Enjoying Nature Begins at Home

 You can do a LOT in one hour!  One hour of unstructured play with the natural world.

Alphabet Walk. Stop, Look, Listen, Feel and Smell!  Look for letter shapes in your neighborhood. Fall and winter can the best times for careful observation because tree limbs and branches are exposed so more letters are visible. X and Y and relatively easy to find. Be creative as you search for other letters. Look to the sky and on the ground. Sometimes letters are found in unexpected places.

Nature Detectives Scavenger Hunt. One of many things a child can do alone is a backyard scavenger hunt (or any area near your home or apartment). Give your child a note pad and pencil and send them on a mission to find bugs, fallen leaves, spider webs, ladybugs, worms, birds and whatever else they can find in about 30 minutes.

Challenge them to find 10 things they never saw before. Encourage them to draw what they see, make a list, or describe it in a sentence. You can accompany them and incite enthusiasm if they won’t go alone or feel safer if accompanied by an adult.

  • Make comparisons: Is it as a long as their finger?
  • Look (or touch) closely: It is wet or dry?
  • Listen carefully: Does it make a sound?
  • Describe it: Does it have legs, wings or just a slimy body?
  • Count: How many?

Once they have returned from their solo mission, share their enthusiasm by reviewing their field journal. Follow up on their investigation by asking questions, inviting them to show you where they searched so you can see first hand what they found.

Visit the National Wildlife Federation website for even more  activities you can do during the  Green Hour .

Writer & Editor

Discover MagazineWriter & Editor, Discover magazine published by the Sacramento Bee. Wrote feature stories, assigned stories to writers and photographers and proofread regional lifestyle magazine before going to press.

Other credits includes publication of more than 100 feature stories in regional and statewide magazines with a focus on recreation, lifestyle, education, the arts and health.