Create our own backyard field guide.
After reading an article last week about how to make a field guide to your yard, I thought it might be fun to give it a try. The goal of this first outing wasn’t much: Choose a format for our guide (pictures, words, sketches, etc.) and get started with one item.
OUR NOTES FROM THE FIELD
This one started off simply enough. I showed the big explorer a couple of field guides I bought recently for our summer adventures and asked him to help me figure out how we might make one for our backyard.
We headed outside with guidebooks in hand and looked through them both.
One had just pictures and names to help you identify things, the other longer descriptions and color photos. He decided he wanted to draw pictures of the things for our guide.
Next, we sat down and talked about the things in our backyard that we might want to include in our field guide: trees, flowers, birds, wildlife and whatever else we thought might belong. I asked him which item in our yard we should add first.
The lemon tree it was.
The big explorer took it from here with little to know prompting after that. He sat down to draw a picture of the tree, then a picture of a lemon. He labeled the parts of the lemon and what color each part of the lemon was. He added in some details about how it looked, smelled and felt.
Before we were finished, I asked him to take a closer look at the lemon tree itself. To find out how the bark felt and to see if he could see any sign of insect or animal life in the tree. Here is the second page of his first backyard field guide entry. (The first included the date, the name of the item observed and the weather during our observation.)
We’ll be adding an item here and there throughout the summer, I’m sure of it.
I've always thought field guides were best left to the experts. But who better to be the expert of your backyard than you? To keep this potentially complex project simple:
- Keep it age appropriate. The big explorer is 5 ½ years old, so our field guide is a great place for him to practice his newfound reading, writing, classifying and drawing skills. If I were to make one with the little explorer (who is 2), it might just consist of pictures with the names of the items written in large letters beneath each.
- Be flexible. If your child wants to sketch one day, then take a photo another, go with it. It’s not important that the field guide is in one cohesive format. What matters is that your little one enjoys exploring and learning about your backyard nature.
MORE IDEAS FOR OUTDOOR FUN
Things around here have been a little too hectic this week for my taste. I'm looking forward to the weekend and the chance to slow down and enjoy some time outside. Here are a few creative ways to enjoy outdoor time with your kids this weekend:
- Head outside at night and try one of these 13 things to do
- Make letters in the dirt with your little explorer
- Collect, skip or paint stones
- Turn the wind into music with your own set of wind chimes
- Usher in summer with some serious water play fun