Want to know how you can celebrate National Wildlife Week (March 14-20th) right in your back yard? Head outside for 15 Minutes each day this week to notice the nature in your neighborhood with these five activities from Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks).
MONDAY: Focus on the Sounds
Have a challenge with your kids and see how many sounds they can hear outside. Ask them if they can hear more sounds the quieter they are. Listen first for a minute or two, and then start to identify the sounds. What animals do you hear? If you don’t know the names of the animals, what do the children think they might look like?
TUESDAY: Lie Under a Tree and Look Up
I love to do this with my son in our hammock, but you don’t need a hammock to enjoy the shade and the view up into a tree from underneath. The silhouette and pattern of the tree’s leaves against the sky is beautiful. Want to get even comfier? Lie on a blanket and bring a pillow for your heads too.
WEDNESDAY: Make a Nature Container
Kids love to collect things from nature, and my boys are sad when they can’t bring something they’ve collected inside. They are afraid it will get lost outside. A nature container is a perfect solution. Give your child her own plastic container with a lid, where she can keep what she finds. The container can be stored in a closet by the door or in the garage, and she can easily grab it when she wants to play with her nature objects outside. Take a tip from the National Wildlife Federation: Try hanging a clear shoe organizer on the back of a door so your children can put treasures into the convenient pockets and see what they’ve collected (see their website at www.BeOutThere.org for more ideas).
THURSDAY: Look at Moss and Mushrooms
Moist spring conditions create vibrant green moss and interesting fungi. We love noticing what is popping up along forest paths and in the yard. We like touching fuzzy moss too. Backyardnature.net has some interesting general information about moss and mushroom identification.
FRIDAY: Spot a Predator
It’s interesting to look at an insect or an animal and think about why it may be attracted to that spot. For example, a ladybug may be eating aphids on your plants. A praying mantis, which my children and I usually see in early autumn, may be hunting the ladybugs that show up in droves at that time. Head out the door and talk about the first insect that you notice on the ground. Why do you think it has chosen that location? Then, learn more about their habitat and what they eat. Check out www.Insecta-Inspecta.com and www.A-Z-animals.com.
About the Author
Rebecca P. Cohen is a gardening and outdoor lifestyle expert whose mission is to inspire people to get off the couch and discover how simple it can be to incorporate an active, outdoor lifestyle into a busy schedule. Her work has been featured in Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, Backyard Solutions, and Washingtonian magazines, as well as on Rachael Ray’s website, Yum-o!, SheKnows.com, and WorkingMother.com. Rebecca is also a Spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement. The mother of two small children, Rebecca incorporates the outdoors into every aspect of life, bringing invaluable tips and inspiration into her product lines, television segments, and website, www.rebeccaplants.com.
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