Family and Youth Resources
Stuck indoors with the family but yearn to get outside or connected to nature each day? Try some of the new and exciting opportunities below – for indoor fun, online experiences, and outdoor adventures. Be sure to practice safe and appropriate social distancing, have fun and stay safe outdoors. Please routinely visit CT State Parks and Forests and Covid-19 for the latest updates on staying safe during this unsettling time. We are all responsible for doing our part to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe.
2020 Earth Month Activities
Be Bear Aware!
This Earth Month we are getting out and taking in nature’s beauty in our neighborhoods and parks. Spring is the season that bears are also out and about more too. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, DEEP, wants you to be aware of bear activity and to share some sighting with us as well. To learn more about black bears in Connecticut and have some fun, visit Living with Black Bears on the DEEP website.
- Bear sightings - The DEEP is collecting reports of black bear sightings
- Kids Coloring pages
- Black Bear Fact Sheet
Take Part In these SPECIAL BEAR FOCUSED PROGRAMS:
- Teddy Bear Hunts are popping up in Connecticut. Learn more about them and take part at the public Facebook Page CT Teddy Bear Hunt Challenge Group
- Watch Ranger Russ in a Facebook Live Bear program he recorded on April 22, viewable on their Facebook page.
- Dinosaur State Park has a post on their Facebook page, with naturalists from Dinosaur State Park discussing how bear teeth compare to Dinosaur teeth!
Enjoy nature activities from your home and stay connected to Meigs Point Nature Center. Visit with us through Facebook Live events and meet some of Connecticut's wildlife that live in the woods or the water. Scavenger hunts, word finds, vocabulary words, and links to our partners are ready for you and your family to discover together.
Find out how the Connecticut landscape has changed and how DEEP is bringing back these habitats at a special place called the Belding Wildlife Management Area. Learn how natural processes create diverse habitats, of which a wide variety of birds and other animals depend on to find food, water, shelter, and the space to raise young.
Printable book to learn about wildlife seen at Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area or in other areas around CT. Print out for coloring activities, ideas for physical games like Bat & Moth, scavenger hunts and more that can be done at home, in the yard or other outdoor spaces.
Wondering about what kinds of wildlife call Connecticut home? Researching wild animals and interested in learning more about turtles, bobcats, birds, or other CT wildlife? If so, visit our Wildlife Fact Sheets page to learn about CT’s many types of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates - or learn more about endangered species here in our home state.
Have to Have a Habitat!
Help create habitats for wildlife at home. Learn the importance of dead trees (called snags) and brush piles for wildlife, how to create butterfly gardens or nest structures, and other ways to enhance a backyard for wildlife by visiting these Wildlife Habitat Fact Sheets.
Have you been spending more time at home? Take advantage of this time by becoming a Backyard Naturalist! If you have the right tools at your disposal, it is easy and fun to learn more about the animals and plants surrounding your home. Beth Bernard, CFPA Education Director & DEEP's Goodwin Program Director, will help get your Naturalist skills off to a great start by reviewing some super-useful tools that Naturalists use on an everyday basis to observe and identify local plants and animals. She'll also let you know about some Naturalist training opportunities and resources that will teach you to you read the story of nature from the comfort of your own home.
When: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 7:00pm
Where: Registration required, Zoom login info will be shared after you register.
How: Please register on the Connecticut Forest and Park website: https://www.ctwoodlands.org/CFPA-events/become-backyard-naturalist.
The Natural Resources group has put together 25 easy activities you can do in your backyard or neighborhood. Check them out!
For more wildlife activities, Project WILD has resources available for your preschool to high school learners. Visit their Parent Resources website at https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/wild-parents for a list of condensed activities adapted for remote learning.
Plants and Forest
Sign up for Tree School and get outside to explore your backyard or nearby park. All that’s needed is an adult, a child, and a tree or two - your backyard or nearby park is perfect. Activities come from Project Learning Tree, an internationally acclaimed environmental education curriculum that helps teachers and parents engage their young ones in outdoor learning and hands-on fun. Tree School is created by CT Project Learning Tree (a partnership between CT Forest & Park Association and CT DEEP) for families who have children at grade level Pre-K through 5th. Register online to receive a weekly email with fun, nature-based activities that include art, science, drama, and more.
Beth Bernard with our partner organization, Connecticut Forest and Park Association provides an example of how to facilitate the leaf finding activity with your children. Thanks to Fox61 for posting!
Geology, Paleontology, and Geologic History
Take a virtual field trip to see some of the amazing exhibits at Dinosaur State Park’s visitor center - without having to travel to the center. Feel the excitement of this virtual tour hosted in Google Street View. Move around and zoom in to a favorite exhibit or look for something new you may not have noticed on a previous trip. On this virtual field trip, immerse yourself in the experience of walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs on the 200 million year old trackway - an adventure not typically open to the public.
Have you ever seen an Otozoum track? These are the footprints of toe-walking dinosaurs and they can be seen on this one-of-a-kind virtual tour. Along with its main trackway of 200 million year old footprints, Dinosaur State Park has many other awesome trace fossils (fossils not made of body parts like bones or teeth). In this activity, investigate one of our favorite artifacts, the Otozoum rock slab. This rock slab was discovered in Portland, CT during the late 1800's and has been on display to the public for over 124 years at various museums in Connecticut. These features were discovered just a few years ago. . . which means that they were discovered by accident after more than 100 years of research! Can you figure out what these features are? What do you notice about the size or shape? Get ready to solve the mystery and visit the link above to help scientists figure out what these mysterious features may be!
Don your virtual science lab coat and find your science notebook to get ready to explore the same features that researchers are currently investigating through an interactive, high-resolution, 3D computer model of the slab.
In Activity 1 we looked at some very small tracks at section 1 in our interactive 3D computer model of the rock slab found in Portland, CT in the late 1800s. These tracks located at section 1 could be made by a hopping mammal approximately 200 million years ago during the Early Jurassic!
During your investigations, did you notice that large scrape between the two right most otozoum tracks? This feature is located at sections 3 and 5 in the 3D computer model. This activity will investigate that mysterious feature. So let’s break out your science notebook and start our exploration!
Through interactive online games and activities, learn how the surface of the Earth has changed through time, and how plate tectonics form, destroy, and shape our world. With the Tectonic Plate simulator try you skill at making mountains, volcanic islands, and other awesome plate boundary features!
After completing the online games of “Time Travel across Earth’s Floor”, test your knowledge of plate boundaries and awesome events that occur at those special places. Investigate volcano structure by making your own lava flows!
Dinosaur State Park has a collection of fossils not often viewable to our visitors. In this fossil matching game, we have pulled out of our vault some of our most interesting fossils to share with you! As we know, fossils are more than just designs and patterns in rocks, they were once living creatures that lived in various climates and environments. So . . . are you ready to travel back in time to match the fossil to the animal it came from and the environment in which it lived?
Matching Game Directions:
- Download and print the document.
- Cut each item out.
- Match the fossils with the reconstructed organism.
- Then match the organism with its paleoenvironment.
- Look up a few facts of your favorite fossil and share on our Facebook page!
Check your answers in the Matching Game Answer Key!
Dinosaur State Park - Fossil Discoveries
Join Kira as she looks at a few fossils from the Cambrian Period that she found in Dinosaur State Park collections. She also discusses one of the top predators of the time. . . . you may be surprised by what it is!
Take a trip back in time and learn a little about earth's ancient oceans during the Devonian period! Kira, a Naturalist at Dinosaur State Park, shares two amazing fossil from the their vault! Both fossils are from the Devonian period and are not normally available to view by visitors. This special presentation is the first in a series of videos to highlight other very special fossils at Dinosaur State Park.
Kira brings out two fossils from the Carboniferious period. Similar modern relatives of the plants that made the first fossil can be seen around the wetland at Dinosaur State Park!
Join Tuesday’s Trash Talk at 10am from CT Recycles Facebook Live event to learn about current recycling tips including What’s In and What’s Out. Stay tuned through this CT DEEP statewide initiative promotes the importance of recycling and encourages people to adopt recycling as part of everyday behavior.
Kellogg Environmental Center provides outdoor educational resources and opportunities year round. To help you explore the outdoors we have provided a collection of nature related activities. Feel free to download and use these the next time you enjoy a walk in your neighborhood, explore a new park or investigate your backyard. Trails at the Kellogg Environmental Center, 500 Hawthorne Ave in Derby, are open for walking. We encourage you to use safe distancing between groups as you enjoy fields, forests, and wetlands. Some of the activities to try include: Beginner Bird Nerd, What Flew By Bingo, Connecticut Raptor Identification, Spring and Summer Bird Picture Guide, Forest Floor Bingo, A General Scavenger Hunt for the Senses.
Explore Water in your Home and Backyard!Take part in backyard water investigations and challenges using H2O Olympics offered by Project WET. Download a free copy of the activity the ProjectWET website. A Spanish version is provided here for home use. Other free resources are available using this link as well. For some water fun online you can also enjoy Discoverwater.org to learn about the role of water in our environment an our lives.
Get to Know your Parks
Connecticut State Parks offer many opportunities for visitors to enjoy. Print out and use these coloring pages to learn what special places, activities, and information the Parks provide to you. Each page features images of Parks from across Connecticut along with plants, animals and symbols. See how many Parks you have visited and find new ones to enjoy!
Learn what surprises are in store with these I Spy Challenges.
Boating in Connecticut video series on YouTube
Do you love getting outside and being on the water? Have an interest in boating and outdoor recreation? Are you a teacher looking to provide important life skills for your students? Watch the Better Boating videos, produced by the experts in DEEP's Boating Division. Designed for middle school and high school students, the Better Boating series provides detailed information regarding boating safety tips, laws, and requirements for on-water recreation. This is a great distance-learning resource for Health and Physical Education teachers to share with their students or for families to watch together before getting out on the water this summer.
No Child Left Inside
The No Child Left Inside® Program would like to share a fun family
program with you, your families and your students called the Great Backyard Pursuit (“GBP”) which will be starting on May 9, 2020.
We are inviting you all to take part in disconnecting from technology, getting outside in your yard, backyard, local park, trail or forest or local open space area with your family for 7 weekends of adventures exploring nature. Follow our program mascots Nuts and Nuts Jr. as they explore their backyard and local community outdoor areas, while families explore theirs. While participating, we ask that you photo journal your experience and share with us.
Please visit the nochildleftinside.org website on May 7, 2020 for specific details on participating and to sign-up.
Learn more about this years Family Adventure Program called the Great Backyard Pursuit!
Should you have any questions, please email Kristen Bellantuono, No Child Left Inside® Coordinator at:
Content Updated: June 15, 2020