company that brings families together in nature and encourages learning through play. Their blog contains wonderful advise and information on early learning, parenting and outdoor play to help families feel more comfortable with nature learning.To view the blog, click the logo above.
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's Great Outdoors Pursuit is a a summer long program design to encourage kids and their families to get out doors and be active. As well as to encourage the exploration of state parks and natural areas.To find out more about this program, click the logo above.
Free Forest School
Free Forest School is a global organization encourages children and their adult to explore free play in nature during their formidable years. Their blog contains information on the outdoor classroom movement, early childhood development all wrapped up in nature play. They also have an online community, Our Outdoors, designed to help you get your kids outdoorsTo view theses please click the logo above.
Letterboxing: RI State Parks
This fun treasuring hunt activity can be found nationwide, and the state parks of RI have just joined in the fun. All you need is a notebook and a family stamp (any stamp your family likes will do). This is a great outdoor activity to do with the whole family and a great way to explore the wonderful parks in RI.To find out more about this program, click the logo above. To find out more about letterboxing, click here. Did you know the library is a letterboxing location? Just ask the youth services librarian.
This website is dedicated to "helping people of all ages deepen their relationship with nature." Their mission is "a worldwide movement dedicated to helping children and adults deepen their relationship with nature." To find some of their activities and for more information click the image above.
Explore RI's blueways and greenways. Whether you wish to paddle the many waterways of RI or walk the many trails across the state this is the site to visit to plan your getaway. To find out more and visit the site click the logo above.
To learn more about RI Walks visit the ExploreRI website or visit the RI Walks website here. At RI Walks you can also discover more about the RI Walks Challenge to find the 30 nature inspired creatures housed on trails across RI.
bottom of page