Monday, August 21, 2017
   
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Your Backyard Is the Perfect Schoolyard

Category: March/April 2017 Issue

Spring has sprung, and it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the weather before the temperatures take their expected turn and the humidity starts to creep in. Enjoying nature is especially nice when done as the first buds of spring are peeking through and everything is fresh and green. 

Spruce up your springtime family time with activities that will add a new burst of excitement. Give the kids something to look forward to when they hop off that school bus! In this modern era of video games, tablets and smartphones, the beauty of our natural surroundings is often forgotten. 

To be honest, there’s no need to go far. There is so much that can be found in our own backyards that can be fun, yet still educational for our children. The advance of spring means that the outdoors is really waking up again, and being there for that seasonal awakening can be a beautiful part of growing up. 

Let your kids experience the coming of spring by considering a few of the following activities: 

Plant some grass! Older elementary aged kids are capable of filling and operating a seed spreader. Smaller kids will delight in tossing handfuls of seed and will enjoy watching it grow. Toss some Delta soil-friendly seed onto the bare patches in your lawn. This weeks-long project enables your child to take on the responsibility of ongoing work while still getting the reward of watching nature in action. Let kids water the seed on a schedule. Encourage them to think about the weather, and how it may affect the newly planted seed. If you think watching a bean plant grow is exciting for children, just imagine their excitement over an entire lawn of fresh new grass that they, themselves, made happen! 

Create a Bird Habitat! Children love watching birds, and the Delta region is rich with many species. Attract feathered friends with a variety of feeders. Let your children decide which birds they want to attract (Cardinals? Hummingbirds?) and allow them to participate in researching which feeds and feeder styles are best for each species. Build responsibility by letting kids clean and care for the feeders. Attracting birds is especially fun for a child who does not own a pets, due to allergies or other reasons. In a sense, a backyard full of happy birds at feeders can make these beautiful creatures seem like special “pets” when cared for properly. 

Build a Terrarium! Building a terrarium gives kids a chance to create a tiny micro-climate from things found in their own backyards. An old fish aquarium would make an excellent terrarium, but you can also make one out of something as simple as an old pickle jar. Let the kids fill the jar with rocks, soil, moss, and moisture-loving plants they find in the yard. Sprinkle it all with water and let the kids discover through trial and error which plants thrive best in the moisture. It is an excellent learning experience for your children, and a terrarium can be very beautiful and artistic, as well, if care is taken to make it attractive. There are many websites on the internet (and books at your local library) that can guide you in setting up your first terrarium. 

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but they are only a start. How about starting a bug collection? Planting an herb garden? Creating compost from old leaves? Growing earthworms, so you have free bait for all the upcoming summer fishing trips? 

Your backyard is filled to the brim with affordable, fun, and educational activities that are no further than a few steps outside your door. 

 

Kara Bachman is a writer, editor, and mom to a 17-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

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