Some links in this post may be sponsored. All opinions are our own.
Learning about wildlife begins right in the backyard, no matter how small or big your yard happens to be. Our backyards are teeming with wildlife and with a little digging around you and your children will begin noticing the presence of more birds, insects and mammals in your yard than you thought possible. Being a naturalist is all about observing and learning, so it is important that we teach our children to respect the animals they are hunting down, without disrupting their lives and habitats.
Find out how to raise your own backyard naturalists with these fun backyard naturalist activities for kids you can do right at home.
1. Focus on Field Work
Knowing about the wildlife that lives in your backyard is the most important part of being a naturalist, so do what scientists do and engage in daily field work. Give kids a journal where they can keep a daily log of animals, insects and birds. Encourage them to sit quietly for a few minutes each day, either inside or outdoors, and record what they saw, where they saw it and the time of day. Choose different areas of the yard to focus on, flipping rocks, investigating flowerbeds and watching treetops.
2. Create Habitats
After conducting their own field research for a few days, children are going to begin recognizing patterns in the types of wildlife to visit the backyard, and where they like to hang out. Discuss the different needs different animals have and help children create welcoming habitats. Provide water for insects, birds and even reptiles in sheltered locations. Attract insects with garden debris placed in protected, damp corners.
3. Tracking Evidence
Another way to observe wildlife is to look for evidence of their presence using clues they’ve left behind for children to find. Help children search for animal tracks left behind in the dirt and draw the shape of their footprints. Follow insect trails as they eat through vegetation. Finally, help children create their own spiderwebs using glue and glitter on black construction paper like the ones they find outdoors.
4. Seeing With Your Ears
Most observations are done with our eyes, but it is important for children to learn to use their other senses too. Basic animal behavior can be observed through listening to the animals that visit our backyards. To increase a child’s sense of hearing, have children sit in a lawn chair, blindfolded. Tell them to listen for as many animals as they can. Then draw their attention to birds in the yard and see if they can hear the different calls birds use.
5. Create Feeders
Now that children are aware of all the wildlife in their backyards, help them create feeders that birds, butterflies, and squirrels can take advantage of.
Find them here:
These backyard naturalist activities for kids will help arm children with new knowledge about the animals that they share their backyard with, maybe this knowledge will make them more likely to respect and want to protect the creatures they share their space with!