“There is abundant wildlife in New York City – hundreds of different species call the Big Apple home. From soaring hawks to curious coyotes, it’s no surprise that we encounter animals everywhere from our parks and greenspaces to our roads and roofs. After all, they’re New Yorkers, too!” – WildlifeNYC
Our summer read, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate has sent us on a journey to the sweaty, abundant, and exciting world of Calpurnia Tate, or Callie Vee, as she is known. It’s the summer of 1899 in Fentress, TX, and Callie Vee is spending her summer collecting specimens, observing animals, and even making scientific discoveries!
Conquer the great outdoors just like Callie Vee by exploring the wildlife in your own community! And don’t forget to tune in to meet author Dr. Jacqueline Kelly for our Reading into History Family Book Club on September 27.
Keep a nature journal! Callie Vee begins keeping a nature journal after her brother gives her a special notebook. Follow in her footsteps by keeping your own journal of scientific observations. Try it for a week, but keep it going as long as you like!
- Each day, make at least one observation and illustrate it.
- Add as much detail as possible to your drawings! Try using colored pencils, colored markers, or a set of watercolor pencils, like these.
- If you’re looking for some help getting started, check out this nature journal from our NYHistory Store or these templates!
What are your favorite outdoor activities? Brainstorm a list with your family. Next, count the number of activities you listed. Then, collect the same number of rocks (or shells) from around your neighborhood. Next, decide on a symbol to represent each outdoor activity. Paint or draw each symbol on to a rock. Keep the activity rocks in a bowl or jar. Each day, choose a different rock and complete the represented activity with your family!
Outdoor activities can include:
- Go on a picnic like Callie Vee does on page 140!
- Collect and observe plants just like Callie Vee in chapter 11.
- Play hopscotch like the kids at Callie Vee’s school!
Create a “nature display” in your home! Ask your family members to bring home at least one found object from the outdoors and keep it in a shared “nature display” box or jar. (This object does not need to be from nature. Recyclables or other found objects are fine too! They are part of our city’s ecosystem). At the end of the day, everyone presents their object: Where did they find it? What could they learn from this object about your neighborhood? What new questions do they have about the object?
Ready for even more nature play from home? Check out the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Garden News Blog for activities. Also, visit the Raising Outdoor Kids Blog for a great list of nature play accessories and naturalist books for kids.
Visit other outdoor gardens and sites! Some suggestions in the NYC metro area include: The New York Botanical Gardens (July 20), Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (July 30), and Wave Hill (August 7) have reopening dates set for late July and early August. Check their websites for more information.
Take a Virtual Field Trip to the Hall of Planet Earth at the American Museum of Natural History!
By Ava Prince