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From the Spring 2014 Conservationist for Kids

student in wildlife shelter

Let's Go Exploring!

By Gina Jack & Jeremy Taylor

You can explore the outdoors every day when going to and from school. As a class, pick a date to start recording the natural things everyone sees along their school routes. Whether you walk, travel by car or bus, or take the subway, keep your eyes open for plants and animals like birds, mammals, and even insects. After a week, make two maps of your community on large sheets of paper. On one map, record what everyone saw on their way to school, such as insects on flowers, birds on wires or squirrels in trees. On the other map, do the same thing for the way home. Compare the two maps and list which things are the same and which are different. You can also do this with your friends, your family, or even by yourself when going other places.

Observing wildlife is fascinating.

Use natural materials found outside to build a shelter you can hide in. While hiding, watch the animals around you without them seeing you. Keep a journal describing what you see and hear. Invite friends or family to join you and share with them what you've observed.

Put together a backpack or tote bag of items to use while exploring outdoors. Include things to help you observe and record your findings and other items to keep you comfortable and safe. Always bring a buddy, and tell an adult where you're going.

  1. Notebook and pencil (including colored pencils)
  2. Binoculars
  3. Camera
  4. Sunscreen and hat
  5. Water and snacks
  6. Compass (know how to use it)
  7. Whistle (only for an emergency)
  8. Map (know how to read one)
  9. First aid kit
  10. Insect repellant

What else could you include?

kids on an over/under hike

Take an over/under hike.

Look up at tree tops. Flip rocks and logs over to see what lives under them. (Be sure to return rocks and logs to the way you found them.) Record the findings in your journal.

Watch out for ticks and poison ivy so you can avoid them. Some ticks carry diseases, and poison ivy can leave you with an itchy rash.