Learning Ahead: Spring Landscape & Vernal Pools

Exploring Spring’s Landscape through Vernal Pools & Literature

Similar to fall, the spring season is a time of transition as habitats and animals begin to respond to the change in weather and climate. Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our first crop of the year, followed by another  seasonal event as winter transitions into spring…Vernal Pools!

Vernal Pools are temporary pools of water that emerge and come to life during this season, offering animals and plants a distinctive habitat.  Many amphibians and insects utilize vernal pools for egg-laying because vernal pools provide a safe habitat devoid of fish for young amphibians and insects to survive and grow.  The most common inhabitants of vernal pools are frogs and toads.  There are many places in Western Massachusetts where one can explore the ecology, habitat and wildlife of vernal pools.  Below are a few local places to discover vernal pools.

Methods of engagement as they relate to Vernal Pools can range from ecology to natural history, entomology to zoology, scientific process to art. Mount Warner Reservation in Hadley, Hitchcock Center in Amherst, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, and Pioneer Valley Citizen Science are resources with events and opportunities during the brief season of vernal pools.

Pair your explorations of vernal pools in your local landscape with the poetry of Robert Frost, comparing your experiences through both nature-based explorations and the language arts. Spring Pools by Robert Frost, observes the temporary nature of vernal pools.  It’s a short poem that uses strong imagery to emphasize the impermanent nature of this spring time habitat and reflects on the concept of ephemerality.

[Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield]


Download our March/April edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

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