Sometimes the best places to explore nature are in your own backyard and in your neighborhood

Patrick and I get outside a lot, but sometimes it can be difficult to go somewhere we would like to explore. When we head to a nature park or trail we are usually there for a few hours, but some days we just do not have the time to spend a few hours outside. Or, as a one car family, sometimes it is not easy getting to a place.

Trail near our house

Patrick looks at flowers on a trail near our house

Sometimes the best places to explore are in your own backyard and in your neighborhood. When time or travel constrains, a world of nature exists right outside your front or back door.

Squirrel Encounter

Patrick has a squirrel encounter in our front yard

Whether or not you join your child or they explore by themselves in the backyard, having such a local area to explore allows for them to get to know a very particular patch of land: the kinds of bugs and birds that frequent our yard, the garden, the rats that live under a bush and come out for fallen seeds under our feeder, and all sorts of other things.

Mushrooms in our backyard

Patrick takes a picture of mushrooms in our backyard

Every day I pick Patrick up from school and we walk home. There are scores of opportunities for nature exploring within that 3/4 mile between the school and our home. At Patrick’s elementary school:

Evening light

Patrick plays with dandelions at his elementary school

At the public park a block down the street from the school:

Bird feather

Patrick finds a robin feather (I think!) at our local park

On an undeveloped trail winding through a grove of trees near our house:

Trail near our house

Patrick on a trail near our house

In some grass along the street by the middle school in our neighborhood:

Bug hunting in the grass

Patrick hunts for bugs near our house

And on our front porch:

On our new porch

Patrick looks at a bug he found on our porch

Nature surrounds us everywhere, even in urban areas. You can explore while waiting for a bus, while walking down the street, or even in a parking lot. Children’s eyes are always on the ground, and I am always surprised at how well Patrick is with spotting bugs here and there. But most important, no matter where you live, I am sure that you can find some aspect of nature nearby, at your home or in your neighborhood. You do not necessarily have to go far to get outside!

Previous: This week I am a Nature Rocks Ambassador! | Getting outside with your children should not be a tedious affair. Simply put, just get outside! | Keeping essential exploring tools handy makes nature play a more natural part of the day | Ways to extend outdoor experiences beyond outside | Nature in your neighborhood | Who explores nature for a living? Learning from naturalists and biologists | We are all connected: Chemically, ecologically, and evolutionarily

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11 Responses to Sometimes the best places to explore nature are in your own backyard and in your neighborhood

  1. Pingback: This week I am a Nature Rocks Ambassador! | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. It’s so true! I enjoy getting out with the kids for a hike in the mountains, but we have experienced so much in our own back yard. Sometimes it’s nice to just stay home, or I’ve got a lot of work to do outside and we need to be close to home. We have birds, bugs, plants, and critters, not to mention clouds and other weather to watch.

  4. Jeff Willius says:

    Nice! This is so true. I’m a big proponent of getting kids outdoors — whether that’s wilderness or one’s own back yard. One needn’t go far to experience wonder!

  5. Pingback: Connecting children to nature « The Dispersal of Darwin

  6. I was going to leave a clever comment, but Debi beat me too it. :)

  7. Pingback: We are all connected: chemically, ecologically, and evolutionarily | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

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