10 Teachable Moments in Your Backyard

Step outside to discover a wealth of nature-inspired learning opportunities.



10 Teachable Moments in Your Backyard

  1. Be a nature sleuth. Follow the clues! Take an organic item out of the yard and hide it in a paper bag. Have your child ask yes or no questions until she can successfully guess what it is.
  2. Bird watch. What winged guests visit your area? Take a field guide out of the library and tune in to what species populate your area.
  3. Zoom in. If you have access to a camera with a telephoto lens, your child can use it to sharpen artistic skills like understanding color, texture, and composition. He can also practice math and science skills by figuring out which f-stop and aperture to use and seeing the chemicals react to form an image once the photograph is developed.
  4. Watch it grow. Gardening offers hands-on learning with satisfying results. Make a project of investigating your local growing conditions to select optimal plants. Let her try growing a combination of vegetables and flowers.
  5. Learn from weather. Outdoor conditions provide lots of hands-on learning. Use a container with a ruler secured in it to measure rain or snowfall. Have him chart changes in temperature and compare his results to the local newspaper.
  6. Label trees and flowers. Make your very own arboretum. Investigate what types of trees and flowers are growing on your property. Then have your child stake weatherproof labels into the ground. Next, she can invite family and friends to take a backyard nature tour.
  7. Look up! What do you see? Cloud gazing can be a great way to tap into the imagination. Does that cloud look like a bunny, or maybe a seesaw? Take a few free moments to study the sky.
  8. Follow your nose. With your backyard as inspiration, brainstorm 10 nature questions of interest to your child. Some examples: Why do leaves turn colors in the fall? Why do insects live under rocks? Why do some plants grow taller than others? How old are your trees?
  9. Go over, under, and through. Gather some starter materials and have your child create an obstacle course with household items like a bucket to leap over and a tumbling mat to somersault across. Then go out and do it!
  10. Get in touch with texture. Gather outdoor materials such as a moss-covered rock and a variety of leaves and flower petals. Blindfold your child, and have him describe the feel of each object with descriptive words that you'll record in a list. Take it one step further and ask him to use selected words from the list in a poem about nature.

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