Week 4: Backyard Adventure

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The Power of Nature is a weekly series of themed enrichment activities designed to be enjoyed by the whole family both to supplement remote learning and create opportunities for families to do things together and discover the amazing world of nature right outside your door.

 “I go to nature to be soothed, healed, and have my senses put in order.” - John Burroughs

As our outside world continues to reawaken, let’s put our senses to work, step outside and embark on an adventure in our own back yard.

These programs are designed to be a fun addition to remote learning lesson plans or just great enrichment activities.

1_3Make a Map! 

Draw a map of your backyard! We will be using the map for the other activities this week.

Materials:

  • Paper or notebook
  • Pencil, crayons or pens
  • Measuring tape (very very optional)

Instructions:

  • Sit in your yard and imagine what it would look like from a bird’s eye view. 
  • Draw it! No need to be exact (though you can if you want to!).
  • If you decide to create a measured map you can measure you yard with a tape measure, or with your feet! Measure the perimeter of the yard, as well as the distance to fixed landmarks such as the swing set, or your favorite tree. Have fun with it! 

Reference: Map Your Backyard for a Treasure Hunt https://kidworldcitizen.org/map-your-backyard-or-playground-for-a-treasure-hunt/ [via: Kid World Citizen]

2_4Go on a Backyard Scavenger Hunt

Explore nature in your own backyard using each one of your senses to strengthen observation skills. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel?

Materials:

Instructions: 

  1. Choose and print one of the Nature Scavenger Hunt Forms or make up your own scavenger hunt that includes things that you can see, touch, hear and feel in your backyard. It can be natural items, toys, whatever you wish! 
  2. Go outside and see how many things you can find on your hunt list. Award points for each item found. 
  3. Sketch drawings or snap pictures of your finds to put in your notebook or nature journal or take pictures of items found on the scavenger hunt with a camera, whatever works best for your family. 
  4. Create a variety of hunts for use on different days and different times of the year. Have fun!

3_3Make a Nature Reading Hunt

Create a progressive reading game for your kids. Spend time in the great outdoors, moving from space to space, breathing in the fresh air, while reading and learning about things in the natural environment.

Materials:

  • Books, magazines, or articles about nature you can find online
  • Bags
  • Objects or pictures related to your chosen theme
  • Paper or poster board
  • Crayons, markers, or paints

Instructions: 

  1. Go through your current bookshelf or magazine rack and find a selection that covers a topic related to nature that interests you or check out these online resources:
  2. Decorate paper lunch bags, shopping bags or colorful gift bags and decorate them to make several bags that fit the topic you are reading.
  3. Find some items from inside and/or outside that go with the topic to put in each bag (a stuffed animal, a photo) along with your book or reading material.
  4. Upon completion of bags, place them around your yard in locations such as hanging it in a tree, placing it under a bench, or sitting it on a swing.
  5. Plan a path on your map and travel from spot to spot reading and learning about nature and looking at the items in each bag. Take your time.
  6. Upon completion of the reading trail, draw a poster of what you learned on your reading hunt!

4_2Track It Down Hunt!

Play a game to learn about all animal tracks. Go on a make-believe track hunt in your backyard! 

Materials:

  • Printable animal tracks matching cards
  • Printed online field guide about tracks
  • Notebook
  • Pencil

Instructions:

  1. Print and cut animal matching cards Animal Tracks [via: Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational, DOWNLOAD] or create cards by drawing them on index cards.
  2. Play a few rounds of the matching game, learning the tracks as you go.
  3. Hide the cards around your yard.
  4. Give each seeker the animal track field journal, a clipboard and a pencil/pen.
  5. See how many prints you can find make notes in your journal and mark where you find them on your map.

5_2Who are the Creatures in Your Neighborhood?

Hunt for real animal tracks in your yard and neighborhood. What animals hang out in your yard during the day and night? Native species (depending on if you live in an urban, suburban, or rural area) include raccoons, squirrels, opossum, cats, mice, fox, bobcats, coyote, birds, frogs, toads, dogs of all sizes, deer, skunk and more! 

Materials:

Set a stage for tracks:

  • Scrape away some grass in your yard so the dirt is showing.
  • Place a slice of apple or a piece of meat outside in that area and leave it out overnight.
  • See if there are any tracks left in the area the next morning.
  • See if you can identify the new tracks you find.