Print Logo


  • How Do Snakes Hear?

    Created: 4/20/2020      Updated: 4/20/2020

    Have you ever wondered how snakes hear? They don't have ears like we do, but they do have a a special jawbone! Marorjoie explains more in the video below!

    Have a question for our scientists to answer? Drop us a line at Then be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more awesome animal facts.

    View Comments

  • Poems While You Wait Inside

    Created: 4/15/2020      Updated: 4/18/2020

    Art adds a powerful dimension to interpreting nature and nature is often a powerful inspiration for many artists. We celebrate this connection every day at the Nature Museum from rotating art shows to crafting activities at our family events. 

    Poetry is one of the most intimate ways to reflect on our connectedness with Nature. We asked our poet friends at Poems While You Wait to share some of their favorite nature-inspired poetry and add a note on why they chose their selected poems. The poets also included links to their social media accounts, so you can check out their own work. You can also learn more, and comission your own poem, on their website.

    You can write your own poems as well! There is always inspiration in nature, whether you’re on a walk or just looking out the window. Take a few minutes with these recommendations and consider trying a poem yourself Look to nature and see what you find!


    “From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee 

    From blossoms comes 

    this brown paper bag of peaches 

    we bought from the boy 

    at the bend in the road where we turned toward 

    signs painted Peaches. 


    From laden boughs, from hands, 

    from sweet fellowship in the bins, 

    comes nectar at the roadside, succulent 

    peaches we devour, dusty skin and all, 

    comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. 


    O, to take what we love inside, 

    to carry within us an orchard, to eat 

    not only the skin, but the shade, 

    not only the sugar, but the days, to hold 

    the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into 

    the round jubilance of peach. 


    There are days we live 

    as if death were nowhere 

    in the background; from joy 

    to joy to joy, from wing to wing, 

    from blossom to blossom to 

    impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom. 

    Poems While You Wait’s Danielle Levsky (she/her) is a Post-Soviet Jewish writer, clown, actor, and instructional designer. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website

    Of her recommendation, she writes: “Li-Young Lee was introduced to me by my high school Creative Writing teacher. His poems about braiding and cities always felt connected to the ground, the Earth these ideas sprouted from and rooted within. ‘From Blossoms’ has been my favorite homage to the sweetness of warm weather, to the sweetness of summer love, to the sweetness of gardens.” 

    XLIX by Oshikochi No Mitsune 

    (translated by Kenneth Rexroth in One Hundred Poems from the Japanese)

    The white chrysanthemum 

    Is disguised by the first frost. 

    If I wanted to pick one 

    I could find it only by chance. 


    Poems While You Wait’s Caro Macon Fleischer is a Texas-born, Chicago-based writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter.

    Of her recommendation, she writes, “When I was in high school, my mom gave me this book One Hundred Poems from the Japanese translated by Kenneth Rexroth. I always thought they were all so short and beautiful. It's a very used copy that is now held together by tape and binder clips. It has a lot of my mom's personal notes in the margins, from when she was in her twenties. Since they are so short I've memorized a lot of them and they have stuck with me over the years. I always think about this one especially during springtime. There are also a lot of love poems in the collection that bring in nature that I think of often and adore.

    The Panther by Rainier Maria Rilke 

    His vision, from the constantly passing bars, 

    has grown so weary that it cannot hold 

    anything else. It seems to him there are 

    a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world. 


    As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, 

    the movement of his powerful soft strides 

    is like a ritual dance around a center 

    in which a mighty will stands paralyzed. 


    Only at times, the curtain of the pupils 

    lifts, quietly—. An image enters in, 

    rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles, 

    plunges into the heart and is gone. 


    Poem’s While You Wait’s Lisa Farver is a poet and improviser based in Chicago. She has performed her work at Women Made Gallery, Chicago Poetry Brothel, and other venues throughout the city. Follow her on Twitter.

    Of her recommendation, she writes, “Rilke's panther captures the ache of the chasm that still yawns between nature and man.” 

    Place by W.S. Merwin 

    On the last day of the world 

    I would want to plant a tree 


    what for

    not the fruit 


    the tree that bears the fruit 

    is not the one that was planted 


    I want the tree that stands 

    in the earth for the first time 


    with the sun already 

    going down 


    and the water 

    touching its roots 


    in the earth full of the dead 

    and the clouds passing 


    one by one 

    over its leaves 


    Dave Landsberger is a founding member of Poems While You Wait.

    Of his recommendation, he writes, “No famous modern poets have dedicated themselves more to rejuvenating, learning from, and protecting the Earth than W.S. Merwin. This is perhaps his most signature poem, and it gains even greater significance 38 years after it was published.” 

    “The Fury of Sunrises” by Anne Sexton 


    as black as your eyelid 

    poketricks of stars, 

    the yellow mouth, 

    the smell of a stranger, 

    dawn coming up, 

    dark blue, 

    no stars, 

    the smell of a lover, 

    warmer now 

    as authentic as soap, 

    wave after wave 

    of lightness 

    and the birds in their chains 

    going mad with throat noises, 

    the birds in their tracks 

    yelling into their cheeks like clowns, 

    lighter, lighter, 

    the stars gone, 

    the trees appearing in their green hoods, 

    the house appearing across the way, 

    the road and its sad macadam, 

    the rock walls losing their cotton, 

    lighter, lighter, 

    letting the dog out and seeing 

    fog lift by her legs, 

    a gauze dance, 

    lighter, lighter, 

    yellow, blue at the tops of trees, 

    more God, more God everywhere, 

    lighter, lighter, 

    more world everywhere, 

    sheets bent back for people, 

    the strange heads of love 

    and breakfast, 

    that sacrament, 

    lighter, yellower, 

    like the yolk of eggs, 

    the flies gathering at the windowpane, 

    the dog inside whining for food 

    and the day commencing, 

    not to die, not to die, 

    as in the last day breaking, 

    a final day digesting itself, 

    lighter, lighter, 

    the endless colors, 

    the same old trees stepping toward me, 

    the rock unpacking its crevices, 

    breakfast like a dream 

    and the whole day to live through, 

    steadfast, deep, interior. 

    After the death, 

    after the black of black, 

    this lightness— 

    not to die, not to die— 

    that God begot. 


    Poem’s While You Wait’s Eric Plattner was born in Los Angeles in October. Of his recommendation, he writes: “Because nature, like Sexton's poetry, should shock you awake.” 

    The Field of Poppies by Peter Balakian 

    for my mother 

    Cypress spiral to the sky. 

    Painters came here because 

    the dirt was dry as their bones, 

    because even the monastery on the hill 

    flaked each day. 

    You want a picture of yourself 

    in this poppy field; 

    wind blowing the long grass 

    around your legs, 

    fields of yellow flower across 

    the road moving away from you. 

    The high mountain is where 

    the town’s saint disappeared 

    with his wound. 

    When he returned 

    peach trees sprouted from rock, 

    and the gray clouds left the mountain. 


    Cypress spiral to the sky. 

    Your father found this field 

    and the mountain uncovered, 

    the monastery a pure glint of sun. 

    You want this picture 

    to show your body disappearing 

    in the red waves of flower, 

    a field of pin-pricks 

    rising and falling in the breeze, 

    each step spreading the red 

    over your joints.


    You want the red to cover 

    the mountain, 

    you want the line where 

    sky and land meet 

    to turn the color of the heart. 

    This is how your father left; 

    foot, knee, stomach, face 

    disappearing in the stain of this field, 

    in the light wind that sang 

    in the red flowers. 

    Poems While You Wait’s Hajrije Kolimja is an Albanian American writer in Chicago who enjoys reading and writing about women from diasporic communities.

    Of her recommendation, she writes, “This poem captures how people and history are forever linked to nature, how we struggle with the desire to make new memories in tragic places.”

    View Comments

  • 7 Consejos Para Enseñar Naturaleza Y Ciencia En Casa

    Created: 4/13/2020      Updated: 4/16/2020

    Blog en inglés

    Para ayudar que nuestras familias se sientan preparadas para enseñar en casa, el museo de naturaleza (Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum) ha creado un boletín que se centra en educación en el hogar. Cada e-mail da a los padres, guardianes, y educadores el material por un dia que se centra en la naturaleza y los topicos cientificos. Sabemos que la enseñanza en casa no es una habilidad natural para muchos de nosotros, entonces no les preocupan--estamos aquí para ayudarlos.

    Cada día, los educadores del museo también trabajan con los maestros en el área de Chicago. Los maestros estan ganando confianza y comodidad enseñando ciencias. Sabemos que los maestros apoyados conducen a más tiempo dedicado a la ciencia y a un aprendizaje de mayor calidad para los estudiantes.

    image description

    1. No necesitas saber todo del contenido científico!

    Usa esta oportunidad para mostrar a tu científico que todos aprendemos por vida. No hay edad donde paramos de aprender. Aprecia la incertidumbre y aprende junto a tu científico. Recuerda: los hechos no son las cosas mas importante en la ciencia -- la ciencia es un proceso de curiosidad, maravilla, y exploración. En lugar de centrarse en conocer hechos, involucra a tu cientifico con hacer preguntas, investigaciones, y compartir explicaciones en el proceso de descubrimiento.

    image description

    2. Despierta la curiosidad y fomenta las maravillas!

    Hay muchas maneras para hacer esto, pero una manera favorita de nosotros es traer cosas naturalezas adentro de la casa. Tu científico puede hacer observaciones y preguntas.

    No puedes traer la naturaleza adentro? No hay una problema. Ve videos, mira por la ventana, o mira unas imágenes. Luego, escribe preguntas y observaciones de las maravillas (puedes usar un papel pegado a la pared) y ustedes pueden volver y investigar las preguntas más tarde. Aquí es un buen recurso que explica el poder de hacer preguntas a tu científico.

    Trata de encontrar una manera de recordar las preguntas de tu científico. Estamos en la primavera, así que va a haber muchos cambios de la naturaleza para investigar.

    image description

    3. Ayuda a tu científico a hacer conexiones y conducir su propio aprendizaje.

    Como científicos, no estamos “aprendiendo sobre”, pero “estamos descubriendo”. Alienta y apoya a tu científico a buscar las respuesta a sus propias preguntas. Puedes usar preguntas abiertas como “¿Qué ves que te hace decir eso?” o “Por que piensas que _____ está haciendo ____?”

    image description
    image description

    5. Usa la tecnología para ver más cerca y pensar más profundamente sobre el mundo natural!

    Hay muchas maneras geniales de usar la tecnologia para conectar con el mundo natural--y contribuir a la comunidad científica en al mismo tiempo. Trata de usar estas:

    -El sitio web:
    -La aplicación de telefono iNaturalist (o para los estudiantes jóvenes, también hay Seek por iNaturalist)
    -Celebra los pájaros urbanos del laboratorio de Cornell o ornitología
    -El proyecto de “Budburst” con el jardín botánico de Chicago.
    -Ver la fauna silvestre de Chicago: puedes ayudar a los científicos para entender los animales que viven en la ciudad. Identifica los que han observado en la camera.

    image description

    6. Fomenta el aprendizaje socioemocional con la naturaleza cerca.

    La naturaleza es un instrumento poderoso pora nuestro bienestar socioemocional. Pasa tiempo afuera cada dia -o trae la naturaleza adentro- para practicar atención plena / centrar la atención y experimentar maravilla, creatividad, conexión, y los sentimientos de alegría y calma. Camina alrededor de la cuadra o alienta a tu científico jugar afuera.

    image description

    7. ¡No te olvides: el aprendizaje de ciencia está ocurriendo a todas las edades!

    La exploración de la naturaleza es apropiada para todas las edades. Nuestros científicos jóvenes pueden usar sus sentidos para explorar y notar las cosas alrededor de ellos, y nuestros científicos más grandes pueden buscar interacciones/conexiones entre las cosas vivas y sus hábitats.

    Esperamos que estos consejos sean útiles cuando estes apoyando a tu científico durante el aprendizaje de la naturaleza y la ciencia en casa. Sabemos que la enseñanza en casa es un mundo nuevo para muchas familias, pero aún puedes tener excelentes lecciones de ciencias.

    No te olvides suscribir al boletín. Cada dia, enviamos actividades de naturaleza y ciencias que puedes hacer en casa.

    View Comments

  • Why Are Box Turtles Called Box Turtles?

    Created: 4/9/2020      Updated: 4/9/2020

    Have you ever wondered why box turtles are called box turtles? There's a very good reason, and it has to do with their shells! Check out the video below to hear more about box turtles from Rebecca.

    Love turtles as much as we do? Check out our colording sheets and download them using the buttons below.

    Box Turtle Coloring Sheet     Spotted Turtle Coloring Sheet     Alligator Snapping Turtle Coloring Sheet     Blanding's Turtle Coloring Sheet    

    Want to download them to import into your favorite phone or tablet coloring app? Click the buttons below.

    Box Turtle Coloring Sheet     Spotted Turtle Coloring Sheet     Alligator Snapping Turtle Coloring Sheet     Blanding's Turtle Coloring Sheet    

    Have a question for our scientists to answer? Drop us a line at

    View Comments

  • Top 5 Ways to Engage With Nature

    Created: 4/1/2020      Updated: 4/6/2020

    Year in and year out, our education team provides more direct teaching than any other museum in the city of Chicago. We used that experience and expertise to discover their top five ways for kids and students to engage with nature, and explore some support tips for caregivers and educators.

    image description

    1. Make observations!

    Take a little time each day to do some noticing. Whether you take a walk around the block, observe something in your yard, or look at the tree out of your window, there is so much to observe! What changes do you see from day to day?

    Tips for Adults/Educators: 

    A naturalist is a scientist who studies nature through careful observations and asking questions. Encourage your scientist to see, hear, smell, and feel. Ask them questions like “What do you notice?” 

    You can help focus your scientists observations by using a small things finder (a popsicle stick with a dot on it) or a focus frame.

    Take it a step further and add observations to an online community science database! There are many platforms that you can contribute your scientist’s observations to. Some suggestions to get you started:

    image description

    2. Record your noticings!

    Make the most of enjoying and sharing all of your observations by keeping track of them. Make a “nature notebook” to use pictures and words to record all the cool things you’re observing. Practice a scientific skill by doing some scientific drawing. Be sure to look closely to draw what you see--include details and use labels. Drawing is a great way to solidify understanding!

    Need an idea to get started? Try a nature window - pick a spot to record some observations each day and see what changes over time and what stays the same. Or pick a plant nearby to observe and notice seasonal changes.

    Tips for Adults/Educators: 

    A scientific drawing is a record of all of the great observations your scientist is making. Remind scientists that they don’t need to be a ‘good artist’ to do a scientific drawing, but rather a careful observer. Be sure to include details they are noticing and use labels.

    Check out this video to learn about the incredibly powerful effects of drawing on learning: Why Kids Should Draw More (edutopia video) 

    Scientific drawings can be done by scientists of all ages!

    • Early elementary: scientists focus on recording things they can see or feel.
    • Upper elementary: scientists may include things that they can’t see or feel but can see evidence of (observe plants grow, what do they need?)
    • Middle school: scientists may observe to understand interactions between living and nonliving things. 
    • Young adult/Adult variation: scientists may look at a larger scale by comparing and contrasting interactions happening in different ecosystems, or look closer in and add ideas to explain the function behind the interactions.
    image description

    3. Ask questions!

    We are naturally curious, so embrace all of those questions. Put them on a wonder wall to come back to later. It’s okay not to know the answers to all of your scientists’ questions--take the opportunity to explore alongside them and ask your own questions to inspire more wonderings.

    Tips for Adults/Educators: 

    Use open-ended questioning techniques to help young scientists think and make connections. Open-ended questions: Require an explanation that doesn’t have one “correct” answer - (e.g. what do you notice about insect bodies vs. how many legs does an insect have?) Close-ended questions: Can be answered with a “yes” or “no” or one specific answer (do insects have eight legs? No. How many legs do insects have? 6)

    Gather your scientists’ questions on a wonder wall--post questions on post-it notes or jot them down on a piece of paper...capture them somewhere! And then group them together to help think about the types of things we’re wondering about the natural world around us.

    image description

    4. Embrace the social emotional power of nature and wonder!

    Nature is a powerful tool in our social and emotional wellbeing! Take advantage of all it has to offer for us. Take some time outside each day--or bring nature indoors by bringing in natural objects and plants inside to explore.

    Tips for Adults/Educators:

    Utilizing nature, whether going outdoors or bringing natural objects inside is a great way to provide some whole child learning while at home.

    Child-led play and cooperative learning activities are important for our students, too. These activities help students learn 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking. They also stimulate social-emotional growth by providing opportunities for scientists to set goals in their child-led activities and build positive relationships. P

    laying outdoors can solidify STEM content and practices by providing context for their learning.

    image description

    5. Create a nature model

    Inspired by your exploration of nature? Make a model of something that intrigues you. Get your craft supplies - some paper for drawing or look for odds and ends in your recycling - to recreate and showcase all of the things you are noticing around you. Be creative and share what you’ve discovered!

    Tips for Adults/Educators:

    Making models allows students to communicate what they have learned and make sense of their observation. A model doesn’t require any special tools or materials - a model can be a drawing that showcases close observations, or a 3D model that helps scientists think about different parts and their functions, or how parts interact with one another. Scientists can also revisit their models and continue to add or modify as they discover more about their topic of interest.

    We hope these tips will come in handy as you help your young scientists learn all about nature and science while at home. We know homeschooling is a new world to navigate for many families, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have great science lessons at home.

    Don’t forget to subscribe to our new daily newsletter where we’ll be sending daily science and nature activities you can do at home.

    View Comments

Mobile navigation