Forget the iPad and Kindle for a little while! Head out into your backyard for some discovery and play for the whole family. Here's how.
Do you know who you're sharing your yard with? Find out by taking a wildlife walk in your own backyard. Come on! It'll be fun.
"Look for evidence that a critter has been in your backyard: tracks, scat (poop), marks on trees, birdsong, feathers, fur, half-eaten items, burrows, nests, etc.," says Kelly Stettner, director of a grassroots river team.
Make your backyard more than a backyard by setting up a super fun obstacle course for the whole family.
"Design your own backyard obstacle course using household items such as sheets, empty boxes, chairs and sticks that can create tunnels, hurdles and mazes. Create teams -- parents versus kids or sibling versus sibling," says Marc Sickel, founder of Fitness for Health
Gardening is a fantastic backyard activity for families. So, create your own garden and see what happens.
"I planted a small herb garden with my one-year old son this year. Yes, we are growing cilantro, basil and others. He likes to water the herbs and smell them (we had to work on the smelling and not picking for a little while). This is good for the social emotional development of children....teaches responsibility and patience," says Dr. Sarah Huisman, Fontbonne University Assistant Professor and Director of Early Childhood Program.
Much like the daytime nature walk, nighttime brings a unique opportunity for you and your family to learn about the creatures that share your yard with you.
"At night, you can star-gaze, and also listen for nocturnal critters. Set out a white sheet on the clothesline and aim a flashlight at it to see who comes in for a landing," says Stettner.
There is something about the word treasure that makes people so excited -- and you can bet that everyone will thoroughly enjoy a backyard treasure hunt.
"Set up a treasure hunt. Time the event to encourage participants to walk briskly or jog to find the objects. The person who finds the most items in the least amount of time is the winner," says Sickle.
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