Learning is an All-Season Adventure
Take your students outdoors to learn! Join us at Terra Cotta Conservation Area for an engaging hands-on field trip that will have your students exploring the curriculum in nature. All of our education programs are linked to specific grade-level curriculum outcomes and encourage an appreciation for nature. We also have limited availability for our Sweet Maple Syrup program this March. Book now to reserve your space!
Did you know plants can migrate? They may not migrate like Canada geese do in winter, but plants can migrate to new places by sending out their seeds. If you’ve ever blown on a dandelion seed head, you have helped a plant migrate. There are four main methods of seed dispersal that plants can use wind, water, animals and bursting.
When seeds are very light, or if they have a parachute or helicopter shape, they can travel on the wind. Some examples of seeds that use the wind to disperse are milkweed and dandelion seeds, that have hairs that help them float, and maple keys, that use their helicopter shape to drift on the wind.
Some seeds use animals, like squirrels, birds and humans to help them spread. For example, burrs move to new areas by clinging to animal fur or human clothes, while oak trees drop acorns that squirrels will move to a new location and bury. Some plant seeds can even survive being eaten by animals and are then transported to a new location when the animal defecates. Animal scat is also a great fertilizer for new seedlings!
Seeds that grow on or near bodies of water can also use water to move to new areas. Coconuts are one seed that can float, but local plants like cranberries and cattail seeds can also float on the water to reach new places.
The final method of dispersion is bursting or explosive seeds. These plants are able to burst sending their seeds flying in many directions. Plants like jewelweed and wild lupin in Ontario both have seed pods that burst open sending seeds flying far from the plant.
Now that you know how plants can migrate, keep your eyes open and watch for seeds travelling in your neighbourhood!
Get to Know Local Plants and Seeds
Have you noticed any fall changes to the trees and other plants in your neighbourhood? As the days continue to get shorter some of the trees lose their leaves and plants are preparing to go dormant for the winter. For more information on what trees do to survive the winter, check out this blog post from Ontario Parks.
If your students are interested in local trees and plants, use this meet a tree activity that helps students get to know the trees in their community using all of their senses. For older students, use this tree trouble guide and have them act as tree detectives to determine whether or not the trees in their community are healthy.
Even though the leaves may be gone from the trees, there are still seeds everywhere! Learn more about plants by taking a walk in your community with a fuzzy sock and using this seed travels activity to learn more about seeds that hitch a ride on animal fur. Then try to plant your seeds and test the things that plants need to grow using this Scouts activity. For younger students use this seed sorting activity to look for different ways to organize the seeds you found.
If cold temperatures make it harder to get outside, try creating your own mini-forest terrarium by using a clear plastic bottle. Or use local seeds to create seed balls to spread more native plants in your community this spring. You can even use your drama skills to build a tree right in your classroom using this tree factory activity from Project Learning Tree, or act out the life cycle of a tree with this tree drama game.
Putting Nature to Work
Did you know that we can use natural solutions to help us face the problems caused by climate change? In the Credit River Watershed, we have already seen some impacts of climate change, like more severe storms and warmer fall temperatures, but by acting now to restore nature, we can all help to stop the impacts of climate change.
In 2021, Credit Valley Conservation, with support from the Greenbelt Foundation, developed a video to help people better understand what nature-based solutions to climate change are. We’re encouraging everyone in our watershed to watch and share the video to learn more about the value and services natural ecosystems provide. Download our Community Partner Promotion Package to learn how you can use this video to promote nature as a solution to climate change.
“When Autumn’s work is nearly done, charmed trees fall asleep; Old Man Winter comes.”
Source: Angie Weiland-Crosby