Parent Express

Below you’ll find excerpts from articles written by our staff, that are published each month in the Parent Express.

What’s that Tree? February 2018
Take a walk in the woods this winter and try to identify the trees you encounter – it’s not easy. Most people today have lost touch with the natural environment that surrounds us. That close cultural relationship with trees has faded away, much like the battery in your old iPhone. Wouldn’t it be nice to at least be able to know which tree is which in the forest? Wouldn’t it greatly enhance your and your kids’ appreciation and enjoyment of them? Read the full article HERE!

A Red Blue Moon, January 2018
Blue moons are near and dear to my heart, as I eloped on the New Year’s Eve blue moon of 1990. This year, 2018, boasts two blue moons – the first blue moon arrives on Jan. 31 and the second one is close behind on March 31.  What is a blue moon, and why all the buzz?  Read the full article HERE!

There’s Treasure Everywhere, December 2017
Are there any “Calvin & Hobbes” fans out there? If so, you might remember the comic collection cover that featured the ecstatic boy, Calvin, standing in the middle of a dirt pit holding up a worm, while the tiger, Hobbes, stares in rapture at an unearthed rock. This action is frozen beneath the title, “There’s Treasure Everywhere!” This truth of childhood makes every walk outside an adventure. Read the full article HERE!

Hide-and-Seek on the Forest Floor, November 2017
Let’s step out into our gray and brisk November weather and explore the forest floor. The deciduous trees have shed their leaves in preparation for the coming snow. A carpet of leaves covers the earth again, creating a realm of hide-and-seek among the club mosses, tree roots, fallen branches and nuts. Read the full article HERE!

Acorns, Acorns, Everywhere! October 2017
October is in full swing here in Windham and Cheshire counties, and we can all see the signs. The leaves have changed into their autumn attire and have begun to fall. The air is chilly and crisp, making it harder and harder to get out of our warm beds in the morning. Read the full article HERE!

Have Seeds, Will Travel, September 2017
With the passing of summer’s long days, brilliant greens and showy owers, comes the season of soft browns, modest asters and the tiny world of seeds. On the surface, the world seems to be slowing down. Yet a careful look reveals a great deal of activity in both the animal and plant worlds. Read the full article HERE!

Perseids – Not to Be Eclipsed by the Eclipse, August 2017
Most people think of August as sunny days filled with swimming, biking and picnicking. But one of the most exciting parts of August to share with your family happens at night: the Perseid meteor showers. View the full article HERE!

Raising an Environmental Steward, July 2017
The most basic thing you can do to protect our local lands is to spend family time outside, engaging with the outdoors, enjoying our plentiful green spaces. Enjoyment fosters curiosity and learning, all essential ingredients for us and our children if we are to dedicate time and energy to protecting our natural resources. View the full article HERE!

Create a Bug Safari, June 2017
Some of my most vivid memories of childhood summer days involve the discovery of insects. In fact, when I want to remind myself of the feeling of wonder that deines childhood, these are the memories I reach for. View the full article HERE!

Nature Play and the Brain, May 2017
Leading a pack of 6-year-old boys along BEEC’s trails, we spotted a latticework of fallen trees and vines. The boys swarmed it, shimmying up a 45-degree-angled limb, challenging themselves by peeking at the five feet of air below them, hugging the log with all four limbs… View the full article HERE!

Timberdoodling, April 2017
April is here, the best month for viewing one of our most unusual birds performing a most unusual ritual – the American woodcock’s sky dance. Woodcock watching is a ine rite of spring and can become a wonderful family tradition.  View the full article HERE!

Pepper on Snow, March 2017
Can you imagine a creature so small that you could easily
mistake it for a speck of pepper and yet so abundant that it
is one of the most common land creatures in the world? View the full article HERE!

Secrets Under the Snow, February 2017
In winter it seems that stillness dominates the land. Beneath the cold glaze, however, nature is active as ever. Thinking about what’s happening beneath the snowpack can open a new winter-wonderland for your child… View the full article HERE!

Delicate Survivors, January 2017Chickadee in Winter
A first look at an over-wintering bird seems to present a fragile-bodied waif, vulnerable to the cruel winds, ices and freezing temperatures of the season. How do they hop around bare-footed without losing their claws to frostbite? How can their metabolism muster heat enough to counter bitter chills, especially with so little food around?  View the full article HERE!

parentexpress_20161130_p19Following the Moon, December 2016
“Is the moon following me?” We have all heard questions like this from our little ones, who are naturally curious about the moon. With the longest nights of the year here, this is the time for moon watching, so let’s bundle up and head outside after dark!  View the full article HERE!

Observing Winter Foragers, November 2016pe-second-nature-16-11-observing-winter-foragers
The harvests are in, our bounty is put up and a season of feasting is planned to reassure us as the sun slips low in the sky. In the winter animal kingdom, however, some intrepid souls persist in foraging for food throughout winter, mano-a-mano with this lean season.  View the full article HERE!

leaf-sun-printWonder of the Leaf, October 2016
For deciduous trees, summer is a rush against time; between their first bursting out of lime-green leaflets to their bright, dying embers of fall color, these trees pack-in all the growth allotted per year.  This October, as we take time to observe our jeweled foliage, let’s go deeper into appreciating the leaf’s particular wonder… View the full article HERE!

Welcome Opossum!, September 2016welcome
The Virginia opossum seems designed for life on a different sort of planet, one on which life happens slowly, where temperatures are warm and predators few.  Still, somehow opossums not only survive on our planet but they have been slowly expanding their range northward. They first arrived in Vermont about 30 years ago. The opossum has many distinctive features… View the full article HERE!

Unicorn, Caterpillar, Moth – Oh My!, August 2016
On a recent afternoon as I was climbing an apple tree in my orchard, I encountered an unusual creature that I had never before seen.  It had a mottled brown head and various shades of tan-brown along its entire body – except for a bright green band just below its head. And to make matters even more unusual, between its head and green collar it had a single horn, with a second horn near the tip of the tail.  Have you ever seen such a thing?  View the full article HERE!

Exploring the Creepy Crawlies Down Under, July 2016worms
This time of year is very exciting for the naturalists amongst us.  There is a world that comes alive at this time of year, full of excitement, and wonder.  The world I am talking about is the ground below our feet.  The soil, which provides anchorage and nutrients for all the plants we see, is also a world unto its own.  View the full article HERE!


Watching Fireflies, June 2016
June is the month when our meadows begin to twinkle with the magic of fireflies.  Who among us does not have childhood memories of watching and catching these mysterious beetles?  This summer, we encourage you to plan some special firefly evenings with your children.  View the full article HERE!

Wanted: Field Biologists for the Future, May 2016field biologist
The title “field biologist” may sound daunting, and “the future” may seem far away, but in reality they are both close at hand. The key skills possessed by a field biologist – one who studies plants and/or animals, and the ecosystems in which they live – is astonishingly similar to the innate skills and interests of many young children. And, tomorrow is never as far away as it feels in the present moment.  View the full article HERE!

stargazing diary

Celebrate the Vernal Equinox, April 2016
Spring has sprung! Spring is the season of new beginnings and one of four seasonal changes. Animals awaken from their burrows, flowers begin to show their first signs of buds and the earth starts to liven once again. But what causes this seasonal change?  The changing of the seasons is a wonderful time to learn about the relationship between the Earth and the Sun. View the full article HERE!

Sweetness Rising, March 2016bare branches
The days are getting longer and the sun is getting stronger. With the fluctuating temperatures of spring the sap within trees begins to flow again. The starch stored in tree roots over the winter is converted into sugars and flows up in the sap. Yes, March is the time of wonderful sweet maple syrup. We’re not the only ones who enjoy the flowing sap of spring. View the full article HERE!fox

Animals in Wintertime, February 2016
Baby, it’s cold outside, and with no snow cover on the ground – brrr! What are you doing to stay warm? Do you wonder what chickadees, shrews and groundhogs are doing on winter nights? For non-migrating animals, this temperature, coupled with the lack of a blanket of snow, makes for a cold night indeed. Animals that overwinter in Vermont must cope with not only the cold, but also the limited supply of food.  View the full article HERE!

Celebrating Snowflakes, January 2016
Winter is such a beautiful season, with the sparkle of frost and snow. This January, BEEC invites you to celebrate snowflakes! With luck, this month with bring the cold temperatures that grow the biggest and most beautiful snowflakes – temperatures in the single digits.  If there is moisture in the air on such cold days you are mostly likely to see the classic snowflakes, called stellar dendrites (stars with tree-like branching). On such days, be sure to bundle your kids up and head outside for a snowflake safari.  View the full article HERE!

winter walk

Winter Detective Walk, December 2015
A winter walk at this time of year might seem like a silly (or cold) idea without the brightly colored leaves or seeds scattered all over the ground, but I can assure you, nature is still ready to excite you! Winter walks are a great way for you and your child to explore and get familiarized with the changing seasons at their own pace.  Even though snow is the main topic of winter, there are plenty of other things to observe if snow has yet to arrive.  View the full article HERE!

Lie Down and Look, November 2015 tree
November is a transitional month of cold, wet gray. The colorful leaves are gone, the warmth of the sun is waning and we are waiting for the snow. It is easy to feel blue, so maybe what we need is a change in our point of view. Let’s embrace the world of gray and see what is has to offer us. Let’s step outside and lie down and look.  View the full article HERE!

tickThe Tick Patrol, October 2015
This is the time of the year to be outdoors enjoying all that nature and autumn have to offer. Yet recently there has become more awareness of the dangers of Lyme disease. It has nothing to do with limes, but it does have to do with those creepy, tiny bugs called ticks that like to drink human blood… View the full article HERE!

Milkweed and Monarch, September 2015caterpillar
Parents will remember that not so many years ago, monarch butterflies were a beautiful and common sight during September. Over the past few years, however, these big orange butterflies have become very rare. There are a number of reasons for this decline, but the most important is the loss of the plant that these caterpillars depend upon: milkweed. View the full article HERE!

Eco-friendly Gardening, August 2015toad house
As you enjoy your garden in all its glory and bounty this month, we’d like to share with you an eco-friendly gardening technique. Let’s create and celebrate an ecosystem in your garden!  This approach will provide you with opportunities for observations of the beauty and mystery of nature. For a happy garden you want a healthy ecosystem which is good for everyone’s health and peace of mind, as the use of supplements as kratom capsules and other relaxation therapies.  View the full article HERE!

It’s a Bat! July 2015
If you’re out on warm summer evenings, just as the sun sets, you may be lucky enough to see something flying in the sky. Most likely it’s not a bird, but a bat out for a nightly feeding.  Bats are mammals, not birds. They have fur, not feathers, give birth to live young and feed their young milk. However, bats are very special mammals as they are the only mammals that can fly.  View the full article HERE!

mushroomLetters for the Creatures, June 2015
In the February issue we showed ways for developing awareness of nature, and a perfect addition is to develop feelings of connection with nature. There are many ways to do this, but one we’ve discovered here at BEEC is to write nature a letter. When expressing ourselves in a letter, the feelings that come with our passing thoughts last longer than usual so that we can feel connected to nature on a more regular basis. View the full article HERE!

For the Birds, May 2015 nest
May is the month for nesting, at least if you are a bird. We hear about it each dawn as the birds announce their place in the world with enthusiastic chorus. More quietly, and throughout the day, they go about the serious business of finding a place to make a nest, and then beginning construction. View the full article HERE!

artCreate Art in Nature, April 2015
Our emotions are inherently tied to the seasons and the spring is the perfect time to be creative, coming forth from our winter shell to explore new possibilities. A family-friendly outdoor activity that is perfect for the season and appropriate for all ages is making nature art. Using the earth as your canvas, rocks, leaves, bark and feathers can be transformed intentionally into spirals, animals, towers and abstract shapes. The possibilities are endless. Anyone, regardless of age, can tap into their artistic side to make natural art. View the full article HERE!

Animal Awareness, March 2015
Exploring our senses can foster our connection to the world around us. The more aware we are when outside, the more we will notice the presence of other creatures around us. If your senses are really alert maybe you’ll notice those hiding animals that are watching you. Are you ready to turn on your animal senses? View the full article HERE!

snowhikeTake a Hike, February 2015
“Baby, it’s cold outside.” This is a phrase we’ve been hearing a lot of recently. Unfortunately, the cold keeps many folks indoors in the winter, watching TV or playing computer games with different sites online that show you how to play overwatch and more, when they could be in the great out-of-doors enjoying the wonders that are found in the wintertime cold.  The winter months are a wonderful time to explore the woods for families.  View the full article HERE!

Enjoying Nature in Unlikely Times, January 2015mouse
Nature is a place of beauty and wonder. Below our feet, in the sky and everywhere we look there are unique living and nonliving things. Through our senses we can tap into nature at any time: we can hear the sweet sounds of birds in the trees; follow the tracks of animals imagining their secret lives; look at strange forms of life such as insects and fungi; or simply feel a cool breeze blowing on our faces. View the full article HERE!