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Puddles' Craft Corner

Learn about nature while making a nature craft with Puddles!

Much more than detailed craft instructions, these activities include information about the creature being made, supply lists and pictures of every step! 

By Cindy Steele  (Bio)

Nothing compares to the quality time experienced while completing a nature craft with a child.

Nature Journals for Little Explorers!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Spring is bursting out all over the refuge and we’re here to share a fun nature activity that your kids can do with mostly things found around the house and outside in nature. This project is guaranteed to get the kids excited about being outside! Trees budding, birds chirping, and rain falling, nature is truly amazing. Nature journaling with kids is a great way for children to explore and connect with the natural world. Not only is journaling fun, but it is an easy way to get outside together! A perfect activity to go along with learning about animals, insects, plants, and weather. Or simply bring one along while adventuring and exploring outside together.

Kids of all ages can get excited about making and keeping their own nature journal. What better activity to encourage your kids to become nature explorers than recording in a nature journal. Read on to find out exactly why this type of journaling is beneficial to kids and...

Craft Instructions

The Great Backyard Bird Count - 2024

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! It is time for the yearly Great Backyard Bird Count! What is that, you ask? The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts and any age bird watchers. The best part is that you can participate from your own backyard, or anywhere in the world.

When is this event held in 2024? The 27th annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 16 through Monday, February 19, 2024. This global activity is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, Birds of Canada, and partially by Wild Birds Unlimited. For any additional information, visit the official website at birdcount.org for more information.

Here are ten tips for making the most of the Great Backyard...

Craft Instructions

Exploring Nature in Winter

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Are you looking for ways to get your kids outside this Winter? Winter can be a real hibernating time – it’s tempting to want to stay cozied up indoors until the weather warms up a little. Part of the fun of Winter is snuggling up on sofas and under blankets diving into a good book! But as the days shorten, daylight shortens and everything becomes decidedly crispier, nature provides us with a magical backdrop that’s perfect for exploring.

Here in North Texas, the temperatures can be a mixed bag. Some days can be very cold, and others can be mild and in the 70s. Even though snowstorms are few and far between, the winter landscape is the perfect time to get outside, go on a hike, or just go exploring. The bare trees make it easier to spot birds and other small animals that might be out in nature.

Going on a hike in a local park, out at Hagerman NWR, around the lake, in your neighborhood or even in a local parking lot area at dusk will provide you with a few hours of fun identifying birds and looking for signs of other animals foraging for food.

A fresh winter’s walk in nature to get some exercise, get some fresh air and put an end to cabin fever is a lovely way to savor the winter season. If you’d like to do more exploring this Winter, here’s a list of fun, easy outdoor winter nature activities to help you get outside more this Winter.

Enjoying your time on a hike or nature walk requires preparation. It also means lugging a few extra items than you would like. However, there is a balance between being prepared and carrying your entire house on your back, so if you’re wondering what to pack for a hike or nature walk with kids, here’s a peek at what’s in a well-prepared backpack before hitting trails or the walking path at the park on a winter’s day!

Craft Instructions

Animal Tracks

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Have you ever been on a hike or even a walk in your neighborhood and looked down to see some sort of animal tracks on the ground, but weren’t sure what type of animal made those tracks? Well, we’re about to learn a little bit about how to identify those tracks.

When outdoors, many children don’t have the good fortune of seeing animals in action; seeing them usually takes luck, patience, silence and time. There are many other ways to observe wildlife without actually seeing the animals. For Instance, children can look for evidence of the animals’ activities. There are many signs that children can learn to look for that indicate what types of animals are around, what they’re eating and doing, what sort of habitat they might live in, and what kinds of interactions are happening between animals. Animal tracks are one of the easiest signs for children to find and understand.

Animal tracking is a fun nature activity for the whole family, and it can be done any time of the year. The best part is that you don’t need to be an expert to track animals, if you’re equipped with some curiosity about the natural world. See it as an opportunity for the...

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The Magic of Leaves Changing Colors in the Fall!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Fall is in the air! It’s time for pumpkin spice and apple cider donuts. The magic of the leaves changing color is the telltale sign that Fall is officially here. Autumn is a perfect time to harvest some fun learning and explore new projects as a family. There’s so much to do with Fall colored leaves than just rake them up. Although, raking them up can be some super family fun! If you are looking for something to do with your family this Autumn, check out this article. It’s packed with projects, activities, lessons, and most importantly, fun.

You may have experienced a tree turning from green to yellow during the fall. But did you know that the yellow colors that..

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Creepy, Crawly Spiders!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! It’s that creepy, crawly time of year again, so it just makes sense to learn about one of the creepiest, crawliest animals on the planet…spiders!

Ick! Ewww! A spider! This may be the reaction of many when they come across these creepy, crawly eight-legged creatures, but do you realize that spiders are an important part of our ecosystem? They help keep our planet from being covered with insects! Spiders are eight-legged creatures known for making silk webs to catch insects. They live everywhere in the...

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Under the Prairie Sky

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Can you imagine what it was like 200 years ago when the pioneers were traveling across North America in their covered wagons and came over a hill to view the vast prairie that spans the middle of our continent? 200 years ago, much of central North America was covered by huge expanses of grasses and wildflowers called the Prairie. The Prairie stretched from Texas to Canada and Illinois to Montana. Travelers called it a sea of grass.

The word prairie comes from the French preĀ“rie meaning meadow. A prairie is a type of habitat with mostly grasses, but also flowering plants and occasional shrubs or isolated trees. This type of habitat can be found around the world, but it goes by different names, such as steppes in Asia, pampas in South America, while African grasslands are called savannas. The word prairie generally means grasslands in North America. There are often many animals on a prairie that either prefer a prairie or can only live on the in this ...

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Hop on Over to the Frog Pond!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! It’s a warm summer evening and the bugs are floating around the pond. All of a sudden, as it starts to get dark, you start to hear those familiar sounds of a summer evening…frogs! All at once, they’re everywhere…all around you. The sound is almost deafening. As most frogs are nocturnal animals, their unmistakable concerts occur throughout the night. The frogs can seem to compete with one another for a slot in the stream of sound waves. Every second is filled with calls and signals, mainly for the purpose of finding a mate. In almost all frog species, only males call. In fact, that noise you hear in your backyard pond, local creek or lake is a sweet serenade- male frogs calling to attract female frogs.

They hop, they jump, some of them stick to windows - frogs! Frogs come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be found almost anywhere in the world.  Add to that one of the most interesting life cycles on earth, and it's no wonder that people everywhere are...

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What’s the Buzz on Bees?

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Just imagine it’s a hot summer day. You’ve been swimming and playing in your yard. You’re hungry and ready to sit down for a cool snack. What is something you would love to eat…maybe, a cool slice of watermelon? But, did you know, without bees, there wouldn’t be any watermelons!

That’s right, without bees we wouldn’t have watermelons, apples, peaches, grapes, blueberries, almonds, cashews, coffee, cucumbers, eggplants, and oranges. And…these are just a few of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for bees!

We may not realize that bees are essential to life on Earth. They help pollinate plants so we can have food! Bees are actually some of the most important creatures on our planet.

But how is this possible? What do bees have to do with our food? About one third of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that we eat need bees to pollinate them. Pollinate is a fancy word for spreading pollen between individual plants and fertilizing them. Basically, by flying from plant to plant and collecting nectar and pollen, bees carry,,,

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Ants in Your Pants!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Everyone loves to go on a picnic. You’ve brought everything you need for a fun picnic at the park…water, sandwiches, fruit, chips, cookies, and ANTS!

That’s ok because when they’re not crashing our picnic and eating our food, they’re actually a very helpful part of nature. So, let’s learn about the hard-working, social, super-strong world of ants!

We all have seen lots of common house ants, but did you know that there are more than 12,000 different species of ants all over the world! Some of these ants can bite or sting, but most of them are harmless to people. You’ll find many different kinds of ants that come in many different sizes, colors, and shapes, but they all live in large groups called...

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Hippity Hoppity Bunnies!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. Quick! Name all of the famous rabbits that you know from television, books, movies, or holidays! You can probably think of quite a few! Bugs Bunny, Peter Rabbit, The Energizer Bunny, Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Cadbury Bunny, The Easter Bunny, Peter Cottontail, and many more! But what do you know about rabbits in the wild? Let's explore these cute animals a little further.

Rabbits are mammals, which means they are warm-blooded, have backbones and hair. There are around thirty different species of wild rabbits, and they can weigh anywhere from less than a pound to over four pounds. These furry creatures can be found all over the world. Perhaps you have seen one of the most common types...

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Gee, I Love Geodes!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. Geodes are one of the great mysteries in the rock and mineral world! On the outside, they look like a plain uninteresting rock. But break them open, and you find the most amazingly beautiful crystals hiding inside!

Geodes, for kids, are a wonderful introduction to geology and provide a hands-on tool for learning how rocks are formed.

Geodes might look ordinary on the outside, but their beauty is on the inside. In Greek the work geode means “shape of the Earth”. A geode is formed with a mixture of liquid and minerals fill the empty space of a hollow rock. Geodes are created over time. It may take millions of years for the space inside the rock to be filled.

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Digging Into Fossils!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Do you remember when you were a kid, and you would dig for buried treasure? Or did you search for dinosaur bones? And when you learned about fossils, did you search high and low for fossils in your back yard, at the beach, in a field, and anywhere you went? Well, I think it’s safe to say that kids are obsessed with finding things like fossils and frankly this continues throughout our lives!

The only reason that we know giant dinosaurs and other extinct animals existed is because their remains have been preserved as fossils. Usually, the remains of dead animals and other living...

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Animals in Winter

Welome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! When winter comes around, humans can keep warm and healthy with a blanket, warm socks, sitting by the fire, running to the grocery store for food, and a steaming cup of hot chocolate, but some wildlife must take more drastic measures to survive. In the wintertime, the temperatures drop, the trees and bushes are stark and bare, and sometimes snow or ice blanket the ground.

What happens to the wild animals in the winter? What is their survival plan? Some people worry about the animals that are out in the cold, but don’t worry. They have a plan! All living beings have what is called instinct. When you are hungry, do you have to be told to eat? When you touch a hot stove, do you nave to think about removing your hand? Instinct tells us (and animals) what to do without even thinking about it! All animals are born with certain instincts that guide their behavior. An animal's instincts are the ability to know without thinking, the capability to automatically know how to behave or respond in certain circumstances. This "knowing" ability occurs naturally or instinctively to an animal and is inherited from birth. That's why do...

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Treemendous Trees!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Have you ever thought about how important trees are to all of us? Trees are pretty much amazing in every way! They come in many different varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes. Not only are they beautiful, but did you know that trees are beneficial too? Trees actually keep us healthy! They cleanse the air of harmful pollution, provide us with clean oxygen, and even produce food! Wow!

Trees are an important part of our world. They provide wood for building and pulp for making paper. They provide habitats (homes) for all sorts of insects, birds, and other animals. Many types of fruits and nuts come from trees -- including apples, oranges, walnuts, pears, and peaches. Even the sap of trees is useful as food for insects and for making maple syrup -- yum!

Trees also help to keep our air clean and our ecosystems healthy. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. We're perfect partners!

Trees do lots for us, our environment and other plants and animals in nature but we don't...

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Animals: Master of Disguise!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Have you ever been exploring in the woods or walking around your backyard and reached down to pick up a leaf and realize that it’s not a leaf at all…it’s alive!? Animals have amazing ways of making themselves almost invisible. This ability is one of their best ways to protect themselves from predators and danger. Let’s learn all the fantastic ways animals truly are the “Masters of Disguise!”

In nature, every advantage increases an animal's chances of...

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Creatures of the Night!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! Imagine being wide awake at midnight and going through your normal day. Can you imagine eating lunch at midnight, going to school, playing with your friends, and talking to your family? That might seem odd to some of us, but to nocturnal animals, that's how they live their lives. Nocturnal animals are awake and active at night and then sleep during the day. Some nocturnal animals can be seen during the day, but...

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The Magnificent Monarch Migration!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! If you have ever seen monarch butterflies in our area as they pass through North Texas on their yearly migration, then you have witnessed a very special yearly event!

Monarchs are probably the best-known butterflies in North America. Seven U.S. states list the monarch as their official state insect or...

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Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! You've heard of dragonflies and maybe even seen one or two, but what are they exactly? Are they mythical dragons? No! Are they flies? No! So…what are dragonflies?

If you’ve ever been around water in the summer, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve seen a dragonfly. These bugs can be big or small, and almost any color you can think of like red, pink, gold, or even purple! Even though they can be lots of different colors, they can have lots of things in common, even if they look very different from one another. For example, dragonflies aren’t really dragons at all! They are super strong and super-fast, but they won’t hurt you...

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Are you someone who thinks snakes are really cool, or do they freak you out a bit? Even if you're not the biggest snake fan, you'll be able to appreciate the fascinating types found in our world. In fact, there are over 3,000 different species of snakes, and they live on every single continent except for Antarctica. Snakes are... 

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A Home for the Birds!

Have you ever seen a bird flying with a twig in its mouth? Sometimes that’s what you see and that’s all you think. A bird is building its nest. But if you think a little deeper…this tiny little bird is building its home. It’s building the bed where it’s babies will be born, where it will hopefully stay safe and where it will live until it doesn’t. Sometimes, a bird flies by carrying a pretty large twig and it catches your eye. The twig is more like a stick and much larger than you think this tiny bird could carry in its beak. This starts you thinking and noticing all the activity going on in your neighborhood as your local...

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It’s Bluebonnet Time!

When the Texas wildflowers blanket the fields across the state, Texans have never been able to stay indoors. We’re always thinking of ways to get outside. This is especially true when our beloved bluebonnets begin to paint our fields and roadways this beautiful shade of blue.

Texans have a deep love for bluebonnets, and this is seen every year when families load up in the car and head on road trips across the...

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April Showers Bring May Flowers!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “April Showers Bring May Flowers”? Well, it’s true! Spring is the season for rain… lots and lots of rain, and these activities are sure to keep your kiddos engaged, even on the days that it’s too wet to go out and play! April is the perfect month to learn about the water cycle and what makes rain, so let’s learn a little bit about where our water comes from! Pour yourself a glass of water and take a sip. Did you know that the water you’ve just swallowed...

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Shades of Green!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. It’s March and spring is about to burst out all around us! Spring officially begins on March 20, but signs of spring start earlier in the month in our area. It seems like everyone, young and old, gets a little bit excited once we start to see grass turning bright green, early spring flowers starting to bloom, and the trees unfurling their vibrant delicate new leaves. Let’s learn a little bit about why plants are green and how this helps...

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Cardinals--The Singers in the Trees!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. It’s February! You might be noticing those bright red songbirds sitting in your trees or hanging around your bird feeders. Winter is a good time to notice these beautiful singing birds since they aren’t hidden by the leaves that are usually on the trees. You've heard of cardinals because they are mascots for a lot of sports teams, but maybe you don't know much about them. Are they always red? Where do they live? This lesson...

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Snowflake Craft

It’s January!  It’s that time when we think about the cold weather, and that means thinking about things like building snowmen, snowball fights, snow angels…in other words – SNOW!  Here in the North Texas/Southern Oklahoma area we usually don’t see snow until January or February, if we even see snow at all.  We might be making paper snowflakes at school or at home, dreaming of waking up...

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Honk, Honk: Geese at the Refuge!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. Honk, Honk! It’s that time of year that we hear the sounds of thousands of migrating geese descending on Hagerman Wildlife Refuge! It’s quite a sight to see! If you visit the refuge this month, you could easily see fields of thousands of geese enjoying their winter meal. The arrival of our winter visitors has been described as geese, “descending like a prairie blizzard.” The sound of their honk, honk, honking is almost... 

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Talkin’ Turkey!

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. Gobble, Gobble! When we think of turkeys we often think about the Fall season and the Thanksgiving Holiday. Who doesn’t remember making fun turkey crafts in school while anticipating our Thanksgiving school break and the smell of turkey cooking in the oven?

But turkeys aren’t just for Thanksgiving. They are an interesting species of birds. Turkeys are one of most popular and...

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We’re Going Batty!

Are you afraid of bats? Well, did you know that bats are afraid of you? These amazing mammals have long been misunderstood! In fact, bats actually help the environment and people by eating tons of flying insects that destroy crops and spread diseases. Bats also pollinate night flowers, such as cactus, and help spread seeds to create new fruit trees. They’re mysterious, nocturnal hunters who have...

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Let's Make an Owl!

Whooooo doesn’t love owls? They’re mysterious, nocturnal hunters who have captured our imaginations for centuries. Owls are beautiful, mysterious, intriguing, fierce, spooky, and cute. If you’ve ever spied this nighttime animal, you know that the owl has big, curious eyes and makes a unique “hoot” sound. Owls are most famous for their wise appearance, because their intelligent eyes glow and they stare so intensely. You may be surprised to learn that owls are very interesting creatures, and there is a lot to learn about their mysterious ways....

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Cicadas: The Humming Sound of Summer!

You just know it’s gonna be a scorcher when you hear the cicadas in the morning. They sound like 90 degrees in August; like sizzling, sticky heat bubbling over and down the tops of the trees around you. They sound like ice cream trucks, lawnmowers, kids playing in the pool, and the clink of ice in a glass of lemonade—cicadas stealthily singing...

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The Magical World of Fireflies

Most of us remember running outside at dusk with a jar in hand. Even as children, we knew that summer nights become magical when the fireflies flash their brilliant behinds in a spectacular display of lights. With approximately 2,000 firefly species around the world, these night-loving insects can be found near wet and wooded areas all over...

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Coffee Filter Butterfly

If you have ever seen a blossoming tree or been in a flower garden, then there is no doubt that you have also seen a butterfly. Butterflies are known for their beautiful colors and unique patterns. They come in a large variety of shapes and sizes along with a unique lifecycle. This month, our craft celebrates these beautiful, fluttering, colorful summer visitors. There is just something so amazing about a beautiful...

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Mother's Day Flower Pot Craft

This flowerpot painting craft is the perfect way to teach the kids a little bit about plants and pollination while making a beautiful gift. With just a little help, they’ll have a gift for someone to treasure forever. Moms love handmade gifts on Mother’s Day, and this fingerprint flowerpot truly is handmade or at least “finger made”! Kids will have a blast making cute fingerprint critters and mom will enjoy this lasting...

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Dandelion Poof Painting Craft

Spring is bursting out all over the refuge and we’re here to share a fun nature activity that your kids can do with mostly things found around the house and outside in nature.  This project is guaranteed to get the kids excited about being outside! 

        Let’s join Puddles, the mascot of the National Wildlife Refuge System, to learn a little bit about how seeds are spread while creating a beautiful picture.  A sure sign of spring and summer is those little 

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Ice Cream Cone Bird Feeder

Now is the perfect time to help out our birds as they wait for spring. Your local wild birds will surely thank you for taking the time to make a bird feeder especially for them. It’s a simple craft that is easy and fun for kids of all ages, especially preschoolers.

Although there are tons of different beautiful store-bought bird feeders, it’s so exciting for kids to make their own and find that special tree to hang it on. Their excitement continues as they watch to see when the birds will discover their treat. The kids will love trying to identify the different birds.

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Events and activities hosted by the Friends of Hagerman are funded by donations and powered solely by volunteers.  There are no fees for admission to the refuge or parking; the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year, drive on any road unless gated.

6465 Refuge Road

Sherman, TX 75092


Kroger: Stop by the customer service desk at Kroger and link your Kroger Card to the Friends of Hagerman: the Friends will get rewards for every dollar you spend, at no cost to you.

Please add friendsofhagerman@gmail.com to your contacts to ensure delivery of registration confirmations, account information and the Featherless Flyer

Special thanks to Nancy Miller for the amazing photo of the Visitor Center 

See you at the refuge!

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