Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings, explorations, and discoveries. It’s a great time to commit to spending more time outside on your own, or even better, as a family. Birdwatching and gardening are two activities that are perfect for bringing family members together and deepening understanding of the natural world in your backyard.
Birdwatching can be very simple and low-budget, or it can involve a lot of expensive equipment. My advice is to start simple! You’ll be amazed how your walk through a familiar field or forest changes when you are focused on staying quiet and hearing or spying birds. I wrote about birdwatching last spring. Read about my efforts to learn more birdsongs and bring birdwatching to my after school program by clicking here.
Backyard gardening is fun, rewarding, and full of learning experiences for kids and adults. In addition to being a great place to grow food, gardens are little ecosystems teaming with opportunities to view ecological concepts like pollination, decomposition, and camouflage up close. And in the end, you get to eat what you have grown! Even more surprising for some parents: kids will want to eat the veggies they have grown. There are certainly challenges and hard work involved, so check out my “Tips for Gardening with Kids” post for a successful season.
The Children and Nature Network is also a great resource for families committed to spending more time outside in nature. Check out their website at http://www.childrenandnature.org/