Getting Out While Staying Home: Family Friendly Activities

by Tim Donner, Senior Educator for School & Family Programs

With schools closed and families staying home, the Education Department at Bird Alliance of Oregon recognizes the very real need for families to have access to fun and easy outdoor activities to do with their kids. With many hiking trails closed to the public, this is a perfect time to get to know your neighborhood and all of the nature nuggets that are right outside your door, ready to be discovered.

A photo showing the rainbow activity. Petals and leaves arranged in a row create a rainbow of colors from pinks to greens to yellows to reds.
An example of the rainbow color question activity.

While working from home, I have been finding time to take a moment to observe the American Robins hunting in the backyard and the Bushtits darting off the suet feeder when a bigger bird approaches. I am watching the veggie seeds sprout in the garden and the flowers bloom and fade on my daily walks with my dog and wife.

Staying home has given me greater appreciation for how green of a city we live in and how great it feels to simply take a walk and notice the seasons change.

To help your kids get outside and connect with nature close to home, here are seven Nature Challenges you can embark on together (there’s one for each day of the week!).

Seven Nature Challenges to Try at Home!

1. Name that Tree

Every tree has a personality all its own. Invite your kids to come up with personalities, names, ages, and stories for the trees on your block based on characteristics you observe. Is it big or small? Gnarly or smooth? What does it look like? What animals hang out on the tree? Greet your new tree friends on your daily walks!

2. Track the Blooms

Find a few flowers near your home. Visit these flowers every day to watch as they change, and keep an eye out for other animals that might be visiting the flower, too!

3. Rainbow Color Quest

On your walks, try to collect items from nature that represent all of the colors you would find in a rainbow. Line the items up near your home and observe them as they change over time.

4. Build a Nest

You might see bird nests on your walks; look high and low for them. Collect sticks and other natural material to see what it takes to make a replica bird nest of your own.

5. Bug Walk

Find a bug or a trail of ants and follow them to see what they see! What are they looking for? Where do they live? What do they eat? Is there something that attracts them, or areas they avoid? These are just some of the questions you might answer when you get down to bug level.

6. Sit Spot

Take a moment to find a spot that you go back to every day in your backyard or near your home and stand or sit there for 10-20 minutes and notice all of the little things that happen when you stop and observe. Bring a pencil and paper, and track your observations in a journal.

7. Bird Alliance of Oregon’s Nature Adventure Club

Join our stellar educators for weekly virtual “clubs” that engage children ages 6-11 with cool experiments, weird nature facts, and hands-on activities that kids can do with nothing more than paper, some markers, and their powers of observation. Register online!