School is out! Head outdoors with your family and connect with the natural world. There is so much around you. Step outside and make discoveries. Document your findings. What will you discover in your backyard, neighborhood park or even right outside your doorstep? Plan for outdoor time as part of family routines. You may not realize it, but there’s always a place nearby to begin your connection with nature. Below are some great ways you and your family can get outside and contribute to some fun outdoor learning experiences. Take the pledge to Be Out There!
Collect and Identify
Who doesn’t enjoy collecting? Everyone at some point has found something interesting and started a collection. Scientists make collections all the time. Geologists collect rocks not only to identify them, but also to figure out how they formed. An outdoor activity can begin as easy as a collection. What can you all find around your home? Maybe it’s a collection of rocks, fallen branches, or bugs (just make sure you return them to their homes once you’ve explored and wondered about them). See who can find the most rocks, bugs, or whatever the collection may be and then test your observation skills and try to identify them with the help from this bug book found in your library.
Children can plant their favorite vegetables or flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard. Attract different pollinators like honeybees, butterflies, moths, beatles and birds to your garden by growing the plants they like to eat. For butterflies, plant nectar-rich flowers and the proper host plant for caterpillars. Honeybees like flowers that have a place for them to land like daisies, asters, clover and many more! What other plants can you grow to attract pollinators to your garden.
You don’t have to go far to explore the great outdoors.Go on a safari in your very own backyard or neighborhood park. Get the whole family involved the next time you are hanging out in your backyard or at the park. Draw a map of your backyard or you can visit your neighborhood park and choose a location where you’ll be exploring. Then quickly sketch this location on a large poster or sheet of paper. With the help of this lesson record your experience on your backyard backpack safari. What animals live here? What sounds do you all hear? Once you’ve recorded your findings, as a group, note the areas of your map where you made these observations and see how it changes every week, month or season.
Do you love taking photos of nature? Join this social network, which enables you to share your pictures of living things with a global network of people who can help you learn and identify the creatures you observe. Record your observations and share your findings by helping with real and valuable scientific data.
Make a nature notebook and write about what you observe the next time you’re out with your family. Maybe you have a cool family outdoor experience you’d like to share. I’m sure there are many out there who’d love to hear what you’ve discovered. I know I would!