Outdoor time in town

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  • anniepeter

    I’m wondering if any of you have this situation and how you deal with it. We live in town. There is a wonderful park just a couple of blocks from our house that is the country at its best. Woods, lake, leafy/grassy slopes…only problem is there is never anyone around (some problem huh?). But seriously, my husband is particularly concerned about the safety of his family. We girls are not to walk alone except in our immediate neighborhood, and that not without great concern by Dad. I struggled for years to be willing for this…now I’ve come to appreciate it. But, it does make it difficult to get out of the yard on a regular basis for nature study, etc. So, I’m starting with just being in the yard…and wondering if any of you have thoughts that may help us to get into this and keep it going. I have to confess to never really doing this yet, though I know it is essential to a CM education.


    We put up a bird feeder with wild bird seed and all really enjoyed watching the different birds we don’t normally see.


    We also have bird feeders and enjoy meeting new birds. 

    This spring we have enjoyed planning and planting our garden.  There are tons of options to plant things, even in a small space (if that is a concern).  Flowers, veggies, berries can grow in planter boxes, pots, hanging baskets, or even something like this: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/more-smallspace-veggie-gardeni-83350

    Don’t forget all the bugs in the yard.  Watch for spiders, ladybugs, beetles, etc. and spend time observing their movements.  Take out a magnifying glass and see what you can find. 

    Last summer we had the totally unplanned opportunity to learn about wasps when we discovered 2 nests.  One was under the playhouse floor.  We flipped it over and after spraying so that no wasps were still moving, we got to investigate an inside view of the hive.  Be prepared for those impromptu moments! 

    This summer my kids have been learning about ants, because we have several hills developing on the lawn.  DH is trying to get rid of them, but in the meantime, we get to observe and investigate.

    We also have several spruce trees in the yard, so the cones and needles and dropped branches become anything from food for imaginary pets to currency in a play store to building supplies for sand castles.

    You could do a study of weather patterns, learn about different cloud formations, observe what happens to a pan of water left out in the sun, or chart where your shadows fall throughout the day (we used sidewalk chalk to draw them on the driveway.)

    Pick one tree in your yard or a close neighbour’s yard that you can observe throughout the year, noting the changes through the seasons.

    Perhaps you could plan your trips to the park for times when Dad is available to come.  It doesn’t have to be an all day affair.  In just an hour after supper you could discover plenty of things, and perhaps bring home samples of things to be studied later at home.

    The key is just to learn to be observant and take the time to investigate and discuss what you see.  Do some research to learn more.  For example, a friend told my children that yellow lady bugs are poisonous.  So we looked it up to find out that some lady bugs do secrete a foul-tasting substance to deter predators, but that it wouldn’t be enough to harm us. (My 3 year old needed that reassurance!)

    Enjoy discovering what’s happening in your yard!



    You can be pro-active about this and create a plan on ways to invite Nature Study moments to your home…here is a blog post I wrote about using your porch/yard for Nature Study:


    I also did a post showing pages of our Nature Journals of things we found in our yard:


    This was a great experience and it was completely unplanned. The entire thing happened on our front screen/glass door!





    Wow! Sheraz and jmac17 – great examples. I would only add maybe asking your hubby to accompany you and the children on a Sat. or a few evenings here and there to that park and do the nature study there with him as a part of it. That may turn into a sweet serendipity that you did not expect!


    Thanks for all the suggestions!  My husband brought home a bird feeder a couple fo weeks ago.  I think I’ll put the little ones in charges of seeing that it gets filled so they feel more ownership in it.  I am encouraged to see that we are already beginning (naturally – imagine that!) to do some of these very things.  Maybe I AM growing into a real CM teacher after all!  And now we have several more ideas to add bit by bit that should keep us busy for quite some time.

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