Activity: Using iNaturalist

yellow and black butterfly on a pink flower

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Photo: Tudor Place Historic House & Garden.

Join the City Nature Challenge to spot and identify plants, animals and bugs in your town, then compete with other cities around the world!

In a previous Education At Home activity, you learned how to be a good observer. Now it’s time to put your skills to the test!

Participants in the City Nature Challenge use an app called iNaturalist to record and share information about the plants and animals they’ve found. You can use iNaturalist on a smartphone or from the Web.

Learn more about using iNaturalist by watching the video and following the instructions below.

If you can’t access the video, here is an easy step-by-step guide for using iNaturalist:

  1. Tap “observe”
  2. Add photographs as evidence
  3. Select the plant, animal or fungus that you saw
  4. Make sure the entry states when and where you saw it
  5. Make sure to mark if the plant or animal you saw is cultivated (is someone growing it on purpose?)
  6. Save your observation to upload and share with the community!

Now you’re ready to take part in the City Nature Challenge 2021. Share your observations with us by email at

Second of a two-part City Nature Challenge series

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Activity: What Do You See Outdoors?

head of a young hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk Photo: Tudor Place Historic House & Garden.

Join the City Nature Challenge to spot and identify plants, animals, and bugs in your town and compete with other cities around the world! Learn more about the City Nature Challenge in Washington, DC.

  • In the first part of the Challenge, from April 30 to May 3, take pictures of wild plants and animals, using the helpful tips below.
  • Then, from May 4 to May 9, identify the species that were found.

If you’re participating in the City Nature Challenge, or just enjoying the nature around you, it is important to be a good observer.

When observers see something they want to share with other people, they take detailed notes! These notes are observations, or a record of everything you noticed.

When you make an observation you should record:

  1. Who you are! What is your name?
  2. Where are you? Are you in a park? In a garden?
  3. When did you see this plant or animal? What time is it?
  4. What you saw! Describe what you’re looking at! For example, if it’s a plant, does it have lots of leaves? Are they big or small? What color are they? What shape are they? Do they look soft or spiky? Does it have flowers? What color are they? What shape are they? What do they smell like?
  5. Take lots of photographs from different angles and different distances. This will help you and other people identify what you’re looking at!
  6. Practice!

You can use an observation sheet like this printable one to keep track of everything:


Now you are ready to be an observer! What can you discover? Share your observations with us by email

Second of a two-part City Nature Challenge series

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Craft: Egg Carton Tulips

Activity Directions:

While Armistead Peter 3rd and his wife Caroline were living at Tudor Place, they exchanged tulips at Easter. In the fall they planted tulips in the garden and the flowers still grow here! It is now your turn to create and share tulips with people you love.

Watch the video to see how to create tulips out of egg cartons!

What you’ll need:

  • An egg carton (colored or uncolored)
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Buttons (optional)
  • Paint (optional)

How to create an egg carton tulip:

First, using scissors, separate each egg holder from the carton. This step is best done by an adult. These are your tulip flowers! Next, add two holes to the base of each tulip flower. Insert the pipe cleaner into one of the holes, bring it across the base and back down through the second hole. Twist the two ends of the pipe cleaner together to secure it.

The final step is to decorate your tulip however you want! You can add a button to the center as a dot of pollen, add colored paper leaves, and decorate your tulip with paint. Make as many tulips as you like!

After you create your tulips, share them with your friends and family or put them on display inside your home.

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Craft: Stained Glass Tulips

Activity Directions:

While Armistead Peter 3rd and his wife Caroline were living at Tudor Place, they exchanged tulips at Easter. In the fall they planted tulips in the garden and the flowers still grow here! It is now your turn to create and share tulips with people you love.

Watch the video to see how to create your own stained glass tulip!

What you’ll need:

  • Colored paper
  • Wax paper
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • An iron

How to create a stained glass tulip:

Your stained glass artwork is going to be framed with colored paper, so take a piece and cut out a flower shape. You can also cut out a stem and leaves to add on. Next, use a crayon sharpener or scissors to create crayon shavings. Choose three or four crayons for a variety of colors. This step is best with an adult’s help!

Lay out a piece of wax paper and place the crayon shavings on top. Fold the wax paper over itself, so that the crayon shavings are completely covered. You might want to place this wax paper envelope on top of a towel, so that in case any shavings fall out they don’t get on your work surface.

Iron the wax paper for several seconds. Watch it closely, because the wax will melt all at once! Once you’ve melted the wax (and let it cool!) position your flower frame over the paper, and glue them together. Cut off any extra wax paper that shows. You’re all done! Make as many tulips as you’d like.

After you create your stained glass tulips, hang them in a window to catch the light, or share them with your friends and family!

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Museums 101: Primary Sources on Tour

Have you ever wondered how docents and tour guides knew all the stories that they told? Have you ever wondered if the stories they recited were even true?

Check out this Museums 101 video to see how Tudor Place found primary sources for a popular story that is part of the historic house  tour.

Then: Explore historic newspapers from your home state on Chronicling America

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Slavery & the Gap in Archives

When you want to write about history, where do you start?
Archival material?

What if it doesn’t tell the full story?


Not even a little?

Scroll through to learn more about the complex relationship between archives and slavery.

The above image (captioned “Souls”) represents individuals the Peters enslaved at Tudor Place prior to 1860. These people are known to historians today because their names appear in written documents or were passed down by word. This is not a complete list of those enslaved by Thomas and Martha Peter, or the extended Peter family.

The Tudor Place staff is continuously researching in the archive and beyond the archive to fill in the stories about Elizabeth, Patty Allen, Joe, and the other individuals listed here. In some cases, the staff was able to learn more about their lives after emancipation.

But, say the Tudor Place Archive was our only glimpse of the lives of enslaved people, like Ralph Anderson or Will Twine, whose knowledge, labor, and skills were exploited here.

How much would Tudor Place know?

The names of individuals like Ibby and Annie come from account books, diaries, letters, runaway slave ads, and reminiscences.

That means the archive can tell researchers about economics, labor, or parentage. It also means that the few stories of enslaved people at Tudor Place are framed almost exclusively, though not entirely, by the lens of the family who enslaved and exploited them.

A Peter family member may recall the “good food” that Patty Allen prepared and “sent into the dining room”…

but the archive cannot speak about Patty Allen’s favorite meal to share with her husband on a holiday.

The archive does not even hold the name Mary-Ann gave her daughter.

The complexities go beyond tracking what was written down and what wasn’t. Because slavery is inherently dehumanizing, the Peters’ recordkeeping about people they enslaved is incomplete at best, and dehumanizing at worst.

By only recording labor, prices, parentage, and stories told primarily through the enslavers and not the enslaved, the Peters put the inhumanity of slavery into the archive. Replicating the violence of talking about enslaved people only through “what we know” from archives is a problem across all American historical institutions.

These are called “silences.”

It is Tudor Place’s job to stop replicating the silences.

Tudor Place’s work to fill the gaps in the archive includes:

  • Archaeological excavation
  • Recording oral histories with descendants of those enslaved at Tudor Place
  • Exploring other archives and repositories to try and fill in the gaps at Tudor Place
  • Collectively researching the community of free African Americans living in Georgetown in the 18th and 19th centuries alongside other Georgetown institutions
  • Reading primary documents closely to recognize gaps


Join us in stopping silence. You can:

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Tips: Houseplant TLC

spider plant

Houseplants can be beautiful, fragrant or just interesting, and they have the ability to calm us. Maybe you’re growing plants in your house or apartment at the moment or have thought about doing so. If you’re a beginner, here are some tips on getting started caring for houseplants — and if you’re a veteran, think of this as a confirmation that you’re taking care of your green housemates properly.

1. In choosing a houseplant, consider what you have to offer it: Is your house or apartment mostly dark inside, or do you have a lot of sunlight? Reading the label placed in the pot (if it’s a nursery plant) will tell you what level of light the plant does best with. You can also do a little online or book research on the plant’s needs. You certainly can move the plant around to other spots to see if it responds better to different types of light.

2. After you’ve set up the plant in the place you want, put a plate or lid under it to collect water. A houseplant will inevitably become thirsty, so next, you’ll want to water it. The rule of thumb for learning whether your plant needs water is exactly that: gently push your thumb down into the soil around your plant as far down as your knuckle. If that soil feels dry, add water to the pot until it runs out the bottom. Fresh water collected from outside is great for plants because it’s free of water-softening chemicals added to tap water, but either way your plant will be grateful.

3. If you’re growing a plant with thick, fleshy leaves, it’s probably storing water in those leaves and you won’t need to water it as much. Water this kind of plant once a month during winter while its growth is slow, and twice a month during the rest of the year. But also check the plant’s watering instructions or do some research on this topic.

4. Also, during the winter months, indoor air is normally much drier because of heated houses and apartments. It’s not a bad idea to find a spray bottle and mist your plant with water every day. You’ll see it respond with healthy looking leaves and maybe even an unexpected bloom.

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Activity: Tudor Place Virtual Garden Adventure

Explore Tudor Place’s garden using Google Earth “street view”. Click here. Check below for instructions on how to use the tour.

Looking for elementary educational activities? Find links to Tudor Place worksheets and recommended books below to turn the virtual tour into a virtual field trip.

Subjects: Plant science, natural science, garden science

Materials: Computer, printable worksheets (optional), Google Earth app (optional)

Time: 5-30 minutes

Abilities: Students grade 2 and lower need assistance


Open using the Google Earth App on a phone or tablet.

  • The first page (Introduction) shows an aerial view of Tudor Place and maps the route through the garden.
    • If the screen does not automatically zoom in on Tudor Place, zoom in using your mouse or the + sign in the top left. The viewer might have to reorient the map over Tudor Place by dragging the map with the mouse.
  • For a full screen view, click the circled button and choose “Play full screen”.
  • To start the Google Earth tour, click next. This should bring the viewer to the first stop of the tour: the North Garden.

If the view does not automatically shift to street/garden view, place the yellow man in the top left corner the map onto the map.

  • At each stop, drag the map around to see the garden from every angle. Click on the pictures in the slideshow above the text for more information and other activities.
  • Navigate between the stops by clicking next and back, or by clicking on the named stops in the panel on the left.
  • Pair this virtual field trip with the read-aloud books and the worksheets. Recommendations for pairing are below.

Recommended read-aloud book videos:

Recommended Education at Home worksheets and activities:

Questions? Comments? Photos to share? Email us with your Education at Home needs:

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Activity: Architecture Inventor (Girl Scouts Premier Partner Program)

thornton presentation drawing of tudor place
Step into the shoes of architect William Thornton and design your own houses. Download the activity here. Brownies will be able to complete all activities needed for the Inventor badge.

  • Imagine new ways to use everyday items that are normally thrown away
  • Create designs for a brand new house
  • List the things that a person needs in a home
  • Solve a problem for a housing need
  • Share with someone how you would use your new idea

Time: Up to 3 hours

Materials: Worksheet, recycled items

Find more Scout Programs here.

Activity: Notice on a Nature Walk (City Nature Month and iNaturalist partnership)


black couple looking at box knot garden

Citizen science – the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.”

City Nature Challenge brings citizen science to the Washington DC area with iNaturalist every year. This year there is a new challenge: what can we notice when we stay at home?

City Nature Challenge asks residents in urban areas to become stewards of nature by documenting the biodiversity around them – even if it’s just outside their front door. Over 10,000 observations have been made in the DMV project since April 1. Northern spicebushes were found about 15 times, and over 50 of our neighbors have spotted an American bullfrog.

iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society with the goal of connecting average citizens and professionals to build a scientific catalog. The app relies on people like you to take photos of wildlife and upload them to the site with a geotag. Then, professionals and hobbyists from all over the world can use the app to identify species of plants and animals.

The result is a huge stash of biodiversity information that iNaturalist shares with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. It is citizen science in action.

Whether you browse and learn how to identify common plants, submit photos from your nature walk, or use your professional horticultural knowledge to submit identifications, iNaturalist, City Nature Challenge and Tudor Place want you to look around, notice nature and share your observations!

More Information

Questions? Comments? Photos to share? Email us with your Education at Home needs:

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