My Nature Museum starts to take shape

Since our winter programmes in High Park last year, I’ve been starting to think about and gather things for a “nature museum”. A nature museum consists of, well, objects from nature that kids (and adults) can check out. (PINE Project programmes use nature museums a lot, so it’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while, I guess. But more concretely over the past year.) We found during our winter and March Break programmes that it was nice to have some nature museum stuff out for the kids to check out in the morning when they first got there and we were waiting for everyone else to arrive. (We had some stuff out this summer too, but nothing that exciting in there yet, so it didn’t draw a ton of attention…) Having a nature museum gives kids a chance to explore some objects and start asking questions about them, and discovering some cool stuff. During March Break, we started our days with a circle where we had a couple of kids choose one or two nature museum objects that had intrigued them that morning, passed the objects around, and had kids ask some questions and make some guesses answering each others’ questions. What the objects actually are isn’t that important – what’s more important is that they’re asking questions, comparing objects, making guesses… It was also cool to see the kids get excited on our hikes to come across things we’d seen in the nature museum.

So as of a month or two ago, my nature museum consisted mostly of some different types of acorns, pine cones, milkweed pods, and possibly a cicada exoskeleton or two. Interesting stuff, but not thrilling. It’s the sorts of stuff kids find on a regular basis anyway…

Luckily, I have a family that likes to collect stuff! (Ok, sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not so much…) When I was at the cottage one weekend in September, we found a small skull. As I was checking it out and debating bringing it to the city for my nature museum, my uncle mentioned that we have a whole little cookie tin of skulls in the tool shed that he and my grandpa had collected over the years. So I went and checked that out and brought a couple more items back with me. I debated bringing back some of the bear bones we’ve got (or at least a claw), but haven’t done that yet… It still had dried up flesh on it…

This past weekend, on a wander through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, I also found some cool shells from chestnuts and some other types of nuts. Check them out:

That's one serious wasps' nest!

That’s one serious wasps’ nest!

Also pretty sure I have a piece of a wasps’ nest somewhere… Gotta find that. In the meanwhile, here’s a picture of a ridiculously large wasps’ nest I stumbled upon (ok, under) in Cabbagetown.

Do you have a nature museum? What do you have in there?

Happy growing (and exploring)!

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