Backyard Nature Discoveries

Backyard nature discovery! All you need is a magnifying glass, curious kids, and a backyard or nearby park. It also helps to have: piles of leaves, large rocks to look under, or in our case a sandbox used-as-an-outdoor-storage container to lift up, and a compost.

Our friend JG is first to discover a long, scaly creature living underneath the sandbox! He is also showing my son how to use a magnifying glass in the backyard, where to look, and what to find...

Peek-a-boo! JG and my son JN found a salamander. But we did not touch it because we did not know the name of it, and there are poisonous salamanders around. (It's also important to know the names of plants, as some are poisonous, too.) I need to get a book on salamanders... A good online resource, however, is

Yet another scaly creature! After we enjoyed looking at the creatures under the sandbox, we gently put it back.

My son is having a turn with the magnifying glass, and exploring the grass.

Now we're off to explore the compost. My son found several worms crawling around the rim of the compost. I miss the compost at my Montessori school. The director and her husband hand-built it in such a way that a child could stand inside of it (with boots on and garden gloves) and turn it with a shovel! How exciting it was to find half-eaten apples, slugs, worms, and other lovely creatures! (Soon I'll write a blog post on composting with children! I have over 20 years experience!)

Worms are so fun to explore! And they do such an important job in the garden and compost, which we all talked about with JG and JN.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our backyard adventure! And remember, in a Montessori environment, we begin with the concrete, sensorial, hands-on experience, with lots of repetition, language (names of creepy crawlies) then progress to books and matching cards and puzzles, as well as art activities. 

Some books you might enjoy from your local library or
  • Ready, Set, Go Green: Eco-Friendly Activities for School and Home K-1 (also books for older age groups).
  • Let It Rot: The Gardener's Guide to Composting.
  • Help the Environment Book Set/Series by Charlotte Guillain, ages 4 to 6
  • Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning: Using the Outdoors as an Instructional Tool, K-8
  • Sharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
  • For older kids (8 and up): The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms
~Lisa Nolan
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