Winter #73 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A January treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

” A Flake Filled Lump on a Limb “

Bonus Winter White

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 6 – Striped Chipmunk and His Cousins


Chapter 6

Striped Chipmunk and His Cousins


News travels quickly through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows, so it was not surprising that Striped Chipmunk heard all about the learning adventures Mother Nature was providing. The next morning, just as the daily session was beginning, Striped Chipmunk came hurrying up, quite out of breath.

“Well, well! See who’s here!” exclaimed Mother Nature. “What have you come for, Striped Chipmunk?”

“I’ve come to try to learn. Will you let me stay, Mother Nature?” replied Striped Chipmunk.

“Of course you may stay,” Mother Nature said heartily. “I am ever so glad you have come to join us, especially today, because this session is to be about you and your cousins. Now, Peter Rabbit, what are the differences between Striped Chipmunk and his cousins, the Tree Squirrels?”

Peter looked very hard at Striped Chipmunk as if he had never really seen him before. “He is smaller than they are,” began Peter. “In fact, he is the smallest Squirrel I know.” Peter paused.

Mother Nature nodded encouragingly. “Go on,” she said.

“He wears a striped coat,” continued Peter. “The stripes are black and yellowish-white and run along his sides and there is a black stripe running down the middle of his back. The rest of his coat is reddish-brown above and light underneath. His tail is rather thin and flat. I never see him in the trees, so I guess he can’t climb.”

“Oh, yes, actually I can,” interjected Striped Chipmunk. “I can climb if I want to, and I do sometimes, however I really prefer to be on the ground.”

“Thank you,” said Mother Nature, “go on Peter.”

“He seems to like old stone walls and rock piles,” continued Peter, “and he is one of the brightest, liveliest, merriest of four legged folks in the Green Forest.”

“Thank you, Peter,” said Striped Chipmunk softly.

Striped Chipmunk illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“I never have been able to find his home though,” continued Peter. “That is one of his secrets. I do know it is in the ground. I guess this is all I know about him. I should say the chief difference between Striped Chipmunk and the Tree Squirrels is that he spends most all his time on the ground while the others live largely in the trees.”

“Nicely done, Peter,” said Mother Nature. “There are two very important differences which you have not mentioned. Striped Chipmunk has a big pocket on the inside of each cheek, while his cousins of the trees have no pockets at all.”

“Oh, of course,” Peter nodded in agreement. “I don’t see how I forget that. I’ve laughed so many times at Striped Chipmunk with those pockets stuffed with nuts or seeds until his head looked three times bigger than it does now. Those pockets must be very handy.”

“They are,” replied Striped Chipmunk. “I couldn’t get along without them. They save me a lot of running back and forth.”

“And the other great difference,” said Mother Nature, “is that Striped Chipmunk sleeps nearly all winter, just waking up occasionally to pop his head out on a bright day to see how the weather is. A great many folks call Striped Chipmunk a Ground Squirrel, when he is more properly called a Rock Squirrel because he likes stony places best. Supposing, Striped Chipmunk, you tell us where and how you make your home.”

“Sure, I make my home down in the ground,” replied Striped Chipmunk. “I dig a tunnel just big enough to run along comfortably. Down deep enough to be out of reach of Jack Frost I make a nice little bedroom with a bed of grass and leaves, and I make another little room for a storeroom in which to keep my supply of seeds and nuts. Sometimes I have more than one storeroom. Also I have some little side tunnels.”

“So why is it I never have been able to find the entrance to your tunnel?” asked Peter, as full of curiosity as ever.

“Because I have it hidden underneath the stone wall on the edge of the Old Orchard,” replied Striped Chipmunk.

“Even so, I would think that all the sand you must have taken out would give your secret away,” Peter said with great curiosity.

Striped Chipmunk chuckled happily. It was a throaty little chuckle, pleasant to hear. “I looked out for that,” he said. “There isn’t a grain of that sand around my doorway. I took it all out through another hole some distance away, a sort of back door, and then closed it up solidly. If you please, Mother Nature, if I am not a Ground Squirrel, who is?

Spermophile or Ground Squirrel illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Your cousin, Seek Seek the Spermophile, sometimes called Gopher Squirrel, who lives on the open plains of the West where there are no rocks or stones,” said Mother Nature. “He likes the flat, open country best. He is called Spermophile because that means seed eater, and he lives largely on seeds, especially on grain. Because of this he does a great deal of damage to crops and is often disliked by the farmers.

“Seek Seek’s family are the true Ground Squirrels. Please remember that they never should be called Gophers, for they are not Gophers. One of the smallest members of the family is just about your size, Striped Chipmunk, and he also wears stripes, only he has more of them than you have, and they are broken up into little dots. He is called the Thirteen-lined Spermophile. He has pockets in his cheeks just as you have, and he makes a home down in the ground very similar to yours. All the family do this, and all of them sleep through the winter. While they are great seed eaters they also eat a great many insects and worms.”

“Some members of the family are almost as big as Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel and have gray coats. They are called Gray Ground Squirrels and sometimes Gray Gophers. One of the largest of these is the California Ground Squirrel. He has a big, bushy tail, very like Happy Jack’s. He gets into so much mischief in the grain fields and in the orchards that he is quite as much disliked as is Jack Rabbit. This particular member of the family is quite as much at home among rocks and tree roots as in open ground. He climbs low trees for fruit and nuts and also prefers to stay on the ground. Now just remember that the Chipmunks are Rock Squirrels and their cousins the Spermophiles are Ground Squirrels.

California Ground Squirrel illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Now who of you has seen Timmy the Flying Squirrel lately?” asked Mother Nature with a twinkle in her eye.

“Not me,” said Peter Rabbit.

“I haven’t,” said Striped Chipmunk.

“Not me,” said Happy Jack.

“Me neither,” said Chatterer.

“I have,” spoke up Jumper the Hare. “I saw him last evening just after jolly, round, red Mr. Sun went to bed behind the Purple Hills and the Black Shadows came creeping through the Green Forest. My, I wish I could fly the way he can!”

Mother Nature shook her head. “Jumper,” she said, “when did you ever see Timmy actually fly?”

“Last night,” insisted Jumper.

“Actually, you didn’t,” Mother Nature said good naturedly. “You didn’t see him fly, for the very good reason that he cannot fly any more than you can. You saw him simply jump. Just remember that the only animals, or mammals, in this great land who can fly are the Bats. Timmy the Flying Squirrel simply jumps from the top of a tree and slides down on the air to the foot of another tree. When he is in the air he never moves his legs or arms, and he is always coming down, never going up, excepting for a little at the end of his jump, as would be the case if he could really fly. He hasn’t any wings.”

“When he’s flying, I mean jumping, he does look as if he had wings,” insisted Jumper.

“That is simply because I have given him a fold of skin between the front and hind leg on each side,” explained Mother Nature. “When he jumps he stretches his legs out flat, and that stretches out those two folds of skin until they look almost like wings. This is the reason he can sail so far when he jumps from a high place. You’ve seen a bird, after flapping its wings to get going, sail along with them outstretched and motionless. Timmy does the same thing, only he gets going by jumping. You may have noticed that he usually goes to the top of a tree before jumping; then he can sail down a wonderfully long distance. His tail helps him to keep his balance. If there is anything in the way, he can steer himself around it. When he reaches the tree he is jumping for he shoots up a little way and lands on the trunk not far above the ground. Then he scampers up that tree to do it all over again.”

“Then why don’t we ever see him?” inquired Striped Chipmunk.

“Because, when the rest of you squirrels are out and about, he is curled up in a little ball in his nest, fast asleep. Timmy likes the night, especially the early evening, and doesn’t like the light of day,” said Mother Nature.

“How big is he?” inquired Happy Jack.

Flying Squirrel illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“He is, if anything, a little smaller than Striped Chipmunk,” replied Mother Nature. “Way out in the Far West he grows a little bigger. His coat is a soft yellowish-brown above; beneath he is all white. His fur is wonderfully soft. He has very large, dark, soft eyes, especially suited for seeing at night. Then, he is very lively and dearly loves to play.”

“Does he eat nuts like his cousins?” asked Peter Rabbit.

“He certainly does,” replied Mother Nature. “Also he eats grubs and insects. He dearly loves a fat beetle. He likes meat when he can get it.”

“Where does he make his home?” Peter inquired.

“Usually in a hole in a tree,” said Mother Nature. “He is very fond of an old home of a Woodpecker. He makes a comfortable nest of bark lining, grass, and moss, or any other soft material he can find. Occasionally he builds an outside nest high up in a fork in the branches of a tree. He likes to get into old buildings.”

“Does he have many predators?” asked Happy Jack.

“The same predators the rest of you have,” replied Mother Nature. “The one he has most reason to fear is Hooty the Owl, and that is the one you have least reason to fear, because Hooty seldom hunts by day.”

“Does he sleep all winter?” piped up Striped Chipmunk.

“Not as you do,” said Mother Nature. “In very cold weather he sleeps and if he happens to be living where the weather does not get very cold, he is active all the year around. And so I guess this is enough about the Squirrel family.”

“Oh wait, you’ve forgotten Johnny Chuck,” Peter exclaimed.

Mother Nature laughed. “So I have,” she said. “That will never do. Johnny and his relatives, the Marmots, certainly cannot be overlooked. We will take them for our session tomorrow. Peter, you tell Johnny Chuck to come over here tomorrow morning to join us.”

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. If you have chipmunks in your area take a moment to listen to their chatter and the varying tones. What messages are they sending? Are they content? angry? Can you decipher their way of communicating?
  2. Look for the varying behaviors of chipmunks that may live in parks near city streets vs. chipmunks along the edge of forests. How are their behaviors the same? Are there any differences?
  3. Have you seen a “flying” squirrel? What time of day was it? Did you mistake it for a bat?
  4. *Have you seen a chipmunk on the ground or in a tree? If in a tree, how high up? Do you think the stripes and colors of a chipmunk hide this animal when amongst the grasses and bushes? How many entrances does a chipmunk have to their home? Do they live there year round?

* Asterisk items are inspired by or are questions from the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock – Copyright 1911.

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Winter #72 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A January treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

”  Whispers of a Wing in White ”  

Bonus Winter White WoW!

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 5 – Squirrels of the Trees


Chapter 5

Squirrels of the Trees


Peter Rabbit found Johnny Chuck sitting on his doorstep, sunning himself. Peter was quite out of breath because he had hurried so. “Do you know that you are a Squirrel, Johnny Chuck?” he panted.

Johnny slowly turned his head and looked at Peter as if he thought Peter had suddenly gone crazy. “What are you talking about, Peter Rabbit? I’m not a Squirrel; I’m a Woodchuck,” he replied.

“Just the same, you are a Squirrel,” replied Peter. “The Woodchucks belong to the Squirrel family. Mother Nature says so, and if she says so, it is so. You best join us Johnny Chuck and learn a little about your own relatives.”

Johnny Chuck blinked his eyes and for a minute or two couldn’t find a word to say. He knew that if Peter were telling the truth as to what Mother Nature had said, it must be true that he was member of the Squirrel family. However it was hard to believe. “What is this all about, learning with Mother Nature?” he finally asked.

Peter hastened to tell him. He told Johnny all about what he and Jumper the Hare had learned about their family, and all the surprising things Mother Nature had told them about the Squirrel family, and he ended by again urging Johnny Chuck to join them and promised to call for Johnny the next morning.

Woodchuck illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

However, Johnny Chuck does not like to go far from his own doorstep, so when Peter called the next morning Johnny refused to go, despite all Peter could say. Peter didn’t waste much time arguing for he was afraid he would be late and miss something. When he reached the Green Forest he found his cousin, Jumper the Hare, and Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, already there. As soon as Peter arrived Old Mother Nature began the morning session.

“Happy Jack,” she said, “you may tell us all you know about your cousin, Chatterer.”

“To begin with, he is the smallest of the Tree Squirrels,” said Happy Jack. “He isn’t so very much bigger than Striped Chipmunk, and that means that he is less than half as big as myself. His coat is red and his waistcoat white; his tail is about two-thirds as long as his body and flat and not very broad.”

“He spends more of his time in the trees than I do,” continued Happy Jack, “and is especially fond of pine trees and other cone-bearing trees. He likes the deeper parts of the Green Forest more than I do, though he seems to feel just as much at home on the edge of the Green Forest, especially if it is near a farm where he can get access to corn.”

Red Squirrel illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“I have to admit that Chatterer is thrifty,” continued Happy Jack. “He is very fond of the seeds of cone-bearing trees. He cuts the cones from the trees just before they are ripe. Then they ripen and open on the ground, where he can get at the seeds easily. He often has a number of storehouses and stores up cone seeds, acorns, nuts, and corn when he can get it. He builds a nest of leaves and strips of bark, sometimes in a hollow tree and sometimes high up in the branches of an evergreen tree. He is a good jumper and jumps from tree to tree. He does take some of my stores too.”

“You do the same thing to me when you have the chance, which isn’t often,” sputtered Chatterer.

Happy Jack turned away from Chatterer and continued, “He doesn’t seem to mind cold weather at all, as long as the sun shines. His noisy tongue is to be heard on the coldest days of winter. He sauces and scolds everybody he meets, and every time he opens his mouth he jerks his tail.”

Here Mother Nature spoke up and said, “Happy Jack forgot to mention that you eat s few insects at times. He also forgot to mention that sometimes you have a storehouse down in the ground. Now tell us what you know about your cousin, Happy Jack.”

“Happy Jack is more than twice as big as I,” said Chatterer looking at Happy Jack. “He is gray all over, except underneath, where he is white. He has a tremendously big tail. When he sits up he has a way of folding his hands on his breast. I don’t know what he does it for unless it is to keep them warm in cold weather. He builds a nest very much like mine. Sometimes it is in a hollow tree, although quite as often it is in the branches of a tree. He is a good traveler in the tree tops, and he spends a good deal of his time on the ground as well. He likes open woodland best, especially where there are many nut trees. He has a storehouse where he stores up nuts for winter, and he buries in the ground and under the leaves more than he puts in his storehouse. In winter, when he is hungry, he hunts for those buried nuts, and somehow he manages to find them even when they are covered with snow. ”

Grey Squirrel illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Have you told us all you know about Happy Jack, Chatterer?” asked Mother Nature.

Chatterer nodded. “What you have told us is good as far as it goes,” she said. “You said that Happy Jack is all gray excepting underneath. Usually the Gray Squirrel is just as Chatterer has described him and sometimes a Gray Squirrel isn’t gray at all, rather it can be all black.”

Peter Rabbit’s ears stood straight up with astonishment. “How can a Gray Squirrel be black?” he questioned.

Mother Nature smiled. “That is a fair question, Peter,” she said. “Gray Squirrel is simply the name of Happy Jack’s family. Sometimes some of the babies are born with black coats instead of gray coats. Of course they are just the same kind of Squirrel, only they look different. In some parts of the country there are numbers of these black-coated Squirrels and many think they are a different kind of Squirrel. They are not. They are simply black-coated members of Happy Jack’s family. Just remember this. It is the same way in the family of Rusty the Fox Squirrel. Some members are rusty red, some are a mixture of red and gray, and some are as gray as Happy Jack himself. Way down in the Sunny South Fox Squirrels always have white noses and ears. In the North they never have white noses and ears. Rusty the Fox Squirrel is just a little bigger than Happy Jack and has just such a handsome tail. He is the strongest and heaviest of the Tree Squirrels and not nearly as quick and graceful as Happy Jack. Sometimes Rusty has two nests in the same tree, one in a hollow in a tree for bad weather and the other made of sticks and leaves outside in the branches for use in good weather. Rusty’s habits are very much the same as those of Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, and therefore he likes the same kind of surroundings. Like his cousin, Happy Jack, Rusty is a great help to me.”

Fox Squirrel by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Seeing how surprised everybody looked, Mother Nature explained. “Both Happy Jack and Rusty bury a great many more nuts than they ever need,” she said, “and those they do not dig up sprout in the spring and grow. In that way they plant ever so many trees without knowing it. Very likely Happy Jack’s great-great-ever-so-great grandfather planted the very tree you get your fattest and best hickory nuts from Chatterer.

“Way out in the mountains of the Far West you have a cousin called the Douglas Squirrel, who is really a true Red Squirrel and whose habits are very much like your own. Some folks call him the Pine Squirrel. By the way, Chatterer, Happy Jack forgot to say that you are a good swimmer. Perhaps he didn’t know it.”

By the expression of Happy Jack’s face it was quite clear that he didn’t know it. “Certainly I can swim,” said Chatterer. “I don’t mind the water at all. I can swim a long distance if I have to.”

This was quite as much news to Peter Rabbit as had been the fact that a cousin of his own was a good swimmer.

“Are there any other Tree Squirrels?” asked Jumper the Hare.

“Yes,” replied Mother Nature, “there are two. They live out in the Southwest, in one of the most wonderful places in all this great land, a place called the Grand Canyon. One is called the Abert Squirrel and the other the Kaibab Squirrel. They are about the size of Happy Jack and Rusty and have broader, handsomer tails and their ears have long tufts of hair. The Abert Squirrel has black ears, a brown back, gray sides and white underneath. Kaibab has brown ears with black tips, and his tail is mostly white. Both are very lovely, although their families are small and so they are little known.”

And with this last tidbit Mother Nature moved on with her day.

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Do you have more than one type of squirrel living near to you?
  2. Do you see squirrels at the local park? At a neighbor’s bird feeder? Or in what other locations?
  3. *Observations and Ponderings: What is the food of the squirrel during each season? Where does it store food? Does it steal food from other wildlife? How does it carry nuts? How much squirrel language (or chatter) can you understand for example: surprise, anger, excitement? How many different sounds does it make?

* Asterisk items are inspired by or are questions from the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock – Copyright 1911.

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Winter #65 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A January treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

Which Way did they Wander?

Who? What? Where? When?

Bonus Winter White

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Nature Poop Post #9

A magical moment in any outdoor adventure is to find . . .

SCATBEDOODOO!!!

Who left this behind?


SCATBEDOODOO is a new special P.L.A.Y. combination of two things:

SCAT = animal poop (aka feces)

SCAT = the improvised singing of nonsense syllables in jazz music like bop-doo-wop.


❤ 🙂 ❤

What to do when you find the poo out in the wild:

1-Watch Your Step!

2-Look with your eyes not your hands (no touch!)

3-Draw or take a snapshot of the poop to later decipher which field or forest animal left behind this special clue.

4- Get curious if you like and poke it with a stick to try to figure out what this animal ate. Can you see fur, seeds, grasses, or ???

BONUS P.L.A.Y.  Sing your own verse of SCATBEDOODOO to celebrate discovering which animal has passed this way before you!

❤  🙂 ❤


The authors write in the introduction:

“(this book assists with) . . . the joy of reading stories written in the soil and snow. The fun of nature’s challenge is solving the mysteries written on the trail.”

I highly recommend picking up a copy for your nature library! ~ Karen ;0)


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

SKYscape Simplicity #71: A Mediative Moment

“Spring Flashback – Remember all that greenery!”

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by as you connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.


Wishing you and yours much peace throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.

Winter #64 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A January treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

Simply Sweet Side Snapshot in the Sylvan Setting

BonusSunshine (+forest hues)

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 4 – Red + Gray Squirrels


Chapter 4

Red and Gray Squirrels


Peter Rabbit, on his way to learn more from Mother Nature, was trying to make up his mind about which of his neighbors he would ask to join him. He had learned so many surprising things about his own family that he shrewdly suspected many equally surprising things were to be learned about his neighbors. However, there were so many neighbors he couldn’t decide which one to ask first.

Alas, that matter was settled for him, and in a funny way. Hardly had he reached the edge of the Green Forest when he was hailed by a voice. “Hello, Peter Rabbit!” said this voice. “Where are you bound at this hour of the morning? Usually you are heading for home in the dear Old Briar-patch.”

Peter knew that voice the instant he heard it. It was the voice of Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel. Happy Jack was seated on the top of an old stump, eating a nut. “I’m going to learn,” replied Peter with a great excitement.

“Going to learn, you say?” Happy Jack. “Oh please do tell me who you are going to learn with and what you will be learning.”

“I’m going to learn with Mother Nature,” replied Peter. “I’ve been going for several days, and so has my cousin, Jumper the Hare. We’ve learned a lot about our own family and now we are going to learn about the other little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows.”

“Really?!” exclaimed Happy Jack. “I do think I know allot about my own family although I guess I never really considered knowing about my neighbors too.”

“Is that so?” asked Peter. “I’m curious to know if you actually do know all your own cousins. I thought I knew all of mine and discovered I didn’t.”

Gray Squirrel illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“What are you fellows talking about?” asked another voice. Chatterer the Red Squirrel jumped from one tree to another just above Peter’s head.

“Peter is getting me curious about how much I may not know about our own family” said Happy Jack in a pondering sort of way. “He is on his way to learn with Mother Nature and has advised me to join him.”

“I think it would be fun to go learn for a while , especially about the Squirrel family” Chatterer the Red Squirrel eagerly chimed in. “What do you say, Peter, may I go along with you?”

Peter said that he thought it would be a very fine thing and that Chatterer would not regret it. Chatterer winked at his cousin, Happy Jack, and followed Peter. Chatterer kept up in the trees while Peter was hopping lipperty-lipperty-lip on the ground. Happy Jack hesitated a minute and then, curiosity becoming too much for him, hastened to join the others too.

“Hello!” exclaimed Old Mother Nature, as Happy Jack and Chatterer appeared with Peter Rabbit. “What are you frisky folks doing over here?”

Happy Jack and Chatterer appeared to have lost their tongues, something very unusual for them, especially for Chatterer. The fact is, in the presence of Mother Nature they felt bashful. Peter replied for them. “They’ve decided to come learn too,” he said. “Happy Jack says he feels like knows all about his own family and he has come along to find out if he really does.”

“It won’t take us long to find out,” said Mother Nature softly and her eyes twinkled with amusement. “How many cousins have you, Happy Jack?”

Happy Jack thought for a moment. “Three,” he replied in an unsure way. Peter chuckled to himself as he knew that doubt was already beginning to grow in Happy Jack’s mind.

“Can you name them?” Mother Nature promptly asked.

“Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Timmy the Flying Squirrel, and Striped Chipmunk,” replied Happy Jack.

“He’s forgotten Rusty the Fox Squirrel,” Chatterer inserted, dancing about gleefully.

Happy Jack looked crestfallen and gave Chatterer an angry look.

“That’s right, Chatterer,” said Mother Nature. “Rusty is a very important member of the Squirrel family. Now suppose you name the others.”

“Wha–wha–what others?” stammered Chatterer. “I don’t know of any others.”

Peter Rabbit hugged himself with glee as he watched the faces of Happy Jack and Chatterer. “They don’t know any more about their family than we did about ours,” he whispered in one of the long ears of Jumper the Hare.

As for Mother Nature, she simply smiled. “Put on your thinking caps, you two,” she said. “You have only named half of them. For sure you are not to blame for that, for some of them you have never seen. There is one member of the Squirrel family whom both of you do know very well and yet neither of you named them.”

Red Squirrel Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Chatterer looked at Happy Jack, and Happy Jack looked at Chatterer, and each scratched his head. Each wanted to be the first to think of that other cousin. For although they scratched and scratched their heads, they couldn’t think who that other cousin could be. Mother Nature waited a few minutes before she told them. Then, seeing that either they couldn’t remember or didn’t know, she said, “You didn’t mention Johnny Chuck.”

“Johnny Chuck!” exclaimed Chatterer and Happy Jack together, and the look of surprise on their faces was truly a funny sight to see. For that matter, the looks on the faces of Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare were equally as funny.

Mother Nature nodded. “Johnny Chuck,” she repeated. “He is a member of the Squirrel family. He belongs to the Marmot branch and he is a Squirrel just the same. He is one of your cousins.”

“He’s a mighty funny looking Squirrel,” said Chatterer, jerking his tail as only he can.

Mother Nature looked first at Chatterer and then at Happy Jack. “I think it would be helpful if you both came to learn with me for a while along with Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare. Would that be alright? Now which of you can tell me what order do you all belong to?”

Happy Jack looked at Chatterer, Chatterer looked at Peter Rabbit, and Peter looked at Jumper the Hare. On the face of each was such a funny, puzzled expression that Mother Nature almost laughed right out. Finally Peter Rabbit found his tongue. “If you please,” he said, “I guess we don’t know what you mean by an order.”

“Oh yes, right you are, let me explain.” said Mother Nature. “First, the animals of the Great World are divided into big groups or divisions, and then these groups are divided into smaller groups, and these in turn into still smaller groups. Happy Jack and Chatterer belong to a group called the Squirrel family, and Peter and Jumper to a group called the Hare family. Both of these families and several other families belong to a bigger group called an order, and this order is the order of Gnawers, or Rodents.”

Peter Rabbit fairly jumped up in the air with excitement. “Then Jumper and I must be related to Happy Jack and Chatterer,” he cried.

“In a way you are,” replied Mother Nature. “It isn’t a very close relationship, still you are related. All of you are Rodents. So are all the members of the Rat and Mouse family, the Beaver family, the Porcupine family, the Pocket Gopher family, the Pika family, and the Sewellel family.”


Mother Nature shares classifications: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

By this time Peter’s eyes looked as if they would pop right out of his head. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard of some of those families,” he said. “My, what a lot we have to learn! Is it because all the members of all those families have teeth for gnawing that they are all sort of related?”

Mother Nature looked pleased. “Peter,” she said, “that is exactly why. All the members of all the families I have named belong to the same order, the order of Rodents. All the members have big, cutting, front teeth. Animals without such teeth cannot gnaw. Now, as you and Jumper have learned about your family, it is the turn of Happy Jack and Chatterer to learn about their family. Theirs is rather a large family, and it is divided into three groups, the first of which consists of the true Squirrels, to which group both Happy Jack and Chatterer belong. The second group consists of the Marmots, and Johnny Chuck belongs to this. The third group Timmy the Flying Squirrel has all to himself.”

“Where does Striped Chipmunk come in?” asked Chatterer.

“I’m coming to that,” replied Mother Nature. “The true Squirrels are divided into the Tree Squirrels, Rock Squirrels, and Ground Squirrels. Of course Chatterer and Happy Jack are Tree Squirrels.”

“And Striped Chipmunk is a Ground Squirrel,” Peter inserted.

Mother Nature shook her head. “Actually, no Peter, this is not the case,” she said. “Striped Chipmunk is a Rock Squirrel. Seek Seek the Spermophile who lives on the plains of the West and is often called Gopher Squirrel, is the true Ground Squirrel.”

“And now I must run along,” said Mother Nature. “You little folks enjoy your day and I’ll meet with you all again here tomorrow morning where I shall expect Chatterer to tell me all about Happy Jack, and Happy Jack to tell me all about Chatterer.”

So Peter, Jumper, Chatterer, and Happy Jack thanked Mother Nature for all she had told them and scampered away. Peter headed straight for the far corner of the Orchard where he was sure he would find Johnny Chuck. He couldn’t get there fast enough, for he wanted to be the first to tell Johnny Chuck that he was a Squirrel. You see he didn’t believe that Johnny knew any of this.

This Curious Capkin has created more P.L.A.Y. Ponderings just for you!

Following the prompts below draw, doodle, write, ponder, paint, color, and creatively capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Can you make a long list of what Rodents, or Gnawers, live in your “neck-of-the-woods” or neighborhood?
  2. Do you have squirrels? Do you know which kind? Where they live or rest? What do they eat?
  3. *Observe and Ponder: Does the squirrel trot along or leap when running on the ground? Run straight ahead or stop and look about to see if the “coast is clear”? Does the squirrel have long or short legs? Does it have paws with claws? When climbing a tree, does it go straight up, or move around the trunk? Does it hide using the tree trunk? Is it able to go head first down the tree? Can it travel on the smallest of branches? Does it follow the same route to and from the tree? How does it hold its leg and tail when in the air jumping from branch to branch? What colors are on a red squirrel? Does it change with the seasons? Is the tail as long as the body? Does it express emotion? What is it used for in regards to jumping or in their nest?

* Asterisk items are inspired by or are questions from the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock – Copyright 1911.

If you find the work and vision of P.L.A.Y. supports you and your family on the life learning path, please pass it forward to friends and neighbors as a Simple Gift that keeps on giving.


❤ ❤ ❤ Thank You! ❤ ❤ ❤


Winter #63 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A January treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

“Happy Hidden Hearts”

Bonus Color Challenge  Brown With Winter White Snow Surround

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.


What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books