Printable spring scavenger hunt

April 1, 2019

It’s officially spring, and that means that I officially want to get outside. I can’t always get outside, because sometimes the computer ropes me in to work, but I am thankful that I have a job that I get outside more than most. If you’re looking for something to do…

Make your own lava lamp

March 25, 2019

Sometimes we move away from nature-specific principles and teach more general science principles during Dickinson County Nature Center programs. We use science experiments in many of our programs to teach about natural reactions and to help kids learn to hypothesize and test out their theories. (Learn about permeable skin through…

Photo of a coyote

Five Iowa predators

March 25, 2019

As Iowa was settled, its landscape and demographics changed, and that meant that its wildlife changed as well. Many species, such as deer, turkeys, trumpeter swans and bobcats were extirpated or close to extirpation. However, increasingly positive conservation attitudes has helped to bring back many species. Here are some of…

Photo of kids watching a mud volcano

Build a mud volcano

March 18, 2019

If it’s springtime and muddy, like it is in Iowa right now, it’s the perfect time to get outside! Just wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, and put your imagination to work with all of the fun mud around. If you need a little inspiration, try making a…

Photo of a swamp

Four types of wetlands

March 18, 2019

Bog, marsh, swamp, fen. Often these words are used interchangeably, but in reality, each is its own type of wetland, which is a word used to refer to water-saturated landscapes. (Watch: What is a wetland?) A marsh is a wetland that is continually full of water. If you have been…

Photo of a colored winter scene

Spring and winter coloring page

March 11, 2019

When you sit down to color a picture, it’s usually pretty obvious what you’re coloring. What’s fun about folding pictures is that you have to finish it before you can see exactly what you’ve done. As we transition from winter into spring, we thought it would be timely to create…

Graphic that says spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush

What is spring?

March 11, 2019

The sunshine is more powerful and begins to melt the snowy walk, although the slush freezes again at night. The days lengthen, but Daylights Savings Time makes the more morning come later. Birds start their journeys north, but have to stop and wait for a few more days before they…

Photo of a least weasel

Mink, ermine or weasel? We can help you tell the difference

March 4, 2019

Although creatures in the weasel family are often just called weasels, they are actually split up into a variety of species. You might be seeing an ermine, otherwise known as a stoat or short-tailed weasel, (Mustela erminea), the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) or a mink (Mustela vison). If you see…

Photo of marbled paper

Marbled paper craft

March 4, 2019

The first session of No School Day Camp was so much fun, and we’re excited for our sold-out second session in a couple of weeks. During the 2019 No School Day Camp, kids were able to make marbled paper, which is a simple craft that you can do at home…

Photo of a red-breasted nuthatch

Iowa winter birds

February 27, 2019

Pine siskins, purple finches, dark-eyed juncos, American tree sparrows — these Iowa winter birds are really only just a few of the birds that make winter a bit more fun in this cold state. 1. Red-breasted nuthatch Red-breasted nuthatches live year-round in many parts of the western United States and…

Photo of completed template

Fabric paint window decal

February 27, 2019

Sometimes you go through the craft supplies and wonder how to use up the excess that you have. Let’s say you bought some puffy fabric paint to make a costume for Halloween, an ugly Christmas sweater or for a play one of your kids was putting on for school. (Have…

Photo of a snake swallowing a mouse

How a snake breathes while it eats

February 26, 2019

Just because they work for a conservation board doesn’t mean that naturalists know everything. Just last week, naturalist Ashley Hansen was feeding Rosie the corn snake when she noticed a hole open up in the snake’s mouth while it was eating a mouse — the Dickinson County Nature Center snakes…