Manitoba remains at the critical level on the pandemic response system. Right now, it’s important that we stay home as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the nature right at our fingertips. You can do this scavenger hunt in your backyard, in a nearby park or during a walk with your family. Bonus points if you bring a garbage bag and pick up some trash you find along the way.
Almost everything in nature needs water. Can you guess how all these items need water?
Let’s explore nature! Can you find:
Can you see any water around you? It could be a drop, puddle, marsh, stream, river or lake. Or maybe you're doing this in the rain, surrounded by raindrops. Or in the chilly morning hours with drops of dew on the grass.
The water you see will soak into the ground, dry up and return to the air or travel through nearby water sources into Lake Winnipeg.
To find an insect, look closely at the ground. That's where you'll often see these crawling creatures. You might find one flying in the air, or perhaps you'll find one sitting or walking on a leaf or plant stem.
There are almost 700 types of insects in Manitoba. Insects need water too. Most of them don't have to drink it. They often get enough from sucking on plants or eating smaller insects.
You're most likely to find a pinecone if you look at or below a tree that has needles instead of leaves. These trees are known as "coniferous trees." Coniferous means they grow cones. These trees don't lose their needles in winter like trees whose leaves fall off when it gets cold.
It's called a "pinecone" since it comes from pine trees, and its shape is like a cone. They are often large and look kind of like wood. Pinecones keep tree seeds safe. When the weather gets warm enough, the cone opens, then the seeds can fly away to plant more trees.
If you're searching on a windy day, you might see a leaf or many leaves floating through the air. If it's a calm day, you can search the ground to find one.
Leaves come from "deciduous trees." Leaves fall off these trees in the fall and grow new green ones in the summer. You can often still find brown leaves from the fall on the ground in spring. Fallen leaves can give extra energy to plants. When they turn brown and break down, the soil absorbs the nutrients.
Trees need leaves to bring in energy from the sun. Leaves and trees need water to grow. A tree can absorb water through its leaves, but often the amount is tiny. Most of the water trees absorb comes from the ground through its roots.
Bonus points: look around you and try to figure out which tree the leaf may have fallen from.
Dandelions can have bright yellow flowers, white spheres of feathery-looking seeds made to float through the wind or top parts that are closed up while it's growing. You can find them in fields of grass, backyards or next to sidewalks.
Did you know that the word dandelion comes from the French term "dent-de-lion," which means "lion's tooth?" It's true.
Many people think dandelions are an annoying weed. But people have cooked these plants for food and used them to help soothe illnesses.
Without water, plants would be so thirsty they'd dry out and stop growing.
You can often find these plants growing in lawns or fields. They grow well in soil that people walk on, so you can also find them around sidewalks.
Like the dandelion, many think plantains are a weed. People also use these plants to create medicines. You can crush a plantain and rub it on your skin to help soothe bug bites or rashes from stinging plants. Like other plants, it would dry out and die without water.
Sometimes it's easier to see after see animal prints after it rains. Like us, animal's feet sink into the ground a bit when it gets muddy. If you're lucky, you might see prints from different types of animals, like rabbits, dogs and ducks.
Animal prints are like shoe prints that animals leave behind. Since they don't wear shoes, you can see the details of their toes and the shape of their feet.
All animals need water for energy so that their bodies work.
A good way to find a bird is to open your ears and listen. Can you hear any chirps or whistles? Look up in the sky and in the trees. Or maybe you'll find a bird sitting in a bush or walking on the ground.
There are nearly 400 different types of birds in Manitoba. Some birds live in the water, like geese and ducks. Other birds, like robins and chickadees, use water for drinking and bathing.
Stones aren't alive like plants and animals, so they are the only thing on this list that don't need water. Though water does help make them smoother and break them up into smaller and smaller stones. Did you know that's how we get sand? Sand is just really tiny pebbles that feel good between our toes.
When you're finished with this activity, ask your parents if you can keep the stone you found and use it for future fun. You could try painting or colouring rocks to create some homemade nature-inspired art or try to skip it across a pond.
How many can you find?
Until next time remember to stay curious, stay safe and stay lake friendly!