When explorers like Lewis & Clark ventured into new places, they kept careful track of everything they saw. You can do the same – in your own backyard or a local park! 

Here’s what you’ll need:  

  • a notebook
  • pens or pencils
  • crayons or colored pencils

Find a natural spot outdoors to explore. You don’t have to look far; a great nature spot can be as close as your backyard or your local park. Visit this spot once a week or so and write down the things you observe there. Remember to always go with an adult, or to let an adult know where you’ll be. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Using as many different adjectives as you can, describe the area you are in. Adjectives are descriptive words like brown, noisy and soft. Be sure to use more than just your sense of sight. How do things smell? What sounds do you hear?

Sit very still and close your eyes. Try to stay like this for at least three minutes. Listen to all of the noises and sounds you hear around you. Open your eyes again, and write down or draw pictures of what you heard.

Using a crayon and a piece of your journal paper, make leaf and bark rubbings of different trees and plants. You can do this by placing a piece of paper over the bark or leaves and then rubbing your crayon gently over the paper.

Then go to your school or local library and find a book about trees, or use an online guide . See if you can identify the trees from the rubbings you have.

Come back to the same spot at different times of the day, such as early morning, noon, dusk and night (with an adult, of course). What is different? What is the same? Write down or draw what you find. Try this again under different weather conditions. What changes and what remains the same when it is rainy, sunny, cloudy, windy, cool, warm, cold or hot outside?

Remember to stay safe

Always make sure an adult is either with you, or knows exactly where you are.

Keep a safe distance from wild animals. If an animal feels that you are a threat to its home or its family, it will attempt to protect itself. Remember - wild animals are not pets, they are not tame.

Make sure you know what poison ivy, poison oak, and other poisonous plants look like, and stay away from them!