Backyard Wonders

I have found over the years that I have become a person that will leaf through travel brochures and gaze longingly at planes as they pass by overhead. I think to myself, “What wonders will I see if I travel to faraway destinations? What would I experience?”

I think everyone has those thoughts, well, except children. To them the world around them is filled with wonders. Adventures that we have forgotten in the daily press of adulthood. I remember being so content each summer as I scoured the woods for adventures or pulled fresh water clams out of a cold clear stream. I hated travelling and preferred to stay tucked into my own yard (mind you my yard was a town), and explore to my heart’s delight.

Now you are probably wondering why I am rambling about my childhood and forgotten adventures and it is simply that I have been reminded of the many wonders in my own backyard and all the opportunities for learning that takes place almost under my nose.

Spring is here after all and the world is full of new sounds, new sights and new life. It is a great time to start a growing project with your children or to start mapping out the backyard and all the animals that are making a home in it.

Well Camouflaged Killdeer Eggs

For my own yard, I have a killdeer pair that have laid four speckled eggs (right on the ground) for all to see. It is an amazing experience and it has opened up the door to learn about how other animals protect themselves and their young. (If you aren’t aware of it, killdeer are birds that will pretend to be injured to lure predators away from their nest.)

I also have a red fox that raids the compost and a raccoon that does as well. They offer opportunities to look at tracks in the mud, and discuss animals and how to take care around them. I also have a turkey vulture that loves to sit on a post across the road and watch me. I probably look tasty but I have taken some amazing pictures of him and answered a thousand questions about him and the hawk that is nesting in a tall spruce in our yard.

There is an ecosystem just waiting to be explored and I don’t have to travel to the Caribbean (although that would be nice too) to experience wonders and adventure.

So today was just a reminder to take a few minutes and explore your backyard with your child. You will be pleasantly surprised, as I was, at how much life is teeming in your back yard.

Mini Project

Since I am sending you out in your backyard, why not take the time to have a mini project.

What you will need:

  • Twine
  • 4 sticks
  • graph paper
  • brushes
  • shovels
  • magnifying glass
  • containers

What you should do:

  1. Section of a square in your back yard with the sticks and twine.
  2. Allow your child to explore the space and show her how to mark the item on the graph paper.
  3. Explore with all the different materials and save some things that can be saved, such as seeds, stems from plants, soil.
  4. Label the containers and the graph to remember where you took the samples from and when
  5. Spend the next week or so going back to the spot and checking to see if things have changed or if they are the same.
  6. Also take the time to exam the items you took from your backyard. This is great for rainy day activities.
  7. If you happen to find something really interesting, start a mini project on the topic, i.e. snails (which I will go into the proper care of snails at a later date.)

Sirena Van Schaik

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