Fall #15 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase HereP.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


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A September treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for. . .

“White Fuzzy Fun Walking”

Bonus Wandering in the Woods

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

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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!

Fall #10 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase HereP.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


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A September treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

” Petaled + Partial + Pie-sliced “

Bonus Orange-ish

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

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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!

Summer #37 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


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


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An August treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Ode to the Odd Ovals Outdoors”

Bonus Fun Find in the Forest

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

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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 P.L.A.Y. Nature Adventure book!

TOAD #20: Tiny Toadlets

After watching the tadpoles and checking on them routinely how did I miss that ten tiny toadlets, like the one below, had sprouted arms and legs as tadpoles and were already hopping on the sandy river’s edge?

Notice how the tail hasn’t completely gone away and will continue dissolving into the toad as it grows.

When the toadlets first exit the water they are very tiny in relation to a human finger.


 ~ ~ ~ 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.

P.L.A.Y. – Pass it on!

CAPKINs


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This is a CAPKIN.

Capkins are curious & creative and are happiest outdoors on

P.L.A.Y. nature adventures with you!


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This is how you make a CAPKIN in 5 simple steps.

1. Draw a cone shape, that roughly fits in a 2 inch square like above, on a piece of paper.

2. Cut this template out and roll into a cone shape to see if you like the size.

3. Then place the paper pattern on red felt to cut out your cone.

4. Sew the cone up the back seam with roughly 15+ stitches.

5. Then add two wiggly (or felt) eyes with hot glue.

*Young children must be assisted in this craft due to sewing needles and hot glue usage.

**Children 3 and under must be supervised when playing with Capkins due to small parts choking hazard.


That’s it – all done!

Yay You!

Time for a P.L.A.Y. nature adventure!


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Red Capkins appear most often as they can be seen both near and far.

Rainbow colored Capkins appear

for special seasonal & magical moments.


❤ ❤ ❤  Origin of Capkins ❤ ❤ ❤


Capkins were originally created by Karen beginning in 2016 for her own outdoor P.L.A.Y. nature adventures.

She has carried them with her every day on her nature walks and is so very glad to share them with you.

You are invited to make your own Capkins and encouraged to bring them on your adventures with friends and family.

Capkins like to be handmade and put into this world with loving kindness. ❤

They are not sold or found for sale in any stores, rather they are given away freely.

Please be mindful of this practice and be willing to make a few extra Capkins and pass them forward to new P.L.A.Y.-ers.

THANK YOU!

❤ ❤ ❤ KAREN ❤ ❤ ❤

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I’d love to see your Capkin on an outdoor adventure!

Please send a snapshot of your Capkin in nature and perhaps you’ll see it on a future P.L.A.Y. Postcard post and have it pinned on the P.L.A.Y. PINTEREST boards. See the how to steps below.


If you would like to share your Capkin nature adventures with the P.L.A.Y. viewers please send a nature photo postcard providing the following:

  1. Your curious Capkin must be in the photo – no humans or human structures.
  2. Your first name and your last name initial (example: Karen W.)
  3. The location you took the picture (example: Yellowstone National Park or Connecticut River or my backyard in Massachusetts,etc.)
  4. Please send in a JPG File format as an attachment.
  5. You must be a follower of P.L.A.Y. with your email already signed-in (see HOME page with box to enter your email).

THANK YOU!

Send to: Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com

By sending this photo postcard you are giving P.L.A.Y. permission to post it on this blog and on P.L.A.Y. PINTEREST page and any other public forum that aligns with the mission of P.L.A.Y.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING THE P.L.A.Y.-full JOURNEY!!!

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 36 – Moose


Chapter 36

Moose


It was the last day of Mother Nature’s learning sessions in the Green Forest, and when jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun had climbed high enough in the blue, blue sky to peep down through the trees, he found not one missing of the little four-legged folks who had been learning so much about themselves, their relatives, neighbors and animals related to them living in other parts of this country. You see, not for anything in the world would one of them willingly have missed that last session.

Lightfoot the Deer was the first one on hand. In fact, he arrived before sun-up and, lying down in a little thicket close at hand, made himself very comfortable to wait for everyone’s arrival. You see he was eager to hear about his big cousin. Then the others began to arrive and settle in as they greeted Lightfoot and each other.

“The Deer family,” began Mother Nature, “is divided into two branches with the round-horned and the flat-horned. I have told you about the round-horned Deer such as Lightfoot.

“There is a cousin who is the biggest of all the Deer family. It is Flathorns the Moose. As you must guess by his name he is a member of the flat-horned branch of the family. His antlers spread widely and are flattened instead of being round. From the edges of the flattened part many sharp points spring out.”

Moose – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Flathorns wears his crown of great spreading antlers as if he is of great nobility. Mrs. Moose has no antlers. As I have said, Flathorns is the biggest member of the Deer family. He is quite as big as Farmer Brown’s Horse and stands much higher at the shoulders. Indeed, his shoulders are so high that he has a decided hump there, for they are well above the line of his back. His neck is very short, large and thick, and his head is not at all like the heads of other members of the Deer family. Instead of the narrow, pointed face of other members of the Deer family, he has a broad, long face, rather more like that of a Horse. Towards the nose it humps up, and the great thick upper lip overhangs the lower one. His nose is very broad, and for his size his eyes are small. His ears are large.”

“From his throat hangs a hairy fold of skin called a bell. He has a very short tail, so short that it is hardly noticeable. His legs are very long and rather large. His hoofs are large and rounded, more like those of Bossy the Cow than like those of Lightfoot the Deer. Seen at a little distance in the woods, he looks to be almost black, although he is really for the most part dark brown. His legs are gray on the inside.”

“Flathorns lives in the great northern forests clear across the country, and is especially fond of swampy places. He is fond of the water and is a good swimmer. In summer he delights to feed on the pads, stems, and roots of water lilies, and his long legs enable him to wade out to get them. For the most part his food consists of leaves and tender twigs of young trees, such as striped maple, aspen, birch, hemlock, alder and willow. His great height enables him to reach the upper branches of young trees. When they are too tall for this, he straddles them and bends or breaks them down to get at the upper branches. His front teeth are big, broad and sharp-edged. With these he strips the bark from the larger branches. He also eats grass and moss. Because of his long legs and short neck he finds it easiest to kneel when feeding on the ground.”

Local pond likely visited by the moose as it is only a few miles from “Moose Poop Loop”.

“Big as he is, he can steal through thick growth without making a sound. He does not jump like other Deer, rather he travels at a trot which takes him over the ground very fast. In the winter when snow is deep, the Moose family lives in a yard such as I told you Lightfoot the Deer makes. He is very smart and not easily surprised.”

“A special detail to remember is that all male members of the smaller Deer are called bucks, the female members are called does, and the young are called fawns. All male members of the big Deer, such as the Moose, are called bulls. The females are called cows and the young are called calves. The moose is a forest-loving animal and is seldom seen far from the sheltering woods of the Green Forest.”


“So,” said Mother Nature looking down at Peter and all the four-legged folks, “this wraps-up the learning sessions about the land animals, or mammals, in this neck-of-the-woods that Peter Rabbit was so curious to know and eager to share this opportunity with all of you.”

“There are other animals who live all over this great big world and in the ocean which is the salt water which surrounds the land that most of you have never seen. However those stories will have to wait for another time in the future,” Mother Nature said with a smile.


And so ended Mother Nature’s learning sessions in the Green Forest for now. One by one the four-legged folks thanked her for all she had shared with them, and then started for home. Peter Rabbit was the last to leave.

“I know ever so much more than I did when I first came to you, and I guess that after all I know very little of all there is to know,” he said with a gentle sigh and smile which shows that Peter really had learned a great deal. Then he started for the dear Old Briar-patch, already pondering with gratitude all he had learned, with a lipperty-lipperty-lip skip in his step!


Using these prompts inspired from today’s chapter draw, write, color, paint, cut & paste, or creatively capture your ideas and story adventures in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal!

  1. Near to where I live there is a walking trail called “Moose Poop Loop”. Can you guess one or more ways to see signs of a moose in an area even if you never actually see the moose?
  2. Visit this LINK to see and read more moose facts provided by the Mass Audubon Society.

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.



P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 35 – Deer


Chapter 35

Deer


Lightfoot the Deer appeared the next morning, emerging from the Green Forest, as he stepped quietly out from a thicket and bowed to Mother Nature.

“I heard,” he said, “that my fellow four-legged friends are here to learn something about my family this morning, and thought you would not mind if I joined them.”

“Oh, please do!” exclaimed Peter Rabbit forgetting that Lightfoot had spoken to Mother Nature.

All laughed, even Mother Nature. You see, Peter was so very much in earnest, and at the same time so excited, that it really was funny.

“Peter has spoken for all of us,” said Mother Nature. “You are more than welcome, Lightfoot I am delighted to have you here and I know that the others are too. I suspect you will be more comfortable if you lie down, however before you do this I want everybody to have a good look at you. Just stand for a few minutes in that little open space where all can see you.”

Lightfoot walked over to the open space where the sun fell full on him and there he stood, a picture of grace and beauty with his appearance giving him an air of nobility. There was more than one little gasp of admiration among his little neighbors.

Mother Nature began, “Lightfoot belongs to the Deer family, as you all know, and this in turn is in the order called Ungulata, which means hoofed.”

White-tailed Deer – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Peter Rabbit abruptly sat up, and his ears stood up like exclamation points. “Farmer Brown’s cows have those funny feet called hoofs; are they related to Lightfoot?” he asked eagerly.

“Actually, they belong to another family, however it is in the same order. So they are distant cousins of Lightfoot,” replied Mother Nature.

“And Farmer Brown’s Pigs, what about them?” asked Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

“Yes, they also belong to that order and so are related,” explained Mother Nature

“Lightfoot,” Mother Nature continued, “is the White-tailed or Virginia Deer. You have only to look at him to know that those slim legs of his are meant for speed. He can go very fast, although not for long distances without stopping. Like Peter Rabbit he is a jumper rather than a true runner, and travels with low bounds with occasional high ones when alarmed. He can make very long and high jumps, and this is one reason he prefers to live in the Green Forest where there are fallen trees and tangles of old logs. If frightened he can leap over them, whereas his enemies must crawl under or climb over or go around them. Ordinary fences, such as Farmer Brown has built around his fields, do not bother Lightfoot in the least. He can leap over them as easily as Peter Rabbit can jump over that little log he is sitting beside.”

“Just now, because it is summer, Lightfoot’s coat is decidedly reddish in color and very handsome. In the winter it is very different.”

“I know,” spoke up Chatterer the Red Squirrel. “It is gray then. I’ve often seen Lightfoot in winter, and there isn’t a red hair on him in that season.”

“Quite right,” agreed Mother Nature. “His red coat is for summer only. Notice that Lightfoot has a black nose. That is, the tip of it is black. Beneath his chin is a black spot. A band across his nose, the inside of each ear and a circle around each eye is whitish. His throat is white and he is white beneath. Now, Peter, you are so interested in tails, tell me without looking what color Lightfoot’s tail is.”

“White, snowy white,” replied Peter promptly. “I suppose that is why he is called the White-tailed Deer.”

“Huh!” Johnny Chuck ,who happened to be sitting a little back of Lightfoot, chimed in “I don’t call it white. It has a white edge and is mostly the color of his coat.”

Now while Lightfoot had been standing there his tail had hung down, and it was as Johnny Chuck had said. Then at Johnny’s remark up flew Lightfoot’s tail, showing only the under side. It was like a pointed white flag. With it held aloft that way, no one behind Lightfoot would suspect that his whole tail was not white.

Follow this LINK for more Lightfoot the Deer stories!

“Notice how long and fluffy the hair on that tail is,” said Mother Nature. “Mrs. Deer’s tail is just like it, and this makes it very easy for her babies to follow her in the dark. When Lightfoot is feeding or simply walking about he carries it down, but when he is frightened and bounds away, up goes that white flag. Now look at his horns. They are not true horns. The latter are hollow, while these are not. Farmer Brown’s cows have horns. Lightfoot has antlers. Just remember that. The so-called horns of all the Deer family are antlers and are not hollow. Notice how Lightfoot’s curve forward with the branches or tines on the back side.”

Of course everybody looked at Lightfoot’s crown as he held his head proudly. “What is the matter with them?” asked Whitefoot the Wood Mouse. “They look to me as if they are covered with fur. I always supposed them to be hard like bone.”

“So they will be a month from now,” explained Mother Nature, smiling down at Whitefoot. “That which you call fur will come off. He will rub it off against the trees until his antlers are polished, and there is not a trace of it left. You see Lightfoot has just grown that set this summer.”

“Do you mean those antlers?” asked Danny Meadow Mouse, looking very much puzzled. “Didn’t he have any before? How could things like those grow, anyway?”

“He loses his horns, I mean antlers, every year!” shared Jumper the Hare. “His old ones fell off late last winter. I know, for I saw him just afterward. He didn’t carry his head as proudly as he does now. He looked a lot like Mrs. Deer; you know she hasn’t any antlers.”

“Then can you tell me how could hard, bony things like those grow?” inquired Danny Meadow Mouse.

“I think I will have to explain,” said Mother Nature. “They were not hard and bony when they were growing. Just as soon as Lightfoot’s old antlers dropped off, the new ones started. They sprouted out of his head just as plants sprout out of the ground,and they were soft and very tender and filled with blood, just as all parts of your body are. At first they were just two round knobs. Then these pushed out and grew and grew. Little knobs sprang out from them and grew to make the branches you see now. All the time they were protected by a furry skin which looks a great deal like what humans call velvet. When Lightfoot’s antlers are covered with this, they are said to be in the velvet state.”

“When they had reached their full size they began to shrink and harden, so that now they are quite hard, and very soon that velvet will begin to come off. When they were growing they were so tender that Lightfoot didn’t move about any more than was necessary and kept quite by himself. He was afraid of injuring those antlers. By the time cool weather comes, Lightfoot will be quite ready to use those sharp points on anybody who gets in his way.”

Antler found in the Green Forest

“As Jumper has said, Mrs. Deer has no antlers. Otherwise she looks much like Lightfoot, save that she is not quite as big. Have any of you ever seen her babies?”

“I have,” declared Jumper, who, as you know, lives in the Green Forest just as Lightfoot does. “They are the dearest little things and look like their mother, only they have the loveliest spotted coats.”

“That is to help them to remain unseen by their predators,” explained Mother Nature. “When they lie down where the sun breaks through the trees and spots the ground with light they seem so much like their surroundings that unless they move they are not often seen even by the sharpest eyes that may pass close by. They lie with their little necks and heads stretched flat on the ground and do not move so much as a hair. You see the first thing their mother teaches them is to keep perfectly still when she leaves them.”

“When they are a few months old and able to care for themselves a little, the spots disappear. As a rule Mrs. Deer has two babies each spring. Once in a while she has three, although two is the usual. She is a good mother and always on the watch for possible danger. While they are very small she keeps them hidden in the deepest thickets. By the way, do you know that Lightfoot the Deer and Mrs. Deer are fine swimmers?”

Happy Jack Squirrel looked the surprised. “I don’t see how under the sun any one with little hoofed feet like Lightfoot’s can swim,” he said.

Deer hoof prints in the mud.

“Nevertheless, Lightfoot is a good swimmer and fond of the water,” replied Mother Nature. “That is one way he has of escaping his enemies. When he is hard pressed by Wolves or Dogs he makes for the nearest water and plunges in. He does not hesitate to swim across a river or even a small lake.”

“Lightfoot prefers the Green Forest where there are close thickets with open places here and there. He likes the edge of the Green Forest where he can come out in the open fields, yet be within a short distance of the protecting trees and bushes. He requires much water and so is usually found not far from a brook, pond, or river. He has a favorite drinking place and goes to drink early in the morning and just at dusk. During the day he usually sleeps hidden away in a thicket or under a windfall, coming out late in the afternoon. He feeds mostly in the early evening. He eats grass and other plants, beechnuts and acorns, leaves and twigs of certain trees, lily pads in summer and delights to get into Farmer Brown’s garden, where almost every green thing tempts him.

“Like so many others he has a hard time in winter, particularly when the snows are deep. Then he and Mrs. Deer and their children live in what is called a yard. Of course it isn’t really a yard such as Farmer Brown has. It is simply a place where they keep the snow trodden down in paths which crisscross, and is made where there is shelter and food. The food is chiefly twigs and leaves of evergreen trees. As the snow gets deeper and deeper they become held up in the yard until spring comes to melt the snow and set them free.

Deer tracks in the winter in the Green Forest

“Lightfoot depends for safety more on his nose and ears than on his eyes. His sense of smell is wonderful, and when he is moving about he usually goes up wind; that is, in the direction from which the wind is blowing. This is so that it will bring to him the scent of any predator that may be ahead of him. He is very clever and cunning. Often before lying down to rest he goes back a short distance to a point where he can watch his trail, so that if a predator like Old Man Coyote is following him he will have warning.”

“The White-tailed Deer is the most widely distributed of all the Deer family. He is found from the Sunny South to the great forests of the North–everywhere except in the vast open plains of the mid-west in this country. That is, he used to be. In many places he has been so hunted by man that he has disappeared. When he lives in the Sunny South he never grows to be as big as when he lives in the North.”

“These members of the Deer family belong to the round-horn branch, and are very much smaller than the members of the flat-horn branch whom I shall tell you about tomorrow.”

Using these prompts inspired from today’s chapter draw, write, color, paint, cut & paste, or creatively capture your ideas and story adventures in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal!

  1. For 10(!) more chapters of Lightfoot the Deer story adventures visit this LINK.
  2. Deer and signs of them are very common to see in your local forests or even backyards. What types of signs have you seen? Where have you seen deer? How did it feel to witness them in nature or come across signs of them having been nearby?
  3. Visit this LINK to see and read more about the white-tailed deer from the Mass Audubon Society.

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.



P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 34 – Opossum


Chapter 34

Opossum


On his way to the next learning session Peter Rabbit passed a certain tree in the Green Forest when a familiar voice hailed him.

“Good Morning Peter Rabbit,” said the voice. “What’s your hurry?” Peter stopped abruptly and looked up in that tree. There, peering down at him from a hole high up in the trunk, was a sharp, whitish-gray face, with a pair of twinkling black eyes.

“Hello Billy the Opossum,” Peter called out. “How are you and Mrs. Opossum this fine day?”

“Poorly, Peter as we haven’t had breakfast yet,” replied Billy with a grin.

A sudden thought popped into Peter’s head. “Billy,” shouted Peter excitedly, “are you a Carnivora?”

Billy the Opossum poked his head a little farther out and put his hand behind his ear as if he were a little hard of hearing. “What’s that Peter Rabbit? Am I a what?” he asked.

“Are you a Carnivora?” repeated Peter.

Peter wasn’t listening for the answer. The fact is, Peter had started lipperty-lipperty-lip for the next learning session, without even saying good-by. He arrived quite out of breath. “I know!” he panted. “I know!”

“What do you know?” asked Mother Nature.

“I know the answer to the question you asked yesterday. I know who it is that eats flesh, yet doesn’t belong to the order of flesh eaters. It’s Billy the Opossum!” cried Peter.

“Right you are,” replied Mother Nature. “However did you find it out?”

“I didn’t exactly find it out; I guessed it,” replied Peter. “On my way here I saw Billy the Opossum, and it popped into my head right away that he was one we haven’t heard about, and must be the one. However, if he eats flesh, I don’t see why he isn’t a member of the order of flesh eaters.”

“It is because he belongs to a group which has something which makes them entirely different from all other animals, and for this reason they have been given an order of their own,” explained Mother Nature. “They belong to the order of Marsupials, which means pouched animals. It is because the mothers have big pockets in which they carry their babies. Mrs. Opossum has just such a pocket.”

“Of course,” exclaimed Peter. “I’ve seen those babies poking their heads out of that pocket.”

“The Opossums are the only Marsupials in this country,” continued Mother Nature. “Now have I made it quite clear why, although they eat flesh, Billy and Mrs. Opossum are not members of the same big order as Buster Bear and the other flesh eaters?”

Everybody nodded. Just then Chatterer the Red Squirrel shouted, “Here comes Billy, and Mrs. Opossum and all the little Opossums.”

Opossum – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Sure enough, down the Lone Little Path came the Opossum family, and a funny looking sight they were. Billy was whitish-gray, his face whiter than the rest of him. He looked as if he had just gotten out of bed and forgotten to brush his hair; it pointed every which way. His legs were dark, his feet black and his toes white. His ears were without any hair at all, and were black for the lower half, the rest being white. He had a long whitish tail without any hair on it. Altogether, with his sharp face and naked tail, he looked a great deal as though he might be a giant Rat.

Mrs. Opossum was even more funny-looking as she seemed to have heads and tails all over her. You see, she had brought along her family, and Mrs. Opossum is one of those who believes in large families. There were twelve youngsters, and they were exactly like their parents, only small. They were clinging all over Mrs. Opossum. Some were on her back, some were clinging to her sides, and a couple were in the big pocket, where they had spent their babyhood.

“We thought we’d join you and see what’s going on today,” explained Billy with a grin.

“I’m glad you did,” replied Mother Nature. “You see, the rest of your friends here are a little curious about the Opossum family.”

Meanwhile Mrs. Opossum was climbing a tree, and when she had reached a comfortable notch the little Opossums left her and began to play about in the tree. It was then that it appeared what handy things those naked little tails were. When the little Possums crawled out where the branches were small, they simply wrapped their tails around the twigs to keep from falling.

“My!” exclaimed Peter. “Those certainly are handy tails.”

“Handiest tails ever,” declared Billy the Opossum smiling proudly at his family.

“Would you like to climb a tree, Billy, and show your friends here how you manage to get the eggs from a nest that you cannot reach by crawling along the branch on which it is placed,” said Mother Nature.

Billy nodded and good-naturedly started up a tree. He crept out on a branch that overhung another branch way out where the branch was small. Then he wrapped the end of his tail around the branch and swung himself off, keeping hold of the branch only with his tail and one hind foot. Then, stretching down full length, he could just reach the branch below him. “You see,” he explained, “if there was a nest on this branch down here, I could get those eggs without any trouble. I wish there was a nest. Just speaking of eggs makes my mouth water.” Again Billy pulled himself back to the other branch.

“What else do you eat?” asked Mother Nature.

Two Toads that would make a Tasty Treat for an Opossum!

“Anything,” replied Billy the Opossum. “I’m not very particular–insects, roots, Frogs, Toads, small Snakes, Lizards, berries, fruits, nuts, young Rats and Mice, corn, any old meat that has been left lying around. I could find a meal most any time most anywhere.”

“Do you always have as big a family as you have here today?” asked Peter Rabbit.

“Not always,” replied Billy. “Although sometimes Mrs. Opossum has to tote around a still bigger family. We usually have two or three big families a year.”

“Where is your home?” asked Johnny Chuck.

“I know,” said Peter Rabbit. “It’s up in a big hollow tree.”

Billy looked down at Peter and said, “remember it isn’t necessary to tell everyone where that hollow tree is now Peter.”

“Are Possums found anywhere except around here?” inquired Happy Jack.

“Yes, indeed,” replied Mother Nature. “They are found all down through the Sunny South, and in the warmer parts of the Mid-West. Billy the Opossum and his relatives are not fond of cold weather. They prefer to be where they can be reasonably warm all the year round.”

“Billy learned a long time ago that he can’t run as fast as some others, so he has learned to depend on his wits in time of danger. What do you think he does?”

“I know,” cried Peter; “I saw him do it once. Farmer Brown’s boy surprised Billy, and Billy just fell right over dead.”

“Pooh! Now that’s a story, Peter Rabbit. How could Billy the Opossum have fallen over dead and be alive up in that tree this very minute?” cried Happy Jack.

“I didn’t mean he was really dead just that he looked as if he were dead,” explained Peter. “And he did, too. He was the deadest looking thing I ever saw. I thought he was dead myself. I was watching from a bramble tangle where I was hiding, and I certainly thought the life had been scared right out of Billy. I guess Farmer Brown’s boy thought so too. He picked Billy up by the tail, and looked him all over, and said, ‘You poor little thing. I didn’t mean to hurt you.’ Billy didn’t so much as wink an eye. Farmer Brown’s boy went off up the path carrying Billy the Opossum by the tail. By and by he laid Billy down on an old stump while he went to look at a nest of Clever the Crow. When he came back Billy wasn’t there. I never did see Billy hurry as he did the minute Farmer Brown’s boy’s back was turned. He came to life as suddenly as he had dropped dead.”

“Very good, Peter,” said Mother Nature. “Pretending to be dead in order to remain alive is the cleverest thing Billy does.”

“Now, how about we focus on Lightfoot the Deer for our next lesson?”

“Splendid,” cried everyone at once and prepared to start for their homes.

Using these prompts inspired from today’s chapter draw, write, color, paint, cut & paste, or creatively capture your ideas and story adventures in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal!

  1. What is the difference between an Opossum like Billy and a Possum? Have you heard folks talk about one or the other where you live? Time to get curious and investigate! Check out this LINK to the Mass Audubon Society page to discover more!
  2. Have you ever hung upside down from “your tail”(using your legs bent at the knees) from a tree branch or on a bar at the playground? What does the world look like from that view? Would you want to hang like that often? Would you wish for a marsupial tail?
  3. Where do many marsupials live? Do they look like Billy the Opossum? What do they have in common? What are their differences?

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.


P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 32 – Black Bear


Chapter 32

Black Bear


“Has Buster Bear a tail?” asked Mother Nature, and her eyes twinkled.

“No,” declared Whitefoot the Wood Mouse promptly.

“Yes,” replied Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

“What do you say, Prickly Porky?” Mother Nature asked.

“I don’t think he has any; if he has, I’ve never seen it,” said Prickly Porky.

“He certainly has a tail,” said Jumper the Hare. “It isn’t much of a one, however it is a tail. I know because I’ve seen it many times.”

Huffing and woofing a deep, rumbly, grumbly voice spoke “What’s going on here? Who is it that hasn’t any tail?”

At the sound of that deep voice it looked for a few minutes as if the learning session would be broken up for that day. There was the same mad scrambling to get away that there had been the morning Reddy Fox unexpectedly appeared. However, there was this difference: When Reddy appeared, most of the little people sought safe hiding places, versus now they merely ran to safe distances, and there turned to stare with awe and great respect at the owner of that rumbly, grumbly voice. It was Buster Bear himself.

Buster stood up on his hind legs, like a man, and his small eyes, for they are small for his size, twinkled with fun as he looked around the awe filled circle. “Don’t let me interrupt,” he said. “I heard about these sessions and I thought I would just pay a friendly visit. There is nothing for you to fear. I have just had my breakfast and I couldn’t eat another mouthful to save me, not even such a tender morsel as Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.”

Whitefoot hurriedly ran a little farther away, and Buster Bear chuckled. Then he looked over at Mother Nature. “Won’t you tell them that I’m the best-natured and most harmless fellow in all the Great World?” he asked.

Black Bear collecting honey – Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Mother Nature smiled. “That depends on the condition of your stomach,” she said. “If it is as full as you say it is, and I know you wouldn’t tell me an untruth, then not even timid Whitefoot has anything to fear from you.” Then Mother Nature told all the little four-legged folks to put aside their fears and return.

Buster, seeing that some of the more timid were still fearful, backed off a short distance and sat down on his haunches. “What was that about a tail I overheard as I arrived?” he asked.

“It was a little discussion as to whether or not you have a tail,” replied Mother Nature. “Some say you have, and some say you haven’t. Whitefoot the Mouse thinks you haven’t.”

Once more Buster Bear chuckled way down deep in his throat. “Whitefoot never in his life looked at me long enough to know whether I’ve got a tail or not,” he said. “I never yet have seen him until now, when he wasn’t running away as fast as his legs could take him. So with me always behind him, how could he tell whether or not I have a tail?”

“Well, have you?” Peter Rabbit asked bluntly.

“What do you think?” asked Buster.

“I think you have,” said Peter.

Again Buster chuckled. “Quite right, Peter; quite right,” he said. “I’ve got a tail, although hardly enough of a one to really call it a tail.”

As Buster sat there, every one had a splendid chance to see just how he looked. His coat was all black; in fact he was black all over, with the exception of his nose, which was brown. His fur was long and rather shaggy. His ears were round. His paws were big and armed with strong, wicked looking claws.

“You all see what a black coat Buster has,” said Mother Nature. “Now I’m going to tell you something which may surprise you. Just as there are Red Foxes that are black, so there are Black Bears that are brown.”

“What’s that?” grunted Buster, with the funniest look of surprise on his face.

“It’s a fact, Buster,” said Mother Nature. “A great many of your family live out in the mountains of the Far West, and there quite often there will be one who is all brown. People used to think that these brown Bears were a different kind of Bear, and called them Cinnamon Bears. It was a long, long time before it was found out that those brown Bears are really black Bears. Sometimes one of the twin babies will be all black and the other all brown. Sometimes one of Buster’s family will have a white spot on his chest. Buster’s branch of the family is found in nearly all of the wooded parts of the entire country. In the Sunny South they live in the swamps and do not grow as big as in the North. Buster, there is a soft open dirt spot on the ground and I’d like it if you would walk across it so that these little folks can see your footprints.”

Good-naturedly Buster dropped on all fours and walked across the soft dirt spot. Right away every one understood why Mother Nature had asked Buster to do this. The prints of his hind feet were very like the prints of Farmer Brown’s boy when barefoot, only of course very much larger. You see, they showed the print of the heel as well as the rest of the foot.

“You see,” said Mother Nature, “Buster puts his whole foot on the ground, while all members of the Dog and Cat families walk all on their toes. Animals that put the whole foot down are called plantigrade. How big do you think Buster was when he was born?”

Mother Nature smiled at the curious looks on all the faces. “The fact is Buster was a very tiny and very helpless little chap. He was just about the size of one of Prickly Porky’s babies. He was no bigger than a Rat. He was born in the middle of winter and didn’t get his eyes open for forty days. It was two months before he poked his head outside the den in which he was born, to find out what the Great World was like. At that time he wasn’t much bigger than Peter Rabbit, and he and his twin sister were as lively a pair of youngsters and as full of mischief as any Bears the Green Forest has ever seen. And now, Buster, you might tell us what you live on.”

Buster’s eyes snapped. “I live on anything I can eat, and I can eat most everything. I suppose a lot of people think I live only on the little four-legged folks who are my neighbors, however that is a mistake. I do catch Mice when I am lucky enough to find them where I can dig them out, and they certainly are good eating.”

Active Ant Hill – Tiny Snack Time for a Black Bear

At this Whitefoot the Wood Mouse and Danny Meadow Mouse hastily scurried farther away, and Buster’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “Of course I don’t mind a Rabbit either, if I am lucky enough to catch one,” he said and Peter Rabbit quickly backed off a few steps. “In fact I like meat of any kind,” continued Buster. “However, the greater part of my food isn’t meat at all. In the spring I dig up roots of different kinds, and eat tender grass shoots and some bark and twigs from young trees. When the insects appear they help out wonderfully. I am very fond of Ants. I pull over all the old logs and tear to pieces all the old stumps I can find, and lick up the Ants and their eggs that I am almost sure to find there. Almost any kind of insect tastes good to me if there are enough of them. I love to find and dig open the nests of Wasps that make their homes in the ground, and of course I suppose you all know that there is nothing in the world I like better than honey. If I can find a Bee nest I am utterly happy. For the sake of the honey, I am perfectly willing to stand all the stinging the Bees can give me. I like fish and I love to hunt Frogs. When the berry season begins, I just feast. In the fall I get fat on beechnuts and acorns. The fact is, there isn’t much I don’t like.”

“I’ve been told you sleep all winter,” said Johnny Chuck.

“That depends on the winter,” replied Buster Bear. “I don’t go to sleep until I have to. I don’t have to as long as I can find enough to eat. If the winter begins early, with bad weather, I make a comfortable bed of leaves in a cave or under a big pile of fallen trees or even in a hollow log, if I can find one big enough. Then I go to sleep for the rest of the winter. However, if the winter is mild and open and there is a chance of finding anything to eat, I sleep only in the really bad weather.”

“Do you try to get fat before going to sleep, the way I do?” asked Johnny Chuck.

Buster grinned. “Yes, Johnny, I try,” he said, “and usually I succeed. You see, I need to be fat in order to keep warm and also to have something to live on in the spring, just the same as you do.”

“I’ve been told that you can climb, although since I don’t live in the Green Forest I have never seen you climb. I should think it would be slow work for such a big fellow as you to climb a tree,” said Johnny Chuck.

Buster looked up at Happy Jack Squirrel and winked. Then he walked over to the tree in which Happy Jack was sitting, stood up and suddenly began to scramble up the tree. There was nothing slow about the way Buster Bear went up that tree. Happy Jack squealed with sudden fright and started for the top of that tree as only Happy Jack can climb. Then he made a flying jump to the next tree. Halfway up Buster stopped. Then he began to come down. He came down tail first. When he was within ten feet of the ground he simply let go and dropped.

“I did that just to show you how I get out of a tree when I am really in a hurry,” explained Buster. “I don’t climb trees much now unless it is for honey, however when I was a little fellow I used to love to climb trees.”

Suddenly Buster sat up very straight and pointed his nose up in the wind. An anxious look crept into his face. He cocked his ears as if listening with all his might. That is just what he was doing. Presently he dropped down to all fours. “Excuse me,” he said, “I think I had better be going. Farmer Brown is coming down the Lone Little Path.”

Buster turned and disappeared at a speed that was simply astonishing for such a big fellow. Mother Nature laughed. “Buster’s eyes are not very good,” she said, “and yet there is nothing the matter with his nose or with his ears. If Buster says that Farmer Brown is coming down the Lone Little Path, there is no doubt that he is, although he may be some distance away yet. Time for us all to move along.”

Using these prompts inspired from today’s chapter draw, write, color, paint, cut & paste, or creatively capture your ideas and story adventures in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal!

  1. Would you like to see a Black Bear snack in action? Visit this LINK to see a log full of fun food frenzy!
  2. Are there any Black Bears in your neighborhood or neck-of-the-woods? Do they visit any specific spots like bird feeders or dumpsters?
  3. Visit this LINK for photos and information about Black Bears from the Mass Audubon Society.

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.


P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Animal BOOK LOOK – Chapter 31 – Raccoon


Chapter 31

Raccoon


Mother Nature was just about to start the next learning session when a slight noise came from up the path drawing all eyes in that direction. There, shuffling down the Lone Little Path, was an interesting looking fellow. No one needed more than one glance at that sharp, black and white face to recognize him.

“Bobby Coon!” shouted Peter Rabbit. “Are you coming to join our sessions?”

Bobby shuffled along a little nearer, then sat up and blinked at them sleepily. No one needed to be told that Bobby had been out all night. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. “Hello, everybody,” he said. “I wish I felt as bright and lively as all of you look. I’d like to join you too, however I’m afraid if I did I would go to sleep right in the middle of the session. I ought to have been home an hour ago. So I guess I’ll have to be excused.”

Mother Nature nodded her head, “If you think you can’t keep awake, just go over and sit down there by Prickly Porky; he’ll
keep you awake.

“I–I think I can keep awake,” stammered Bobby and opened his eyes very wide as if he were trying to stretch his eyelids so as to make them stay open.

“I’ll help you by asking you a few questions,” replied Mother Nature. “Who is it that people sometimes call you the little cousin of?”

Bobby grinned. “Buster Bear,” he said.

“That’s right,” replied Mother Nature.

Raccoon – Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Of course, being a Raccoon, you are not a Bear, however you are related to the Bear family. I want you all to notice Bobby’s footprints over yonder. You will see that the print of his hind foot shows the whole foot, heels and toes, and is a lot like Buster Bear’s footprint on a small scale. Bobby shuffles along in much the same way that Buster walks. No one ever mistakes Bobby Coon for any one else. There is no danger that any one ever will as long as he carries that big, bushy tail with its broad black and gray rings. And there is no other face like Bobby’s with its black cheeks. You will notice that Bobby is rather small around the shoulders, and he is big and heavy around the hips. Despite the fact that his legs are not very long Bobby is a very good runner. However, he doesn’t do any running unless he has to. Bobby, where were you overnight?”

“I was over at the Laughing Brook,” he said. “I caught three of the sweetest tasting little fish in a little pool in the Laughing Brook, and I got some of the tenderest Clams I’ve ever eaten,” replied Bobby, smacking his lips. “I raked them out of the mud and opened them. Down at the Smiling Pool I had a lot of fun catching young Frogs. I certainly do like Frogs. It is great sport to catch them, and they are fine eating.”

“I suppose you have had an eye on the beech trees and the wild grape-vines too,” said Mother Nature.

Bobby’s face brightened. “Indeed I have,” he said. “There will be an abundance of beechnuts and grapes this fall. My, they sure will taste good!”

Mother Nature laughed. “There is small danger that you will go hungry,” she said. “When you can’t find enough to eat times must be very hard indeed. For the benefit of the others you might add that in addition to the things mentioned you also eat other fruits, including berries, insects of various kinds, birds when you can catch them, Mice, Turtles, in fact almost anything that can be eaten. You are not at all fussy about the kinds of food you eat. You also have one habit in regard to your food which is unique. Do you know what it is?”

Bobby shook his head. “No,” he said, “not unless you mean the habit I have of washing my food. If there is any water near, I always like to take what I am going to eat over to it and wash it; somehow it tastes better.”

“Just so,” replied Mother Nature. “More than once I’ve seen you in the moonlight beside the Laughing Brook washing your food, and it has always made me smile. Now, did you raise a family this year, Bobby?”

“Mrs. Coon did. We had four of the finest youngsters you have ever seen over in a certain big hollow tree. They are getting big and lively now, and go out with their mother every night. I hope they grow big and strong then I’ll enjoy my winter sleep better, and I know Mrs. Coon will too.”

At this Johnny Chuck pricked up his ears. “Do you sleep all winter, Bobby?” he asked eagerly.

“Not all winter, although a good part of it,” replied Bobby. “I don’t turn in until the weather gets pretty cold, and it is hard to find anything to eat. After the first snow I’m usually ready to sleep. Then I curl up in a warm bed of leaves in a certain big hollow tree, and don’t care how cold or stormy the weather is. Sometimes I wake up once or twice, when the weather is mild, and take a little walk around for exercise. I don’t go far and soon return to sleep.”

“What do you do when Bowser the Hound gets after you?” asked Peter Rabbit.

“Run till I get out of breath,” replied Bobby. “And if by that time I haven’t been able to fool him so that he loses my trail, I take to a tree. Thank goodness, he can’t climb a tree. Sometimes I climb from the top of one tree into the top of another, and sometimes into a third and then a fourth, when they are near enough together.”

“Thank you, Bobby, now you can trot along home for a good sleep. Tomorrow we will see what we can find out about Buster Bear.”

Using these prompts inspired from today’s chapter draw, write, color, paint, cut & paste, or creatively capture your ideas and story adventures in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal!

  1. Raccoons have amazing markings on their tail and face. What other animals have distinct markings that set them apart and make them easy to recognize?
  2. Visit this LINK for a photo and more information on raccoons from Mass Audubon Society.
  3. *Why do raccoons like to live near the water? Of what use is their large bushy tail? How do raccoons arrange themselves in a tree for a nap? At what time of year are raccoons the fattest? Do they move slow or fast?

Prompts with a * are inspired by or found in the Handbook of Nature Study written by Anna Botsford Comstock, a professor at Cornell University, focusing on flora & fauna in the Northeast in 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.


P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.