Life in a Brook Nature Study

Hello, NaturExplorers! Thanks for joining me for a wet and wild nature walk today. I’m Mrs. Cindy from No Sweat Nature Study LIVE and I’m excited to help you discover life in a brook today.

What is a brook?

Rather than a brook, you might call it a stream or a creek, but generally, a brook is a small body of running water that’s not too deep and not too wide. Brooks are usually shallow enough to walk through and sometimes you can even jump from one side to the other.

Life in a Brook Nature Study

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Have you been to a brook before? We have a brook in the middle of our farm that winds its way eventually to a much larger and deeper creek on the back of the farm. That’s the thing about running water – it’s always going somewhere.

Brooks run until they dump their water into bigger creeks. Creeks run until they dump their water into bigger rivers. And, rivers run until they run into bigger rivers or lakes or the ocean.

Life Around a Brook

You would think all that running water winding this way and that might be a hectic place for plants and animals to live, but brooks can be a home for lots and lots of life!

Have you ever heard of the riparian zone? It’s the area of land right next to the sides of any body of freshwater. That area is abundant with plants of all sorts. They grow so well because of all that wonderful water nearby. In the riparian zone, you can find grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees – all providing wonderful shelter and food for plenty of animals.

As you can imagine, tons of animals visit brooks. They might stop by to find a hiding place in the plants of the riparian zone, enjoy a bite to eat, or, of course, grab a drink. Here are ten common animals you can find visiting a brook: blue herons, raccoons, deer, snakes, lizards, turtles, dragonflies, fox, muskrat, and even a cow.

minnows in a freshwater stream

Life in a Brook

Whether you can see them or not, plenty of animals live in a brook, too! When you think of water, you probably think of fish. Fish do live in most brooks if the brook isn’t too shallow or narrow. The term minnow is given to a small fish and those are what you typically find in a brook.

You can sometimes find snails, crayfish, and freshwater mussels in and under the rocks of brooks, too. Insects in every stage from eggs to adults can also be found in the water. Each of these four things – snails, crayfish, mussels, and insects  – is an invertebrate. These aquatic (or water) animals have a special science name called macroinvertebrates. That’s a big word. Let me say it one more time – macroinvertebrates. That’s just a fancy name to say they are invertebrates (or animals without a backbone) that you can see without needing to use a microscope.

Macroinvertebrates are the opposite of microinvertebrates. I bet you can guess what microinvertebrates are? Yep, they are animals without backbones that you would need a microscope to see – and there are plenty of them living in brooks, too!

mussels in a freshwater stream

Homeschool Nature Walk Challenge

For today’s nature walk challenge, I hope you can find a brook to visit. Something larger like a creek or river would work, too, but it sure would be nice if you can find a place where you can get close enough to observe the plants and animals in the riparian zone and maybe even splash around in the water safely.

Before we go any further in your challenge, I want to remind you that safety is always the most important thing when you’re on a nature walk. Anytime you’re around water, you need to bump the safety precautions up even more. Okay?

Before you go, grab your nature journal, some watercolors and a paintbrush, and a bottle of water. It will be helpful if you can pack a blanket or folding chair to be more comfortable as you paint in your nature journal.

family crossing rocks over creek

At the brook, it’s best if you don’t get in the water or stir it up with anything like a stick at first. In order to observe the life in and around a brook, it’s easiest to simply sit nearby and watch for a little while. Notice the movement of the water. Watch for animals moving around in the riparian zone and in the water and notice the different types of plants.

Take out your watercolors. Use the water in your bottle to wet your paintbrush and paint the scene you see. Try to capture any bends in the brook created by the movement of the water and then add whatever flora, fauna, and even rocks that you see. Do you remember what flora and fauna are? Flora means plants and fauna means animals.

After you’ve finished your nature journal page, feel free to play around in the brook if it’s entirely safe and if you have permission.

children playing in stream

Have fun visiting a brook! Next week, we’ll be looking upward to the night sky as we learn about the stars of summer. Until then, happy nature exploring!

Nature Study Curriculum

Life in a Brook Resources

Handbook of Nature StudyThe Handbook Of Nature Study in Color - Earth and SkyNational Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: North America (National Audubon Society Field Guides)National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America (National Audubon Society Field Guides)A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes: North America, North of Mexico (Peterson Field Guide)Canson 100510926 XL Mix Media Paper Pad, 98 Pound, 7 x 10 Inch, 60 SheetsUpgraded 48 Colors Watercolor Paint, Washable Watercolor Paint Set with 3 Paint Brushes and Palette, Non-toxic Water Color Paints Sets for Kids, Adults, Beginners and Artists, Make Your Painting TalkGIVERARE Picnic Beach Blanket, XL Sandfree Waterproof Outdoor Camping Blankets, Quick Drying Family Mat, Portable Extra Large Mats for Travel, Hiking, Music Festival, Lawn

 

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