Hunt for Spring Mushrooms in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Spring Mushrooms

Primitive peoples thought that mushrooms sprang from the ground where lightning had struck. Do you like mushrooms? On top of pizza, and in soups and sauces? If you do, you may know that spring has its start - - the morel. The morel is considered one of the most delectable wild mushrooms. It's easy to identify, and it's good both fresh or dried. (Dried mushrooms are reconstituted in water before cooking). Morels are so highly prized that many mycologists, as mushroom hunters are called, … [Read more...]

How to Make a Scarecrow for Kids

Wisconsin Scarecrow

Some of the seeds you plant in the garden may never sprout even if the conditions are right. Why not? Because birds and other animals might have eaten them! As any experienced gardener can tell you, you have to expect to share some of your bounty with other animals. But can they take a hint? Put up a scarecrow and find out! Crows aren't the only pesky creatures that help themselves to garden produce. But the name scarecrow has such. Make a figure from some of your old clothes stuffed with … [Read more...]

Listen for Spring Peepers’ Sound

Spring Peeper Frog

The first warming spring rains stir a number of animals to life, and in northern Wisconsin you may be aware of a bell-like "pee-eep, pee-eep, pee-eep," (sounds like jingling bells) coming from the direction of a pond or marshy spot, even when there is snow on the ground. Who is making this noise? Spring Peepers, tiny (postage stamp size) frogs that awaken from their underground sleep well before more other frogs and toads. The Peeper's call is a welcome one. Not only does it mean that … [Read more...]

Make a Leaf Press and Scrapbook

Pressed Leaves for Scrapbook

A good way to preserve plant and leaf specimens is to press them. You can always stick them between the pages of a fat book (make sure you protect the book by slipping the plants between sheets of clean paper), but an even better press is a portable one you can take with you on hikes. You can make your own at home with some simple materials. Take two pieces of 1/4" plywood or masonite cut to the size you want. A 6" x 8" rectangle is a good size to tote: make the press larger if you plan to … [Read more...]

Look for Fiddleheads of Ferns

Ostrich Ferns

Ferns can be found growing all over Wisconsin. We know that there were ferns on earth 300 millions years ago (fossilized remains have been found). They've changed little since then. Today there are 12,000 species of ferns throughout the world and 68+ of those species found right here in Wisconsin. Most are large tree-like plants, some are even aquatic. Those native to the United States are usually found in the moist, acid soil of woodlands. Once the ferns shoot up from the litter of the … [Read more...]

How to Make a Rain Gauge for Kids

Homemade Rain Gauge

While you can collect rain in any container marked off in inches (or centimeters), you can actually make a gauge that is more precise. The best container for collecting rain is a wide-mouthed one. If you can find a wide funnel that will fit inside it, all the better, because the funnel will keep some of the rainwater from evaporating before you get a chance to record its depth. But measuring a small amount of rain in such a large container is difficult. There√Ęs a trick for making more precise … [Read more...]

Look for Animal Tracks

Northern Wisconsin Animal Tracks

With the spring thaw comes mud. And where there's mud, there are bound to be animal tracks! Although many animals are shy and elusive, they do leave behind many traces of their presence. You just have to know what to look for. Tracks made in soft ground are easy to find. You can even make permanent plaster of Paris casts for them. When you find tracks, you'll want to first identify them, and then see if you can piece together something about the animal's activities. By measuring the distance … [Read more...]

Make Your Own Rainbow

Northern Wisconsin Rainbow

Just after a rain, when the sun emerges from behind the clouds, check the sky for a rainbow (or two). Actually, it must still be raining somewhere in the sky for a rainbow to form. The sunlight is refracted (bent) and reflected (bounced back) by the raindrops, which act like tiny prisms. The seven colors we see in a rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. (Just remember Roy G. Biv to recall the colors in their proper order). Rainbows figure in many folks mythologies, … [Read more...]

Make a Wormery


Watch your step during and after a spring or summer rain, because the ground is often liberally sprinkled with earthworms. You've heard about it "raining cats and dogs"? Well, some people wonder if it doesn't "rain earthworms!" Why else would they be lying all about? A heavy rain will often flood the earthworms' burrows. The worms risk drowning if they don't come to the surface. There are plenty of dangers there, however. Sunlight is harmful to earthworms, and of course there are robins! … [Read more...]