June 8, 2020
For more activities, visit our Nature Center and Facilities Facebook pages listed here:
|Agricultural Farm History Park||Black Hill Nature Programs||Brookside Gardens||Brookside Nature Center||Cabin John Ice Rink|
|Locust Grove Nature Center||Meadowside Nature Center||Needwood Mansion||Wheaton Ice Arena||Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park|
What Are Animal Adaptations?
Naturalist Geri Drymalski teaches about animal adaptations and survival with the help of a box turtle, an educational animal from Brookside Nature Center, Montgomery Parks.
Puzzled About Squirrels
How much do you know about squirrels? Do you want to learn even more? Become a squirrel watcher. Observe squirrels just outside of your window or from your front door. Study what they do and how they are wonderfully adapted to your backyard.
Visit the Brookside Nature Center Facebook page to learn about the species of squirrels that live in Maryland.
Chesapeake Conservancy Nest Cams
Spring brings the sound of bird songs, which means that baby birds will soon be on the way! It is not easy to see what happens in a nest, but there are nest cams out there for us to watch.
The Chesapeake Conservancy has three nest cams for their Peregrine Falcon and the Great Blue Heron (both currently incubating eggs) and the Osprey, which are just about done building their nests for this season.
Outdoor Nature Challenge – Insects
Many of us may be stuck at home, but it is important to get outside for a while for our physical and mental health!
– In your backyard, find an insect in its natural habitat and identify it. Here is a great guide to help you identify the insects.
– Then re-create that bug using recyclable materials around your house. Empty packages and junk mail are great art materials!
Tag us (@LocustGroveNature) or post your pictures in the comments on the Locust Grove Nature Center Facebook page. Then follow Locust Grove Nature Center on Facebook for more nature challenges!
Noisy Spring: Open your Window and Listen to the Birds!
Spring time is the best time of the year to perk up your ears and focus on sounds – especially, bird sounds! Whether your favorite bird is a year-round resident like a northern cardinal or blue jay or a just-returned migrant Baltimore oriole, there are birds to watch everywhere, enjoy and to learn about. All you have to do is listen!
Visit the Brookside Nature Center Facebook page for a list of resources to help you identify birds and the sounds they make.
Join us in keeping watch for some of our most popular birds- bluebirds! They are returning to check out nest boxes around the county. So, give the birds their spaces, but keep an eye out for those exciting splashes of color as they investigate nest boxes. Montgomery Parks has a volunteer team of bluebird monitors who check and report on all nests and nesting successes in our parks. Learn more about the Eastern Bluebird from the Maryland Bluebird Society.
Animal Social Distancing – Bullfrog Jump
The guidelines for social distancing can be a bit confusing, so we have asked an animal expert to help explain.
How Do You Measure Up? An American bullfrog can jump six feet.
Try this at home:
– Find an open space with room to move, grab two lengths of string and a ruler.
– Use one string to create a starting line. Line up both feet behind the starting line. Now, with both feet together, jump as far as you can.
– Use the other string and a ruler to measure your distance from the starting line.
Did you jump further than the bullfrog?
Outdoor Nature Challenge – Birds
Listen for birds! Try sitting outside quietly with the kids to watch or listen for birds.
– Use your phones to record the bird singing, or take a picture of it.
– See if you can identify the bird using the Audubon Bird app or The Cornell Lab All About Birds guide.
– Record yourselves imitating the bird’s call, or research the plants or trees the bird needs for food or a home.
Tag us (@LocustGroveNature) or post your pictures in the comments on the Locust Grove Nature Center Facebook page. Then follow Locust Grove Nature Center on Facebook for more nature challenges!
An Uninvited Guest: The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
The brown marmorated stink bug is a frequent and unwelcome guest each spring in many Maryland homes. Known by many, but loved by few, the insect has spent the winter hiding in homes and other buildings in large adult groups.
But now, with warmer temperatures, the stink bug is becoming active, and you may start seeing it as the bug makes its way outdoors in search of food and mates.
Visit the Brookside Nature Center Facebook page to learn more about this insect and instructions for DIY origami project.
Box Turtle Vibrations
The box turtles at Meadowside Nature Center usually spend their day interpreting vibrations caused by visitors to the Curiosity Corner, but it has been a little quiet around there lately!
How do box turtles hear? Box turtles do not have external ears. Instead, they have skin on the sides of their head that forms a tympanic membrane and protects their inner ears. The hearing range of a box turtle is more limited than humans, picking up low vibrations.
Visit the Meadowside Nature Center Facebook page for pictures of Tulip the box turtle experiencing sound vibrations during her music in the tub enrichment.
Tulip, the Eastern Box Turtle
Meet Tulip, our Eastern box turtle. Naturalist Jenny shares a little bit about this amazing animal.
Meadowside Mississippi Map Turtle
We want to give you a peek at our animals and how they are doing. Delta, our Mississippi map turtle, is deciding if shrimp and sweet potato are worth coming out from behind the rocks for. They are!
Meadowside Red-Tailed Hawk
Meet Scarlet, Meadowside’s red-tailed hawk animal ambassador, enjoying a nice bath on a warm spring day! Scarlet, like most raptors, gets the water she needs from the fluid in her diet of small rodents and birds. Raptors bathe to cool off and to keep their plumage in good condition. Scarlet is doing a great job of this. Look at her beautiful golden-red tail, which red-tailed hawks are named after. Wow!
Unlike some amphibians that lay their eggs and let nature take its course, red-backed salamander moms stay with their eggs to protect them. Mothers find a moist environment for a nest cavity, usually in a rotting log, to keep their eggs well-hydrated.
A red-backed salamander mom curls her body around her eggs and stays with them, only eating if something crosses her path. Once the little salamanders emerge from their eggs, they stay with mom in the nest cavity up to a few weeks after hatching. What a hard-working, amazing animal mother!
Precious, the Turkey Vulture
Precious, our turkey vulture, enjoys eating quail, chicks, and mice in her enclosure.
The turkey vulture has an incredible sense of smell! The bird can detect a dead or rotting animal more than a mile away. Precious, like all turkey vultures, has the largest olfactory system of all birds. Watch her in action in this video!
Citrus, the Corn Snake
Meet Citrus, our corn snake. Naturalist Jenny shares a little bit about this amazing animal.
You probably know snakes slither, but did you know they can climb?
Here is our albino corn snake, Citrus, showing off her climbing skills on our custom peg board. Citrus is enriched by the opportunity to engage in a natural behavior- plus it is pretty cool to see!
DIY Disco Ball
Friday night skates at Cabin John Ice Rink are the best! There is fun music, wild lighting, lots of friends together and a disco ball!
Bring the rink party to your home by following these instructions from The Spruce to make your own disco ball.
Then, put some paper plates under your feet, turn up the tunes, flash some light on your new disco ball, dim the lights and you are ready for your own skating shindig! And remember to bring that disco ball back out into the spotlight for New Year’s!
Did you know that ice rinks are painted? In fact, in order to repaint an ice rink, you have to melt the ice to do it!
Why not paint some ice of your own at home? With a baking tray, some watercolors and a towel (to soak up any mess), you can create a wonderful masterpiece! Check out the naturesource.com website for step-by-step instructions.
Ice Castle Excavation
Looking for a fun, easy, at-home activity to keep your children occupied and learning? How about an ice excavation? This is a neat, easy-to-do activity that only requires a sand castle bucket, some toys (that can get wet), and water! Check out these step-by-step instructions.
DIY Nature – Botanical Art
Botanical art is the depiction of plant life through art. While oftentimes beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, it depicts accurate information and scientific details about the plant.
This form of art is important to sharing and understanding information about the natural world and the role plants play in it. And now you can take part in the fun as well! Visit the Black Hill Nature Programs Facebook page for step-by-step instructions to create your own.
Looking for some new toys? Let’s recycle all those delivery boxes and make some toys out of them! Visit the Black Hill Nature Programs Facebook page for step-by-step instructions.
Rainbow Melting Ice Experiment
What combines ice, fun, coloring and learning? Typically our summer camps do just that, but, with no camps this year, we hope that you have fun doing this rainbow melting ice experiment from the Powerful Mothering website to bring the ice, fun, coloring, and learning to your home!
Snake ID craft
It is spring and our reptiles are awake and on the move! Did you know Maryland is home to 27 species of snakes, all of which play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem?
How many of these amazing creatures can your family identify? Here is one great way to practice your snake ID: Draw a spiral snake outline and pick one to illustrate and cut out. Remember, venomous snakes have arrow-shaped heads while non-venomous snakes have more square-shaped heads.
For younger artists, identify the shapes and colors found on your chosen snake. For older artists, learn the patterns that make this snake unique and one species-specific adaptation!
Visit the Common Snakes of Maryland Photo Guide by our friends at Maryland Department of Natural Resources for inspiration.
Build your own Bird Feeder
Bring nature closer to home! Make your own bird feeder and see the different kinds of birds that flock to the feeder. Follow instructions for this at-home activity on the National Audubon Society website.
Nature Fairy Craft
Let’s make Fairy Fashion today!
1. Collect natural materials from your backyard. Look for things with different textures, shapes and colors.
2. Draw a simple outline of your fairy. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Add a sense of movement. This helps the fairy come alive!
3. Cut out sketch and assemble her outfit. Do not glue. Allow your child to try out different combinations and looks.
4. Glue. This part may require an adult. I used hot glue because I have very little patience but Elmer’s glue works fine too. It will just take longer to dry.
5. Play with Fairy in her natural habitat!
Shapes in Nature
Indoor nature fun and learning for preschoolers and their favorite adults:
Find shapes in nature:
1.Use round jar lids of different sizes to trace a circle or a ruler to draw a square, rectangle or triangle.
2.Kids use safety scissors to cut your shapes (Adults supervise and assist with scissors).
3.Crayons or colorful markers to decorate your shapes.
4.Explore your home or yard together in search of matching shapes.
Natural Egg Dyes Craft
Looking for something to do with the kids today? Here’s a fun idea to do indoors with them. Use nature’s dyes for dyeing eggs!
*For red or pink: Use two cups boiling water plus one cup grated beets plus two tablespoons vinegar.
*For yellow: Use two cups boiling water plus one tablespoon turmeric spice plus two tablespoons vinegar.
*For green: Use two cups boiling water plus three bags Matcha Green Tea plus two tablespoons vinegar.
*For blue: Use two cups boiling water plus one cup grated or chopped red cabbage plus two tablespoons vinegar.
1. After mixing the ingredients for a specific color, let it sit for about an hour.
2. Next, strain the vegetable/ or each bag out. The longer the egg sits in the natural dye, the more vibrant the color!
DIY Mosaics Painting
Are you inspired by paint mosaics, but are not sure where to start? This nature-inspired collaborative project is fun for the whole family with only a few steps. Visit the Meadowside Nature Center Facebook page for step-by-step instructions to make your own mosaics painting.
Looking for a new, fun way to entertain the kids? Missing the rink and the fun times that ice skating brings? Check out this craft idea that will bring the rink to your fingertips…magnetically, of course!
Mini Ice Rink
We recently learned how to make a magnetic skater. Now we will make a mini ice rink that you can use for your lego players to play on. This video explains how to make an at-home mini ice rink, complete with goal posts! Post a picture or video of your completed ice rink in the comments on the Wheaton Ice Arena Facebook page.
Let’s Make a Suncatcher
How do you stretch? Static warmups used to be taught to athletes of all sports, but scientific data now show that dynamic warmups better prepare you physically and mentally for exercise. Watch this video from former National Hockey League player Gary Roberts on how to have an effective dynamic workout at home.
Olympic Day Workout
We celebrated Olympic Day on June 23! Get into the spirit, be good to your body and move along with the athletes in this 30-minute video from the largest ever 24-hour digital-first Olympic workout.
Importance of Sleep
Would you call yourself a “Sleep Champion?” Whether you are still constantly training or dialing down your activity levels these days, sleep is crucial in restoring your physical condition and optimizing mental health. During your time off the ice, get lots of sleep, but first watch this Team USA video on the importance of sleep.
Physical Literacy and Athletic Excellence
Now is the time to grow your physical literacy and to help your friends and family do the same. There is no time like the present to focus on your ability, competence and desire to be active for life. Learn more about physical literacy and athletic excellence with these resources from USA Hockey – American Developmental Model.
Nature lives in our minds no matter where we are. Find a quiet place and sit or lie in a comfortable position.
– Set a timer for five minutes.
– Take a deep breath and close your eyes.
– Exhale out through your mouth. Take another deep breath and picture your favorite memory of being outside.
– Do you remember climbing a tree or a favorite camping trip? Stay with this memory until your timer goes off.
– Try to increase the meditation time daily.
Time in nature is essential for physical and mental well-being. Use these short garden mindfulness guides each day in your backyard. Make sure to visit the Brookside Gardens Facebook page every Monday to see a new way to practice mindfulness in nature.
Frog Jump Exercise
Watch this frog jump exercise video from cure.fit to see how repetitions of frog jumping can strengthen muscles throughout the body, especially your ankles and core.
Virtual Mindful Mondays
Explore simple ways to connect and reconnect with nature during our Mindful Mondays series. Led by trained meditation experts from Minds Incorporated, learn how to bring awareness to your thoughts, sensations and emotions in these videos.
Name Drop Workout Challenge
Try out this fun workout challenge from Learn to Skate USA! This fun at-home workout leverages the power of the alphabet to create endless fitness combinations.
Each letter of the alphabet is associated with a cardio, strength, balance or stretching exercise. Combine letters together to build a custom workout.
The longer the name, the longer the workout!
Sweat and Stretch Challenge
Flexibility is essential for success in skating, and regularly engaging in an off-ice stretching routine will improve your flexibility over time.
Challenge yourself to focus on flexibility with this fun two-part workout from Learn to Skate USA!
Keep in shape off the ice with daily workouts, like these from Learn to Skate USA.
Pass the Puck Exercises
Want to keep up with your hockey skills off the ice? Passing exercises can be done at home or outside with your gloves, stick, and a puck or ball. Check out this great video of pass the puck exercises from USA Hockey.
As we are at home for the safety of ourselves and others, Wheaton Ice Arena would like to remind you of the importance of daily stretching and exercise. Not sure what exercises to do? It is easy!
Try some squats, lunges and leg lifts to keep your legs nice and strong for when the rink re-opens. Do not forget to stretch at the end!
Interested in continuing your ice training and looking into options to keep your activity level heightened? Check out this awesome blog post by Learn To Skate! We found the interactive app they mention worth downloading and an interesting way to keep track of how you (or your little skater) progress in your lessons.
Check out the Cabin John Ice Rink website for exercise videos and other resources from their skating coaches and instructors to help you stay in shape while at home.
Paper Plate Ice Skating
Do you have any paper plates lying around? Want to practice some gross motor skills with your child? Ice skate with paper plates! View instructions for this fun, easy-to-do activity from Hands On As We Grow: Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers.
Off Ice Madness
Let’s do our own March Madness off the ice with this bracket challenge from Learn to Skate USA.
Step It Up Skating Challenge
Do you think you could climb the stairs of the Washington Monument to reach the top? If you can climb 897 steps, then you sure can! U.S. Figure Skating and Learn to Skate USA are joining forces and challenging their members to put their cardio and strength to the test with a virtual journey to the top of famous monuments across the United States. All you need is a flight of stairs! Visit the Cabin John Ice Rink Facebook page to learn how you can take part in this challenge!
Cleaning Your Hockey Gear
Visit the Cabin John Ice Rink Facebook page for some tips on cleaning your hockey gear while being away from the rink.
Types of Skates
So what is the difference in the skates used by athletes in each of the skating disciplines…figure skating, hockey and speed skating? Four-time Olympic speedskater Dan Cruikshank explains the difference in these skates and how they are built to help athletes master their ice sport in this interview.
Tree Yoga Exercise
Learn the parts of a tree and do some tree yoga exercises with Black Hill Nature Facility and Programs Manager Jen Scully.
Flotation Process and Archaeobotanical Research
Ever wondered how archaeologsts learn about diet, medicine, and environmental conditions at sites they research? One way is to work with a specialist called an archaeobotanist who looks at preserved plant remains. This video from the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum explains the how and why of the flotation process and archaeobotanical research, using material recovered from the site at Josiah Henson Museum and Park.
Piggy Bank at James Hanson Miles site
This early-twentieth century piggy bank was found during excavations at the James Hanson Miles site in Little Bennett Regional Park. The piggy bank is a yellow ware decorated with a mocha slip. Yellow wares were first manufactured in the United Kingdom during the late eighteenth century and were not produced in Maryland until the mid-nineteenth century.
Notice that the bank is broken. The ceramic bank has a single slot at the top and would have been intentionally broken to retrieve the coins placed inside. The machine-made glass marbles and piggy bank likely belonged to children who either lived at the farmstead or vacationed at the property during the summer months.
For more information on yellow ware and other earthenwares, visit the James Patterson Park & Museum online resource page on historic ceramic identification.
Log Cabin Day
June 25 is Log Cabin Day! Each year, people celebrate this day by helping to preserve historical log cabins so they can be maintained for future generations. You can celebrate by learning more about Oakley Cabin in Brookeville, Maryland. Oakley Cabin was once part of an African American community of three cabins that lined Brookeville Road. Learn more on the Needwood Mansion Facebook page.
Cast Iron Stoves
This cast-iron stove lid divider (pictured on the left) was found during excavation of the log cabin at the Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park. The lid divider would have belonged to a cook stove and separated two burners on the stove top.
The Oakley Cabin cook stove was likely a utilitarian piece, primarily used for food preparation and heating the one-and-a-half-story log cabin. It would have burned coal or wood and featured the latest air-tight technology for fuel efficiency.
This cast-iron parlor stove (pictured to the right) was recovered during excavation at the Seneca Store site in 2019. Parlor stoves were both ornamental and functional pieces in the mid-nineteenth century home. Elaborately cast stoves such as this are reflective of overtly ornate Victorian tastes. Gothic arches, classical columns, scrolls, and floral designs inspired much of the home décor, advertisements, and architecture of the day.
The Seneca Store stove is similar in design and function to the Saratoga Wood-Burner model Number 4, manufactured by Warren, Swetland & Little in 1853, and would have been used to heat the store’s two-and-a-half-stories, warm a kettle, or a small cooking pot.
For more information on the Saratoga Wood-Burner, visit the stove history blog, “A Stove Less Ordinary.”
Sandy Spring: A Kinship Community
Sandy Spring, Maryland is a “kinship community” platted in 1715 by Richard Snowden, a Quaker land speculator. The town was formally founded in 1728. It was also the home to the Palmer family of Woodlawn Manor in 1822. What is a kinship community? Learn more on the Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park Facebook page.
History of Juneteenth
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation for the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor…” (General Order Number 3 – June 19, 1865)
Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring slaves held within the rebellious states were from this day forward, free. But, prior to Union General Granger’s regiment arriving in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the enslaved there remained in bondage.
Maryland did not secede from the Union during the Civil War. Therefore, those enslaved were not emancipated until 1864, by act of the Maryland Legislature.
Share the history of Juneteenth with your children in this video from PBS and Maryland Public Television.
Trade catalogs were popularized in the United States beginning in the eighteenth century. As industry boomed, manufacturers published illustrated product guides detailing product specifications, price, latest technologies, and advertisements. By the nineteenth century, trade catalogs featuring home furniture and kitchen appliances were widely produced. Archaeologists use manufacturer advertisements like this 1854 Rathbone and Kennedy Stove Manufacturer circular (pictured on the left) to identify and interpret domestic materials.
Evidence of cast-iron stoves have been recorded at several archaeological sites throughout our parks. This stove leg (pictured to the right) was found during the 2017 field season at the Josiah Henson Museum and Park. Check in with us for our series on coal and wood-burning stoves of the nineteenth century.
For more information on trade catalogs, browse the Library of Congress online resource guide.
Historic Districts of Montgomery County
Did you know Montgomery County was initially part of Prince George’s County? In 1698, Prince George’s County included Fredrick County, part of Carroll County, and western Maryland. There were no colonists living in western Maryland at the time. In 1776, at the Maryland Convention, it was decided that Maryland would be divided into thirds and Montgomery County was established. Visit the Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park Facebook page to learn more about the historic districts in Montgomery County.
It’s Harvest Time
It’s harvest time! June and July were one of the busiest times of year for women in the nineteenth century, including the women at Woodlawn Manor. The woman of the house was selecting recipes for her family’s winter meals and enslaved household servants were picking the produce to begin preparing for the laborious days ahead preserving the food. The most common preservatives used for canning were: sugar, vinegar, salt and alcohol. Some food was air dried in the sun or heat dried over the hearth. Once the food was preserved, it would be placed in jars, bags or crocks that were stored in cool dry cellars to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. A few favorite recipes of the time were: chow chow, brandied peaches, and fruit leather. We can only imagine that the nine Palmer children were partial to fruit leather because it remains a favorite childhood treat today.
Learn to make strawberry fruit leather with your kids with this recipe from PBS Food.
History of Cabin John Regional Park
Where is the “cabin” in Cabin John? Although Cabin John Regional Park is located a few miles away from the Cabin John community located next to the Potomac River, there are many stories of how the park got its name. And, there is a lot of history within the park, like this cabin. It was built in the 1930s as a summer and weekend retreat by Dr. Charles Armstrong, an NIH epidemiologist. (We are grateful for our epidemiologists of the past and today.)
Read more about the history of the park on the Cabin John community website.
Discovering African American History at Needwood Mansion
Discover Needwood Mansion’s African American history! As you come down the tree-lined drive from Needwood Road, look past the bronze marker prominently displayed in the front yard, walk around the late-federal, three-story brick mansion, and focus your attention on the two-story stone structure and the surrounding area in the back. It is here where enslaved men and women were able to rest from their long days laboring on the plantation known as Sunnyside. Enslaved people lived in the upper story of the stone dairy as well as in housing that existed to the east of the dairy building. Learn more on the Needwood Mansion Facebook page.
Material Culture during the COVID-19 Era
Archaeologists look to the material culture of past societies to interpret the human experience over time. In the archaeological record, material culture is defined by the objects and spaces that past people have modified to reflect their behaviors, beliefs or traditions.
Learn more about material culture on the Needwood Mansion Facebook page.
Several slate pencil fragments have been found at the Josiah Henson Museum and Park. These nineteenth-century pencils were likely crafted from slate that was locally sourced from commercial quarries in Howard or Frederick County.
Although paper was widely produced in the United States during the mid-nineteenth century, it was very expensive. School children used slate pencils and writing boards to practice their lessons and show their work, frequently wiping their slates clean between lessons.
For more on the history of writing slates and pencils, visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History collection and The Museum of Teaching and Learning
Tricks of the Trade Series
Visit the Needwood Mansion Facebook page for their series about how historians and archaeologists prepare for work in the field.
The Life of Josiah Henson
“I WAS born, June 15, 1789, in Charles County, Maryland…” This is how Josiah Henson starts his 1849 narrative, sharing his life’s story that begins in Maryland, continues to Kentucky, and ends in Ontario, Canada, where he and his family sought freedom from slavery. Josiah Henson was enslaved on the Riley plantation just outside of Rockville until 1825. His experiences served as an inspiration for Harriett Beecher Stowe’s main character in the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
The archaeological excavations on the Riley Plantation site are revealing the nineteenth century landscape Josiah Henson and the other enslaved people created and lived in, adding to this important part of American history. The Josiah Henson Museum and Park is under construction and will open later this year. Read the electronic version of his story.
Newlin’s Mill Archaeological Site
Enjoy this 3D reconstruction video of the Newlin’s Mill archaeological site as it it may have looked when in operation during the Nineteenth century. Located in Brookeville, this site, along with Thomas Mill, helped propel the town to economic success.
Mulberries: The Forgotten Fruit
June is berry picking season. We are all very familiar with strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, but the little used mulberry was a main staple in the colonial American diet. Learn more about this fruit’s place in history on the Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park Facebook page.
Everyone Counts: Let’s Learn About the Census
Hoyles Mill Historic Map
Maps are a great resource for archaeologists and historians to compare historic records to the cultural landscapes of their day. The earliest record of the Hoyles Saw and Grist Mill can be traced to an 1816 Maryland Second District Tax Assessment. This section of the 1865 Martenet and Bond’s map of Montgomery County, Maryland, shows some familiar features along the Hoyles Mill Trail, including Little Seneca Creek, John Hoyle’s Saw and Grist Mill, and an unnamed rural road—now known as Hoyles Mill Road. While the mill is no longer standing, Hoyles Mill Road has been modified for public use since the nineteenth century.
Almanacs Tell the Story
“How will we share the stories of today’s events in the future? Dr. William Palmer, owner of Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park, often used his almanac as a journal to detail the events that took place on his nineteeth-century farm.
Starting a journal or almanac to record today’s events will make sure that your history is saved for future generations.
The Story of Photos
Most families have a box of photos. Some date back before digital photography and some go back generations. Do you know all the people in the photos?
Historians are sometimes challenged by photographs because the people, places and activities are unknown.
Visit the Agricultural Farm History Park Facebook page for a photo project using your family pictures to tell a story of your family.
Every Family Has a Story
Have you ever asked your grandma what her favorite meal, game, or toy was growing up? Have you ever asked your parents how they first met, or where they went on their first date?
Our families all have their own histories, each as unique and interesting as the person sharing it!
One job of historians is to capture what are called “Oral Histories”. Oral histories are considered “primary sources,” or history captured from the perspective of an actual person who lived it (letters and diaries also fall into this category!).
Collect your own family stories with this Oral Histories project from our staff at the Agricultural Farm History Park.
Virtual Tour of Muncaster Mill
The ruins of Muncaster Mill are still visible at the intersection of Muncaster Mill and Emory Lane near Meadowside Nature Center. Visit the Needwood Mansion Facebook page to see a photo album of these ruins and learn about the operation that existed for nearly two hundred years.
Josiah Henson Artifact – Saucers
These ceramic fragments (pictured to the left) found at the Josiah Henson site were once part of a saucer. They came from a kitchen trash deposit discovered during construction for the museum. Based on the handpainted design and colors, this saucer was made sometime between 1795 and 1815. For more information on similar ceramics, and how archeologists determine and artifact’s age, take a look at the “Diagnostic Artifacts” on the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum website.
The Woodlawn Museum is housed in a stone barn that was constructed in 1832 by master mason Isaac Holland for Dr. William Palmer.
The three-level barn is considered a bank barn. Bank barns are built into the side of a hill or embankment, allowing the ability to enter all three levels without the need of stairs. Two of the entrances to the stone barn can be seen in the photo to the right. Learn more about restoring historic barns on the National Park Service website.
History of Sandy Spring and the Northwest Branch
More than 300 years ago, Quaker settlers built a thriving community around the northwest branch of the Anacostia River. The village of Sandy Spring was named for the gentle headwaters that flow through the fields, woods and farms of the community. The “Sandy Spring” is located at the end of the Underground Railroad Experience Trail at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park. Learn more about the history of this area on this story map.
Zeigler Log House
One of the best preserved archeological sites within Little Bennett Regional Park is the Zeigler Log House located off the Western Piedmont Trail. Visit the Needwood Mansion Facebook page to learn more about this historic property.
Excavations at Zeigler Log House
The Montgomery Parks Archaeology Program has excavated the Zeigler Log House for over a decade. With the help of our volunteers and Montgomery Parks Archaeology Camp participants, we are learning more about what life was like for those who lived and worked on a farm in the nineteenth century. See highlights from our excavations, artifact finds and history on the Montgomery Parks Archaeology Program website.
What was Concealed Behind this Wall at the Zeigler Log House?
Many historic structures hold deliberately hidden objects within their walls. These ritually concealed artifacts could be dropped into the hollow spaces between walls during repairs or periods of new construction to ward off evil spirits.
Can you guess what artifacts were purposefully hidden at the Ziegler Log House?
To find out the answer and the story behind this artifact, visit the Needwood Mansion Facebook page.
History of Ice Skating
How long have people been ice skating? The answer may surprise you. Check out this informative article from Encyclopedia Britannica on the history of ice skating and the invention of the modern ice rink.
Zamboni (R) is a brand name. But, do you know who the Zamboni (R) is named after? Well, learn some Zam-history with this timeline from the Zamboni (R) Corporation.
In honor or Maryland Archaeology Month (April), we challenge you to recreate your own piece of Montgomery County history!
Search your home for materials to build a small-scale version of your favorite local historic site, architecture or cultural space. Then, share your creation with us in the comments section of this post on the Needwood Mansion Facebook page and tag us (@NeedwoodMansion).
For inspiration, visit our History in the Parks page or check out the Archaeological Institute of America’s Build Your Own Monument challenge.
Naturalist Trail Report
Did you know? To visit one of the park’s best insect habitats, you need go no further than the parking lot! Lots of crawlies make the milkweed plant their home, including aphids, beetles and of course, the monarch caterpillar. Go on a milkweed scavenger hunt and you may also find this… tiny lobster? Visit the Locust Grove Nature Center Facebook page to learn more about the creatures that naturalists see on the trails near the nature center.
Backyard Nature Surprises – Luna Moth
Meet the exquisite luna moth! This nocturnal creature, with a wingspan of four-and-a-half inches, is hard to miss. During the day, the moth rests and stores its energy for a mating flight that takes place after midnight!
Without the ability to eat, the adult’s life is short-lived, with mating and egg-laying as its sole purpose. Visit the Meadowside Nature Center Facebook page to learn more about the luna moth.
Backyard Nature Surprises – Pondhawk
We love hawks here at Meadowside Nature Center! However, this is one we do not talk about as much–the Eastern pondhawk.
The pondhawk is a type of dragonfly and is known for eating insects as large it is. The insect has a special adaptation for hunting, large spines on its middle and hind legs that help it grab its prey… maybe similar to the talons of its avian namesake.
Red in the Garden
Red and green are complementary colors. The high contrast of red flowers and green foliage demands attention. Here are some red beauties we found in the garden this week (pictured below). What have you found in your garden? Show us in the comments on this post on the Brookside Gardens Facebook page!
Grow a Garden from Kitchen Scraps
Planting a vegetable garden from vegetable scraps is an easy, cheap and fun way to make a garden in your own home. Use your powers of observations and watch your garden grow day by day from the comfort of your own kitchen. Visit the Black Hill Nature Programs Facebook page to learn about one plant each day and how to plant and grow it in this five-part series.
Nature journaling is a great way to stay connected to the natural world. There is always something to be discovered through journaling. You can identify a new flower in your own backyard or observe the behavior of a newly- fledged bird.
Visit the Locust Grove Nature Center Facebook page each week for a new journaling prompt that you can do at home.
Butterfly Life Cycle
Brookside Gardens’ Kathy Stevens talks about the life cycle of a butterfly, focusing on the native Eastern tiger swallowtail.
Alex, a volunteer Master Naturalist, introduces the Mason Bee, their importance, and their solitary nature.
All That Buzz
Celebrate National Pollinator Week! Are honeybees your favorite pollinator? Enjoy a visit to the Brookside Nature Center bee yard in this video courtesy Montgomery Blair High School students.
Beetles are not the only pollinators of magnolia trees. Watch this video to learn about the amazing pollinator-plant relationship.
Join one of Meadowside Nature Center’s naturalists and find out what pollinates the paw paw patch!
Beetle Craft Pollinators
Join Meadowside Nature Center Naturalist Jenny and find out how to make a beetle craft!
Maydale Nature Classroom Naturalist, Glenn Rice, explains the hummingbird’s role and importance as a pollinator.
The Great Migration Challenge
Visit the Maydale Nature Classroom to play the Great Migration Challenge, a fun game that teaches the challenges migrating birds encounter throughout their long migration route.
Pollinators in Your Garden
These creatures play a critical role in our lives! Pollinators range from honeybees, flies, beetles, moths, and bats, and, combined, they pollinate one out of every third bite of food we eat. Take some time this week to notice all of the pollinators in your garden and download this helpful guide from the Brookside Gardens staff to get you started.
Maryland Native Plants
You can take care of wildlife in your backyard by choosing native plants, like this trout lily! Native plants provide habitat for native pollinators and other wildlife. Stroll through your yard and make a native plant wish list! Use this list as a reference.
Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
In honor of Pollinator Week, we are shedding light on Maryland’s State Insect, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. This beautiful black butterfly is covered in covered in white and orange spots and flutters around wet meadows in the summer. This once common butterfly, is now a rarity here in Maryland due to habitat loss. But do not worry, volunteers across the state are getting together to bring back our state butterfly by planting its native host plant, the white turtlehead. If you would like to learn more about the Baltimore Checkerspot and how you can become involved in its conservation efforts, check out these resources from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (Rare, Threatened and Endangered Animal Fact Sheet and Protecting Maryland’s State Insect) and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
It is National Pollinator Week, and it’s a great time to get your family outdoors to look for pollinators! One of our favorites is the butterfly. Enjoy looking for butterflies visiting flowers and have your children draw their favorite and post it in the comments of the post on the Brookside Gardens Facebook page.
How many different butterflies can you spy? Will it be a swallowtail, white or sulphur, gossamer, metalmark, brushfoot, wood nymph, or skipper? We look forward to seeing your favorite!
Brookside Gardens Greenhouse Virtual Tour
Join Brookside Gardens’ Greenhouse Manager Nate Roehrich for a virtual tour of the newly constructed greenhouse and the 30,000 summer annuals being grown inside.
Join Brookside Gardens’ horticulturalist Jim Deramus as he highlights the rainbow of colors created by the more than 300 blooming azaleas in our gardens.
Brookside Garden’s Children’s Program Horticulturist, Lynn Richards teaches the basics of flower reproduction and how pollinators help nature continue to survive.
Even though our facilities are currently closed, Montgomery Parks and Brookside Gardens are adapting our education programming to offer you online learning opportunities. Check out this free video to learn helpful design tips as you plan your summer garden and register for our upcoming programs below.
Rose Garden in Full Bloom
Join Brookside Gardens’ rosarian Roger Haynes as he explores the Rose Garden with more than 100 varieties of roses in bloom.
Sustainable Gardening Techniques
Join Brookside Gardens’ horticulturalist Jeanette Proudfoot as she discusses organic fertilizing methods used to promote healthy growth of summer annuals.
Stone and Plant Updates in the Gude Garden
Join Brookside Gardens’ horticulturalist Joshua Demers as he discusses the design concepts behind the stone work in the Japanese Garden on Gude Island.
Look Under A Rock
Tiny worlds live in your backyard. Look for rocks in your backyard and gently flip them over. Take a look! What did you find? Gently put the rock back and take care to not squish any inhabitants!
Tree Inventory Map/Star Magnolia
Star magnolias are blooming around the parks. What about other trees? Get to know the trees in our parks with Montgomery Parks’ Tree Inventory Map! Each tree is surveyed, given a number, and its data entered into the map. So, discover more about our trees and learn about their benefits.
Blue is a rare color in flowers, but there are a number of spring flowering plants that are easy to grow. Here are a few of our favorites.
Share what is growing in your garden in the comments section on the Brookside Gardens Facebook page!
It’s Nesting Time
Spring brings the sound of bird songs, which means that baby birds will soon be on the way! It is not really easy to see what happens in a nest, but thank goodness there are nest cams out there for us to watch.
To get you started, try watching one of the three nest cams run by the Chesapeake Conservancy. There is the Peregrine Falcon and the Great Blue Heron (both currently incubating eggs) and the Osprey, which are just about done building their nests for this season.
What is Outside Your Window?
It is springtime and nature is moving fast! In our typical, harried lives, we do not usually take time to look out our windows every day. So let’s use this opportunity to make some window observations. Choose your favorite window view, and around the same time each day, document what you see.
Make sure to visit the Black Hill Nature Programs Facebook page to see what their staff members are observing outside their window as they work from home.
Examining tulips up-close, we can enjoy the subtle colors and symmetry of this beautiful flower. The Brookside Gardens staff has posted pictures of some of the tulips blooming in their gardens on their Facebook page. What do you notice about these tulips? Post your observations in the comments section of the post on the Brookside Gardens Facebook page.
Parts of a Plant
Learn about the parts of a plant with Black Hill Nature Facility and Programs Manager Jen Scully.
Brookside Gardens Spring Emphemerals
Join Brookside Gardens’ horticulturalist Phil Normandy as he explores the spring ephemerals in the Fortieth Grove.
Fragrance Garden Tulips at Brookside Gardens
Join Horticulturist Jim Deramus in the Fragrance Garden for a look at the tulip display.
Virtual Walk of Trial Garden
Take a virtual walk in the Trial Garden with Horticulturist Kelley Heim to learn about this year’s tulip plantings.
Old Fashioned Fun Games
Games have been a favorite family pastime for centuries. Ring toss, or quoits, as it was called in the eighteenth century, originated in Greece at the Olympic Games. Pick up sticks, originally called jack straws, was first played by Native Americans using straws of wheat or branches. Archeologists think that ancient Egyptians invented bowling by using large rocks, then settlers brought the game to America in 1670.
Click on this link to PBS Kids for instructions on how to make bowling pins out of water bottles.
Figure Skating Bingo
BINGO! Play a round of figure skating bingo with our unique bingo card. Mark off each one that you have experienced or that directly applies to you in your figure skating career and post your completed bingo card in the comments on the Wheaton Ice Arena Facebook page!
Visit the Cabin John Ice Rink Facebook page and test your hockey knowledge with this hockey trivia activity.
19th Century Fun – Marbles
Many of us have seen a marble, the spherical toy often made of glass. But, how many of us know how to play a game of marbles?
Marbles, both the toy and the game, was very popular with children during the nineteenth century. It so popular that the term “Lose your marbles” was used to express the feeling of being upset or frustrated. Playing marbles is a great way to spend time indoors with the family.
The children in the photo are enjoying a game of marbles, which is not recommended for children three years and younger, due to potential choking hazard.
Check out this video on how to play your own game of marbles at home.
19th Century Fun – Cup and Ball Activity
What toys did children in the nineteenth century play with for fun? One toy was the cup and ball, which is a lot harder to master than it may seem. Check out this PBS Kids video that will show you how to make your own cup and ball toy.
Learn to Say “I Love to Skate” in Ten Languages
Learn how to say “”I Love to Skate!”” in the ten most spoken languages in Montgomery County.
-Match the “”I love to skate!”” phrase on the right with the correct language listed on the left.
-Whether you write them down or try pronouncing them aloud, you will learn a new way to tell your neighbors and friends about an activity that you love to do!
Tip: Use Google Translate to learn how to pronounce the phrase in each language.
-Click the speaker button in the translation box to hear the correct pronunciation.”
Post a photo of your completed work or a video of you saying “I love to skate” in another language!
Virtual Visit of Black Hill Regional Park
Missing the park? Take a virtual visit with Chronolog and see the back of the Visitor Center looking over the lake, the meadow, the forest fire area and Little Seneca Creek. All the photos were taken by our visitors on their cell phones (and added to the site.)
To see nature change every day, visit the Black Hill Regional Park Chronolog website.
Our ice skating rinks and historical sites staffs have created word searches to keep your family busy and learning while at home. Click below for a collection of word search puzzles.
Speed Skating Math Problems
We all know that speed skaters are fast. Try solving the math problems in this worksheet from education.com to discover just how much ice they can cover in different scenarios.
Ice Skating Spelling Activity
How good is your spelling? Put your spelling skills to the test with this ice skating spelling activity sheet from our friends at Cabin John Ice Rink.
Want to find a fun way to get to know your local birds? Then play Bird Bingo! See which bird species like to hang out in our own backyard.
If you see a bird you do not recognize, mark it in the “Mystery Bird” space. You can later try to identify your “Mystery Bird” using one of these resources: The Cornell Lab Online Bird Guide or download the free Merlin Bird Identification app by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Vignettes: Let’s Play a Victorian Parlor Game
The Victorian era, spanning from the 1830s to 1901, embraced a love of art, music, literature, and clothing that captured a grandeur and beauty inspired by the interests of England’s Queen Victoria, for whom the era was named.
Art, in particular, became more accessible to the masses during this period, and no less than six major artistic movements arose from this time: Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, and Art Nouveau. Because of this rise in interest in the arts, a common pastime at parties was a game called Vignettes.
Visit the Agricultural Farm History Park Facebook page for instructions on how to play their Vignettes game.