Twigs & Stems // April 2018

Here are a few links from around the web that caught our attention in recent weeks. Have you seen something that stuck with you that you'd like to share? Post it in the comments! Love what you see here? Follow us on Facebook, as we often post these goodies as we find them. 

  Tips for Hiking With Older Kids

Tips for Hiking With Older Kids

Coming Up: 5 Days of Spring Break Fun at The Nature Museum

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Welcome to April, the month of mud season, spring break, warmer weather, and Earth Day! Creatures big and small begin to stretch and prepare for the busy spring season. Salamanders, frogs, and toads wake up from their long winter rest, and the forest fills with the sound of peepers in the trees. Children pull on their rain boots and splash in the mud, their laughter and the squishing sound of dirt and water resonating through windows cracked open for fresh air. Above, the skies fill as feathered friends return to the Northeast, migrating home after a winter in warmer areas. This is a month of rain and of reawakening, and the sounds, sights, and smells are a wonderful chance to reconnect with the beauty of the world around us.

For young children, this exploration of the natural world through their five senses is an important developmental opportunity. April is also the Month of the Young Child. This nationally-recognized campaign was spearheaded by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 1971 and is an opportunity to focus on the needs of young children and to recognize the early childhood services that meet those needs. Scientific studies continue to demonstrate that time outside, interacting with the natural world, is critical to the healthy development of young brains. Outdoor programs for kids are an incredibly important service that helps our young citizens develop and grow.


What better time to begin this nourishing connection to nature than in honor of Earth Day? In celebration of Earth Day, of the coming spring weather, and of the Month of the Young Child, we are offering five days of interactive environmental programs over spring break! In addition to our regular visiting hours, we invite you to join our environmental educators every day from Tuesday, April 17th to Saturday, April 21st for special nature programs that will be fun for all ages. Saturday will include a special Abenaki and Nature program in honor of Earth Day.

Guided programs include “Eagles, Hawks, & Owls: Predators of the Sky” and “Boom! Flash! Recipes for Thunderstorms.” After the programs, we invite you to explore the Museum: crawl through an underground bear den, dig for fossils, and dress up as your favorite wild creature. Get outside with a trail map, try out a nature exploration kit, or go on a scavenger hunt with your family.

We believe that everybody deserves the opportunity to learn, enjoy, and explore their wild side. Therefore, we strive to keep our costs low: Admission to our spring break programs, and to the Museum itself, is by donation. Visiting hours are 10 AM to 4 PM every day from Tuesday, April 17th to Saturday, April 21st. Guided nature programs begin at 11 AM, and the Earth Day Party will be at 11 AM on Saturday, April 21st. We will also extend open hours to include Thursday and Friday for the entire month of April.

Oh, and did I mention that there will be Earth Day Cake?

Our programs are designed to help local families get outside and learn about the landscape, but an adventure is always waiting just outside your door. I encourage you to take this muddy, messy, beautiful season as an opportunity to go outdoors with your family and make memories which you and your children will treasure for years to come.

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13 Ways to Enjoy Nature This Spring with Your Kids

With a snowstorm bearing down on us, we recently turned to our Facebook community for forward-thinking ideas for getting outside with kids once the snow has melted. We asked, “What is your favorite way to connect with the kids in your life outside in the spring?”

To sweeten the deal, we offered each contributor a chance to win a bubble making kit. Congratulations Kirstin Mack for winning this bubbly sweepstakes!

Parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, teachers, and friends responded with a wide variety of ways to enjoy the beauty of our landscape in spring with young explorers:

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These family memories are more than fun excursions into the fields and forests that surround us. When we encourage our young children to be curious, to explore, to touch, and to ask “Why?” about the world around them, we offer opportunities for brain development, for confidence and skill building, and for a connection with nature. In an age of touch screens and social media, so many of our young citizens are discovering their identities in a digital world. By encouraging and nourishing a strong connection to the physical, living, breathing planet around them, we help our children develop healthy and happy habits.

We were on WOOL! Listen to our interview with Judith Schwartz and Carrie King

Last week Executive Director Carrie King recorded an interview with Judith Schwartz to air on WOOL-FM. If you missed its airing, it's now available online through WOOL's YouTube channel.

Hopeful, positive, potential—we are fascinated and inspired by Schwartz's take on what to do next to combat climate change with a firm eye on the health of our soil. 

Her talk in Chester was scheduled to be Thursday, March 8th, but due to the snowstorm, this event was moved to next Thursday, March 15th at 7PM. This event is by suggested donation and tickets are available here on our website. 

Wild Walkers Photo Recap: Learning Primitive Skills with Vermont Wilderness School


Our most recent Wild Walkers Camp over winter break was a great success with campers ages 10-14 learning new skills and reconnecting with the outdoors. We were so pleased to have Amy Hyatt from The Vermont Wilderness School return to lead our campers through a day of learning and practicing primitive skills.

The day began with the group lighting a fire without the use of an open flame. Once their fire was lit, Amy gave campers a knife-safety lesson followed by instruction on wood whittling. As the fire's coals began to get red and hot, campers were introduced to the age-old coal-burning method used to create many things including spoons, bowls, and even canoes.

Campers were given the task of creating their own coal-burned spoons and bowls if they chose. For the next several hours, every camper worked tirelessly whittling, burning, scraping, sanding, and oiling their bowls. In between their work, we enjoyed lunch at the snow-buried picnic tables, a snowball fight, sled-riding, and pop-up tag.

As we came to the end of the day, and the campers' work was wrapping up, Amy gave campers a cooking lesson. Campers helped in the preparation of ingredients to create a fire-baked apple crisp dish. Some campers were even able to use their new bowls and spoons to indulge in this sweet fire-baked treat! We came together for our ending circle-time, sharing highlights of the day and something we were all grateful for. Campers left dirty from their work, proud of their bowls and spoons, and smiling from a day immersed in the outdoors.

We hope to offer our next Wild Walkers program this summer; stay tuned! 

Twigs & Stems // March 2018

Here are a few links from around the web that caught our attention in recent weeks. Have you seen something that stuck with you that you'd like to share? Post it in the comments! Love what you see here? Follow us on Facebook, as we often post these goodies as we find them. 

 Cosmic Dawn,   AP News

Cosmic Dawn, AP News

Judith Schwartz wants to change the way you look at water — and climate change

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Join us Thursday evening for an exciting discussion with author Judith Schwartz, “Climate Solutions in Plain Sight: The Role of Water”. Schwartz, author of Cows Change the Planet and Water in Plain Sight contends that by allying with the water cycle, we can revive lush, productive landscapes. 

During this talk, Schwartz will share examples from around the world of water innovators and the fascinating relationship between the water cycle and climate change. 

In the run-up to this thought-provoking event, we've including a shortlist of recommended "reads" and "watches" for Thursday's attendees. Purchase your tickets in advance and you'll receive a confirmation e-mail with these recommendations. 

Schwartz's The Guardian article from April 2017 is a solid place to start for an overview of how she perceives the climate change debate. In that opinion piece, she urges us to move away from the idea that it can be summed up in a single story with a single culprit and solution. It is much more complex than that.

Another Successful Brave Bears Camp

With a slew of free programming offered during spring break and our summer Brave Bears camp sessions announced, we here at The Nature Museum are eager and ready for the increased opportunities to be outside as the weather warms up. We hope you can join us!

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The Nature Museum hosted our Brave Bears Winter Camp on February 21st and 22nd; both days were packed with fun despite the February thaw that happened on day one and the return of winter on day two. 

After starting the day with an opening circle, campers donned snowshoes and set out as a group to the "fort-building forest". Upon arriving at their destination they played several rounds of the game "Camouflage"; this tested campers' senses as they took turns being the "bobcat" and finding the hidden "prey" who sneakily kept an eye on the bobcat while in hiding. This activity was also fruitful in giving campers an early opportunity to stake out areas that had real fort or fairy house potential. After the game, campers had ample time to explore, build those forts and fairy houses, and inspect some interesting ice formations.

After lunch back at the museum, campers learned about animals in winter, fur, feather, and bones by inspecting various pelts, bones, skulls, feet, and feathers. Afternoon options included open exploration time of the museum and craft-making.

As a group campers chose their final activities outside and for both days, sled riding, snow play, and independent games in the garden were the chosen activities for the afternoon. During closing circle at the end of the day, each camper and educator shared one highlight of the day and one thing they were grateful for. Despite the very different conditions of each day, camper and educators had a blast enjoying the day in so many ways.

Our Brave Bears camps are grounded in the belief that its vital to give kids a chance to connect with nature through play and open-ended exploration with their peers. And this session was no exception!

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