Category Archives: Science

Nature Walks and Scavenger Hunts

Peter Knippel Photography- Nature Walk

© Peter Knippel Photography

Hands-on experiences with nature are an important element in a child’s development. When given opportunities to explore, connect with nature, and experience its beauty children gain an understanding of the world around them.

Mother nature offers so many rich sensory experiences that can satisfy a child’s natural curiosity and provide endless opportunities to manipulate, collect and compare newly found treasures. In addition to lessons in science, children learn to label, identify and classify natural elements. They use found items as their own creations in their play. Sticks, twigs, acorns, pine cones, rocks, and leaves become the most versatile of toys; tools of the imagination.

This summer CCPRN hosted several Nature Walk and Scavenger Hunt events across the city. Julie prepared bags for the children to gather their treasures inside.

Nature Walk & Scavenger Hunt Bags

Click here for a free printable: nature walk scavenger hunt Checklist

As residents of Ottawa, we are so fortunate to have access to beautifully maintained nature trails and green spaces. So before summer’s end, be sure to get outside and encourage these experiences that promote an appreciation and lifelong respect for nature. Click here for a detailed list of trails within the Ottawa region.

Thanks for reading,

Signature - Jo

Daycare Science: Vermicomposting

What child doesn’t love to play with worms and dirt?!

Shelly Wright, a CCPRN home child care provider member is not only encouraging this kind of play, she’s using it to promote learning about life cycles and healthy environmental and nutritional practices.         And she’s doing it just in time for Earth Day coming up on April 22nd.

Being an avid gardener, Shelly purchased an extra compost bucket for this special project. The small bins from the City of Ottawa’s green bin waste program (available at Canadian Tire stores) are ideal for housing worms because they keep the light out but still allow for air to enter through the tiny holes on the lid. Using this kind of container, allows Shelly to store her composter indoors and use it year round.

vermicomposting 1

To start vermicomposting, Shelly put about 2 cups of earth from her garden into the bucket with some shredded newspaper and about half a dozen red wriggler worms*. She recommends placing just a small amount of food scraps into the bin every other day or so and adding egg shells to neutralize the acidity. It’s important to avoid putting in meat, dairy or animal waste.

Shelly involves the children by asking them cut the food scraps into small pieces with plastic knives and placing them into the bucket. They give it a stir and check up on the worms’ progress regularly.

Vermicomposting 2

Vermicomposting is just a small component of the many earth-friendly concepts that can be introduced to your children.

Children can observe and participate in using worms to create earth – which leads to using the fresh soil to plant seeds – then watching the seeds turn to vegetables we can eat – recycling the vegetable scraps to feed the worms – which in turn creates more earth!

 Shelly also put together a simple sensory bin on the composting theme to further enhance her daycare children’s learning through play.

Vermicomposting 3

She included dry soil, fake worms from the fishing section of her hardware store, pretend food, a magnifying glass, a bottle of water, spoons and cups for the children to play with indoors.

Vermicomposting 4

For more information about vermicomposting, check out these helpful sites:

Thanks for sharing Shelly and for inspiring us to do the same!

Signature - Jo

* It is important to purchase red wriggler worms.  Here in Ottawa we have been able to buy them from Arbour Environmental Shoppe,  but it has recently closed its Bank Street location. So in the meantime, you can check where to order from here:


Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, Megan Lloyd

This is one of my absolute favourite children’s books to read this time of the year.

It’s a touching tale about a woman who hates pumpkins so much she can’t even stand to look at them. Her world is turned upside-down when she discovers them growing on her own front lawn!

This book gets my kids excited to make our annual trip to the farm to pick out our very own special pumpkins. Here in Ottawa, we are lucky enough to have several pumpkin patches at these locations:

J.C. Orchards: 2726 Moodie Dr. at Fallowfield in Barrhaven,

Millers’ Farm and Market: 6158 Rideau Valley Dr., just south of the village of Manotick.

Proulx Sugarbrush and Berry Farm: 1865 O’Toole Rd. in Cumberland, near Innes and Trim roads.

Saunders Farm: 7893 Bleeks Rd. in Munster south of Fallowfield Road.

Valleyview Little Animal Farm: 4750 Fallowfield Rd., west of Cedarview Road.

But if you can’t make it out to a pumpkin patch, Ottawa’s Byward market is another great destination for choosing that special pumpkin.

At the CCPRN office we have many Fall and Halloween related dies for the die cutter including pumpkins, witches, haunted houses, ghosts and more! Of course our bulletin board is always filled with craft inspirations too so be sure to swing by and check them out!

A Must See: Butterfly Exhibit


There really is no better way to spend a rainy day than to visit the Annual Biology Butterfly Show at Carleton University. It’s happening this week through to Thanksgiving Monday and is in the Nesbitt Building of the Biology Department.



The show features 1300 butterflies representing 41 species. Your children can feed butterflies, watch them flutter about, and observe the chrysalis stage.

What to bring?

– Change for parking. There is metered parking nearby or parking lots. View the campus parking map here. Admission is free but donations are welcomed.

– Sliced oranges for the butterflies… and don’t forget some for your kiddos too!

– Your camera!

– Dress in layers – it’s quite warm and humid in the greenhouses. You can avoid overheating by dressing your children in layers that can be removed. Also, keep in mind that butterflies are attracted to bright colours and may land on you if you wear them.

– Patience. It’s a very popular exhibit so get there early and be prepared in case there is a line up.

The show opens at 9am and remains open until 4pm each day.



So why not head to the university this week to bring the science and wonder of butterflies into your daycare. For some of us, it has become a Fall tradition!

Daycare Science: Caterpillar to Butterfly

This spring, CCPRN coordinated a group order of caterpillars for all members who were interested in purchasing some for their daycare.

We were happily surprised by the response and enthusiasm of our caregivers!

Nearly 200 caterpillars arrived at the office at the beginning of the month, each neatly packaged in their own little containers lined with food.

And boy those caterpillars were hungry!

They ate…. and ate…. and ate.

Before long they got a lot bigger.

We decided to transport our largest caterpillars into bigger containers to ensure they had enough room to hang upside-down.

And one by one, they made their way up to the top of the jar.

And formed their chrysalises.

The white webbing is silk formed by the caterpillar.

Caught in the silk appears to be a part of the caterpillar that was shed during the transformation process.

Within two weeks of their arrival, some of our butterflies emerged…

…as beautiful Painted Ladies.

It has been truly rewarding and exciting to share this opportunity with our members and their daycare children.

A big thank you to all who participated and gave their children an opportunity see mother nature’s magic.

Thanks for reading,

Daycare Science: Beans

Spring has sprung and it’s a perfect time of the year to introduce our little ones to all the wonder and science that Mother Nature has to offer.

I’ll be planting a vegetable garden with my own kids soon, but first I wanted to show them what really happens ‘behind the scenes’ when we plant seeds.

I bought some kidney beans and soaked them in water over night. The beans will still grow without this step but this helps to give them a boost.

The next day, we placed them into a clear bag with a wet paper towel and hung them in the window.

It didn’t take long before they started to change….

By the second day, little roots were already forming.

By day 5 the developing root system was very visible.

In less than 2 weeks, the beans transformed into a plant.

Day 13

This is a really simple, hands-on way to introduce some basic science to children. Through discussions of our observations, they will learn new vocabulary and a deeper understanding of how plants grow with just a little water and sunlight!

Happy planting!

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