Plants & Gardens Blog

Migration and Hibernation in the Discovery Garden

It’s time for the Migration and Hibernation Celebration in the Discovery Garden! As autumn approaches, animals are getting ready for winter. Some stay in Brooklyn while others, like the monarch butterfly, travel incredible distances to overwintering grounds in places like Mexico and California.

On September 18 and 19, the Discovery Garden will host free family workshops all about migration and hibernation. Families can learn to spot and identify local fauna and take home a creature-themed craft or planting.

Discovery Garden Workshops are a great way for children and caregivers to get a dose of garden learning, planting, and crafting. This past July and August the workshops were focused on earth art. With the inspirational example of the artist Patrick Dougherty nearby, visitors explored the realm of earth art by painting with soil and sand, making sun catchers from leaf rubbings, creating collages with scented and edible seeds, and sculpting mini terrariums complete with rabbit’s foot ferns and walnut-shell ponds. Each week, the kids learned the science behind the materials they were using and went on scavenger hunts to explore the topic on their own in the Garden. It was not only educational, but just plain fun to close the conventional art box and get our hands on these dirty, gooey, spicy, and unpredictable crafting materials.

If you missed our Earth Art workshops, here is an activity for you and your kids to try on your own. Children and caregivers can also join us for more hands on activities during the fall Discovery Workshop season.

Make a Life Under the Soil Painting


  • Cardboard or Heavy Stock Paper
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Soil samples
  • Pebbles
  • Clay

We used soil, sand, and clay in our workshop to make for different soil textures and colors and create soil horizons, the horizontal layers of soil types found underground. You could get a similar effect by collecting small samples of soil from some different places you visit.

Start with a piece of cardboard or heavy stock paper, like the reverse side of the front of a cereal box. Paint a horizontal strip of glue on the paper, then sprinkle one type of soil on it, shake it around to coat the glue, and shake off the excess. Repeat to make each soil layer.

Next, add the critters! Use self-hardening clay or modeling clay to sculpt small worms, ants, sow bugs, and any other underground creatures you desire. We used a fork as a press to make our worms neatly segmented. Glue on the critters, add pebbles as desired, and allow your soil painting to dry!

We recommend the book Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser or Under One Rock (Bugs, Slugs and Other Ughs) by Anthony Fredericks for related reading about life under the soil.

Ashley Gamell is a freelance writer and consultant. After a decade on staff at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, she now pens her posts from the Hudson Valley.

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Image, top of page: Antonio M. Rosario