Stretching Shadow – A Simple Gift

The shadows grow long as the sun sets ever earlier and we near the end of November allowing for P.L.A.Y.-full moments like this one here in my neck-of-the-woods.

And even though I’ve passed through this patch of the forest a thousand times this moment was like catching an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror as I caught sight of my extended shadow.

My how tall I’ve grown I thought. I look a bit long in the legs with four of them no less! I could be called “stretch”! What if a critter walked up behind me, how tall would they be? What if it was the black bear I saw a few weeks ago only this time it was walking on two legs? Oh my – what silly fun!

This whimsical moment reminded me yet again of how everything changes, always. Mother Nature has made sure that no matter what there will always be change even if we do not readily see it.

That is how this year has been too. There are so many obvious changes that have taken place in 2020 and yet there are so many subtle ones as well.

This holiday week may be a bit quieter for many of us as we stay home in our own pods and save visiting family and friends for another year when it is safer to do so.

And perhaps this provides an unexpected opportunity for all of us to reflect on the more subtle changes, perhaps even unexpected delights, that have unfolded while our attention was elsewhere this year.

What little things have you overlooked that could only have taken place due to the larger changes throughout 2020?

Someday when masks, and pods, and the pandemic are over what little things will you miss that could only have taken place this year and will eventually disappear?

Once you’ve sat with these thoughts awhile I hope you and your cozy pod are able to take the time to delight in the simple and subtle changes outdoors this week and in the months to come.

Whether it is catching a glimpse of your own shadows in the setting sunlight, collecting cool crystals on a winter’s day, or creating your own spontaneous P.L.A.Y. projects may you all discover simple pleasures in your own neck-of-the-woods.

Truly nature is there for you, ready to P.L.A.Y., always.

Be well, be safe, and simply bee!

From me and my shadow,

Karen ;0) ❤

Visit P.L.A.Y. on PINTEREST!

 

Join the P.L.A.Y. community on PINTEREST!


You will find nature videos, story read-alouds, seasonal snapshots, and oodles of  inspirational P.L.A.Y. pins for you and your family.


Try these P.L.A.Y. boards -Pass it on!


 P.L.A.Y. + Pass it on!

Forest Bathing with the Family – A Daily Simple Gift!

Have you ever stood amongst the trees in mid-autumn in awe of the wonderful canvas of color before you and wondered how the leaves change color or know when to fall?

Have you ever been in a pine forest with fog rolling in and felt the stillness of hushed sounds all around and only an echo of a bird calling in the distance?

Have you ever walked about after a winter ice storm to see the sparkling sun shine through the coated branches?

Have you ever stood under the canopy of a maple tree during a light spring rain shower and watched the water droplets roll off the tips of the leaves?

Then perhaps forest bathing may be something you’ve been doing for awhile now and the phrase is simply new to you. Or perhaps you’ve been spending a great deal of time indoors and the thought of time spent amongst the trees brings you back to childhood or a more peaceful time in your life.

Either way, now is a great time to reconnect to the idea of spending time in nature and to learn more about the benefits of soaking up your natural surroundings for a few moments each day, or as often as you can, for your health and well being and that of your family.

The bonus is you’ve come to the right place as P.L.A.Y. is very much here to help you connect and engage with this concept of forest bathing. The daily blog posts on P.L.A.Y.  are here to encourage the whole family to find the nearest nature path or patch, be present and allow for your sense of curiosity and wonder to kick in, and make the essence of P.L.A.Y.  a routine practice.


Forest Bathing For Families



Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

by Dr. Qing Li


Dr. Qing Li, a scientist in Japan, explains in his book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness and how the term shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) came about in the 1980’s. He also shares the many ways spending time in the forest or in a nature setting can make a world of difference in your health and well being. As a scientist he has gathered the data over time to show skeptics why spending frequent time in the forest is beneficial for improved sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, increased energy boost, a natural way to connect with loved ones, and so much more. And as a human he has experienced these benefits first hand.

❤ ❤ ❤

I too have discovered, through simple curiosity and P.L.A.Y. , that heading outdoors daily in all seasons has had a beneficial impact on how I see and feel and experience this world. Being outdoors routinely has increased my creativity, provided a sense of calm even during challenging times, and given me the opportunity to learn so much more about my natural surroundings here in New England.

Forest bathing and nature walking have been so beneficial to my well being and that of my family that I just had to share these experiences and encourage others to join the journey. This has been the catalyst for creating P.L.A.Y. – Passionate Learning All Year and keeps me consistently returning to my neck-of-the-woods to see what new wonders have appeared right outside my door and eagerly passing forward these gifts through this blog to you and your family.


Hannah Fries, author of Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees, has also created a wonderful guide that is a great companion to Dr. Qing Li’s book and is just the right size for the whole family to engage with and be inspired by both the photos and prompts. An example of a prompt found mid-way through the book is “As you watch a tree sway in the wind, let your knees and shoulders relax. Sway a little on your own stem.” Or another example is ” Find harmony as you look closely at the natural world, you may begin to see patterns amid what seems like chaos -unexpected connections thrumming everywhere around us.” Hannah’s book is a balm in these times as we all need to find peace-filled spaces and moments to simply be present and in awe of nature which can help us feel grounded and safe on Mother Earth even in the midst of uncertainty.

Note: The foreword to Hannah’s book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer the author of the well known and also much recommended Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.


🙂

Time to gather up your gaggle of giggling gifts, aka kiddos + family all – Fido too, and announce you’re going for a bath in the forest – together!

It’s P.L.A.Y. Time!

Please pass forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage loved ones, both near and far, on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


Family Gardening #14: Summing it All Up!


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Hoping you and your gardens thrived this year – weeds, bees, and all the oh my goodness that “grows” with it!

❤ ❤ ❤


On this last day of summer let’s wind down this series with a few more sunny snapshots.

Strawberries foraged in the meadows under the warm summer sun. Quality over quantity to tingle your tastebuds!

 

Apples in our old orchard with some for taking a bite and some just right for cider making.

Awesome cabbages grown to make homemade sauerkraut in a crock!


Yay for green thumbs!


Butterfly garden flowers that have been given as bouquets and to dress up our table. Beautiful – like bringing sunshine indoors!


❤ ❤ ❤

Time to put the gardens to bed and this series too. 🙂

Tidy up the plants and regain the overgrown walking paths while filling up the compost bin with all that great vegetation.

Time to enjoy the harvest and give your green thumb a well deserved rest.

See you back here in this family gardening thread when the seed catalogs start rolling in!

Look for fresh new posts by early Spring 2021!

❤ ❤ ❤


Notes:

  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE


This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!

Nature BOOK LOOK – The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel

 


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Mushroom Fan Club

by Elise Gravel


Karen’s P.L.A.Y. previews and companion activity adventures.


 P.L.A.Y.ful story preview:

Simple Mushroom Mastery and Mycologists in the Making

*Must have an enthusiastic favorite adult to advise kiddos on this adventure.

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventures:

  • Challenge: Are there mushrooms you’ve seen in a nearby forest that are also in this book? What are they? Can you draw or photograph them?
  • Super Challenge: How do you think they came up with such a variety of fun mushroom names and who do you think got to name them?
  • Super-Duper Challenge: Before looking up your next mushroom find be sure to create your own crazy name first and record it in your nature discovery notebook – eyes and all!
  • Super-Duper-Stellar Challenge: Solve this mystery . . .  are mushrooms fungi or are fungi mushrooms?
  • Curiosity REMINDER: As beginners it is best to look with your eyes not your hands so as not to disturb the mushrooms. And ALWAYS check with a person who has experience foraging for mushrooms before even considering eating them. 

Fungi Finding is FUN!


More of my latest forest fungi finds:


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

Toad BOOK LOOK #14: Life Cycle + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

Toad Life Cycle

Beautiful Drawings in Black & White

Toad Life Cycle by S.H. Gage – Cornell Nature Study Leaflet 1904

Toad Life Cycle Circular by S.H. Gage – Cornell Nature Study Leaflet 1904


P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

These simplistic and beautiful drawings of “Old Mr. Toad” are from over 100 years ago and are still just as accurate today.

Time to take a moment and pull out your own nature journal and sketch your observations of toads and tadpoles.

Use a local habitat or the photos and videos provided on P.L.A.Y. and P.L.A.Y. on Pinterest as great ways to engage with this topic year round.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Bird BOOK LOOK – Curiosity Projects -The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Annotated)


P.L.A.Y. in Place Curiosity


Missed Chapter 1? Begin Online for FREE HERE

So now that you have read the 45 chapters in The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Annotated) series provided by P.L.A.Y. online, what’s next?

Time to make use of your family’s interests generated from this adventure story with Peter Rabbit and his feathered friends to create new leaping off points into projects and activities that can easily be done at home.

Below are some sample curious questions to help get you started.

Be sure to have each family member generate their own list of what they enjoyed most  and what they’d like to explore further as this keeps everyone engaged and motivated.

Curiosity propels us forward into new ideas as well as digging deeper into topics that were only covered at the surface level. All super life learning moments!


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects + Activities


  1. Parts of a Bird: Our feathered friends have eyes, throat, shoulders, and a belly just like us. What other parts make up the bird anatomy that is different from humans?
  2. Beak Shape: What are the uses of a bird beak? Can you list them? What different types of shaped beaks are there and what are their clever uses? Dig deep!
  3. Bird Size Silhouettes: How does the outline or shape of a bird (their silhouette) help in identifying from a distance? What characteristics can you tell from a silhouette?
  4. Bird Songs + Calls: Can you track the songs of the birds that live just outside your windows? Who do you hear singing on a spring morning? Who do you hear on a summer’s eve? Do you hear more high notes or low notes? Slow notes or fast? Loud notes or soft notes? Can you duplicate the song you hear on a flute or by whistling? What are bird song mnemonics? Example: Chick-a-dee-dee-dee
  5. Feathers: What purpose do they serve beyond flying? Why is there a variety in colors? How do they vary in size? Do they vary in shape?
  6. Ornithologists: Who are they? Look into what the study of birds was like in the late 1800’s vs. how current day scientists engage with this work.
  7. Birds Can Be: Make a list of what birds can be. Example – seed spreaders, morning wake-up alarms, winged dancers, egg layers, singers, etc.
  8. Bird Watchers: Over 40+ million people in the United States consider themselves birders. How do folks engage with the study of our feathered friends even when they are not scientists by profession?  What is a hobbyist vs. a citizen scientist? Can all birders see activity in their local habitat year round in the United States?
  9. A great winter bird project in New England for the whole family is to engage with Project Feeder Watch by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is helpful to prepare before the first frost if you need to put poles in the ground and certainly before the first winter storm blankets the ground with snow.
  10. Bonus! How many books can you name with a bird in the title? How many songs can you name that have a bird mentioned in it? What artwork have you seen with birds as a theme?

P.L.A.Y. in Place:

Read, Get Curious, and Enjoy the Journey!

If you haven’t already purchased one or two basic Bird ID books to have on hand in your home you might like to give these two a try.


National Audubon Society

The Sibley Guide to Birds

Written and Illustrated by David Allen Sibley

This guide edition copyright 2000 has been used extensively by my son for identifying birds in his photography as well as by other family members simply looking out our windows. This volume is very thorough in covering birds across the United States and specifically here in New England providing standard deviations to help distinguish between any differences.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Backyard Birdsong Guide to Eastern and Central North America: A Guide to Listening

by Donald Kroodsma

This book has a matching audio recording of 75 bird songs and calls to help you ID what you are hearing outdoors with a family friendly format.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Online Resources


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided this new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Summary – The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Annotated)


Peter Rabbit has taken us on quite the adventures in the past 45 chapters in this New England setting by introducing us to all of his feathered friends and learning about their habits and interactions throughout the Old Orchard, Green Forest, and beyond.


*If you missed Chapter 1 begin Online for FREE HERE


Having completed your reading of The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Annotated) now would be a great time to make use of your family’s interests generated from this story and use them as a leaping off point to make more discoveries about the natural world. Have each family member make a short list of what they enjoyed most or what they are still curious about for further exploring. Dig in!

Below is a list of some top online resources and books to look up at your local library for more great birding adventures. Enjoy!


P.L.A.Y. in Place Online Resources


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:


P.L.A.Y. in Place:

Read, Get Curious, and Enjoy the Story!


Into the Nest: Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds

by Laura Erickson & Marie Read

This book is a fantastic compliment to the Burgess Bird Book story as it goes into great depth about all the habits of 25 bird species that were mentioned throughout Peter Rabbits adventures. Filled with gorgeous color photos you get to meet “Jenny Wren and her family” and countless other feathered friend real life “characters”. This is a top pick!


What It’s Like To Be A Bird:

From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing, What Birds Are Doing, And Why 

by David Allen Sibley

David Sibley’s latest book is also great for the entire family with fantastic color illustrations of most all the birds mentioned in the Burgess Bird Book and engaging details that keep curious folks coming back for more. This too is a top pick and comes highly recommended by my 20 year old son who has taken on bird photography just in the past year. Visit my son’s collection of New England bird nature photos HERE.


My Side of the Mountain

by Jean Craighead George

Ready to settle into another great read aloud (or solo read)? How about a story that highlights both spending time outdoors, befriending a bird, and showing how to connect to nature and make peace with feeling lonely at times? This classic has it all!


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided this new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 45 – Northern Goshawk + Great Horned Owl


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



CHAPTER 45 – Peter Sees Two Feathered Hunters


While it is true that Peter Rabbit likes winter, it is also true that life is not easy for him that season. In the first place he has to travel about a great deal to get sufficient food, and that means that he must run more risks. There isn’t a minute of day or night that he is outside of the dear Old Briar-patch when he can afford not to watch and listen for danger. You see, at this season of the year, Reddy Fox often finds it difficult to get a good meal. He is hungry most of the time, and he is forever hunting for Peter Rabbit. With snow on the ground and no leaves on the bushes and young trees, it is not easy for Peter to hide. So, as he travels about, the thought of Reddy Fox is always in his mind.

However, there are others whom Peter fears even more, and these wear feathers instead of fur coats. One of these is Terror the Goshawk. Peter is not alone in his fear of Terror. There is not one among his feathered friends who will not shiver at the mention of Terror’s name. Peter will not soon forget the day he discovered that Terror had come down from the Far North, and was likely to stay for the rest of the winter. Peter went hungry all the rest of that day.

You see it was this way: Peter had gone over to the Green Forest very early that morning in the hope of getting breakfast in a certain swamp. He was hopping along, lipperty-lipperty-lip, with his thoughts chiefly on that breakfast he hoped to get, and at the same time with ears and eyes alert for possible danger, when a strange feeling swept over him. It was a feeling that great danger was very near, though he saw nothing and heard nothing to indicate it. It was just a feeling, that was all.

Now Peter has learned that the wise thing to do when one has such a feeling as that is to seek safety first and investigate afterwards. At the instant he felt that strange feeling of fear he was passing a certain big, hollow log. Without really knowing why he did it, he dived into that hollow log, and even as he did so there was the sharp swish of great wings. Terror the Goshawk had missed catching Peter by a fraction of a second.


Hollowed out log for hiding.


With his heart thumping as if it were trying to pound its way through his ribs, Peter peeped out of that hollow log. Terror had alighted on a tall stump only a few feet away. To Peter in his fright he seemed the biggest bird he ever had seen. Of course he wasn’t. Actually he was very near the same size as Redtail the Hawk, whom Peter knew well.

His back was bluish. His head seemed almost black. Over and behind each eye was a white line. Underneath he was beautifully marked with wavy bars of gray and white. On his tail were four dark bands. And Peter could see the eyes that were fixed on the entrance to that hollow log. Peter shivered as if with a cold chill.

“I hope,” thought Peter, “that Mr. and Mrs. Grouse are nowhere about.” You see he knew that there is no one that Terror would rather catch than a member of the Grouse family.

Terror did not sit on that stump long. He knew that Peter was not likely to come out in a hurry. Presently he flew away, and Peter suspected from the direction in which he was headed that Terror was going over to visit Farmer Brown’s hen yard. Of all the members of the Hawk family there is none more bold than Terror the Goshawk. He would not hesitate to seize a hen from almost beneath Farmer Brown’s nose. He is well named, for the mere suspicion that he is anywhere about strikes terror to the heart of all the furred and feathered folks. He is so swift of wing that few can escape him.


Barnyard hen is dinner for a Goshawk.


All that day Peter remained hidden in that hollow log. He did not dare put foot outside until the Dark Shadows began to creep through the Green Forest. Then he knew that there was nothing more to fear from Terror the Goshawk, for he hunts only by day. Once more Peter’s thoughts were chiefly of his stomach, for it was very, very empty.

However, it was not intended that Peter should fill his stomach at once. He had gone only a little way when from just ahead of him the silence of the early evening was broken by a terrifying sound “Whooo-hoo-hoo, whooo-hoo!” It was so sudden that Peter had all he could do to keep from jumping and running for dear life. He knew that voice and he knew, too, that safety lay in keeping perfectly still. So with his heart thumping madly, as when he had escaped from Terror that morning, Peter sat as still as if he could not move.

It was the hunting call of Hooty the Great Horned Owl, and it had been intended to frighten some one into jumping and running, or at least into moving ever so little. Peter knew all about that trick of Hooty’s. He knew that in all the Green Forest there are no ears so wonderful as those of Hooty the Owl, and that the instant he had uttered that hunting call he had strained those wonderful ears to catch the faintest sound which some startled little sleeper of the night might make. The rustle of a leaf would be enough to bring Hooty to the spot on his great silent wings, and then his yellow eyes, which are made for seeing in the dusk, would find his prey.

So Peter sat still, fearful that the very thumping of his heart might reach those wonderful ears. Again that terrible hunting cry rang out, and again Peter had all he could do to keep from jumping. He did not jump though, and a few minutes later, as he sat staring at a certain tall, dead stub of a tree, wondering just where Hooty was, the top of that stub seemed to break off, and a great, broad winged bird flew away soundlessly like a drifting shadow. It was Hooty himself. Sitting perfectly straight on the top of that tall, dead stub he had seemed a part of it. Peter waited some time before he ventured to move. Finally he heard Hooty’s hunting call in a distant part of the Green Forest, and knew that it was safe for him to once more think of his empty stomach.


Icy babbling brook in winter


Later in the winter while the snow still lay in the Green Forest, and the ice still bound the Laughing Brook, Peter made a surprising discovery. He was over in a certain lonely part of the Green Forest when he happened to remember that near there was an old nest which had once belonged to Redtail the Hawk. Out of idle curiosity Peter ran over for a look at that old nest. Imagine how surprised he was when just as he came within sight of it, he saw a great bird just settling down on it. Peter’s heart jumped right up in his throat. At least that is the way it seemed, for he recognized Mrs. Hooty.

Of course Peter stopped right where he was and took the greatest care not to move or make a sound. Presently Hooty himself appeared and perched in a tree near at hand. Peter has seen Hooty many times before, always as a great, drifting shadow in the moonlight. Now he could see him clearly. As he sat bolt upright he seemed to be of the same height as Terror the Goshawk, although with a very much bigger body. If Peter had known it, his appearance of great size was largely due to the fluffy feathers in which Hooty was clothed. Like his small cousin, Spooky the Screech Owl, Hooty seemed to have no neck at all. He looked as if his great head was set directly on his shoulders. From each side of his head two great tufts of feathers stood out like ears or horns. His bill was sharply hooked. He was dressed all in reddish-brown with little buff and black markings, and on his throat was a white patch. His legs were feathered, and so were his feet clear to the great claws.

Above all else it was on the great, round, yellow eyes that Peter kept his own eyes. He had always thought of Hooty as being able to see only in the dusk of evening or on moonlight nights, and somehow he had a feeling that even now in broad daylight Hooty could see perfectly well, and he was quite right.

For a long time Peter sat there without moving. He dared not do anything else. After he had recovered from his first fright he began to wonder what Hooty and Mrs. Owl were doing at that old nest. His curiosity was aroused. He felt that he simply must find out. By and by Hooty flew away. Very carefully, so as not to attract the attention of Mrs. Owl. Peter went back the way he had come. When he was far enough away to feel reasonably safe, he scampered as fast as ever he could. He wanted to get away from that place, and he wanted to find some one of whom he could ask questions.

Presently he met his cousin, Jumper the Hare, and at once in a most excited manner told him all he had seen.

Jumper listened until Peter was through. “If you’ll take my advice,” he said, “you’ll keep away from that part of the Green Forest, Cousin Peter. From what you tell me it is quite clear to me that the Owl Family have begun nesting.”

“Nesting!” exclaimed Peter. “Nesting! Why, gentle Mistress Spring will not get here for a month yet!”


Winter Wonderland


“Hooty the Great Horned Owl doesn’t wait for Mistress Spring,” said Jumper. “He and Mrs. Owl believe in getting household cares out of the way early. Along about this time of year they hunt up an old nest of Redtail the Hawk or Clever the Crow or Chatterer the Red Squirrel, for they do not build a nest themselves. Then Mrs. Owl lays her eggs while there is still snow and ice. Why their youngsters don’t catch their death from cold when they hatch out is more than I can say. They simply don’t. I’m sorry to hear that the Owl Family have a nest here this year. It means a bad time for a lot of little folks in feathers and fur. I certainly shall keep away in from that part of the Green Forest, and I advise you to.”

Peter said that he certainly should, and then started on for the dear Old Briar-patch to think things over. The discovery that already the nesting season of a new year had begun turned Peter’s thoughts towards the coming of sweet Mistress Spring and the return of his many feathered friends who had left for the far away South so long before. A great longing to hear the voices of Welcome Robin and Winsome Bluebird and Little Friend the Song Sparrow swept over him, and a still greater longing for a bit of friendly chatting with Jenny Wren. In the past year he had learned so much about his feathered neighbors, and there were still so many things he wanted to know, things Jenny Wren and others could tell him. He couldn’t wait to begin the year anew with more questions and curiosity about his feathered friends and all of the creatures in the great Green Forest, and beyond.



P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Toad BOOK LOOK #13: Solo Song + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

What is this female toad listening for?

Visit Pinterest to see this video of a female toad listening to mating calls in the river.


Why does the male toads throat bubble or bulge out as he sings his solo song?

Visit PINTEREST to see a video of a male toad’s mating song down at the river.


P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

  • Time to dig deeper into the questions above and get curious and generate some thoughts of your own. Talk with your family and make a list of observations.
  • Watch the videos together and make note of more details you can extract. What more would you like to know? Make a list.

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.