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Backyard Adventures

I’m craving adventure. How about you? And I don’t just mean that I want to sit here at my computer and look wistfully at pictures of the far-flung places I had hoped to visit this spring/summer. I mean that I want to actually get out into the world and experience something new.

But, when we’re confined to our own houses/yards, how adventurous can we really be? I propose that we enlist the help of our local expert adventurers to answer that question: our children. I don’t have children of my own, but I have worked with enough kids to be able to imagine some of the questions they might ask that would guide our adventures. If you have children yourself, let them lead the way. If you don’t, then try and remember what things were like when you, yourself, were a child.

Try looking at your world from a new perspective. I don’t much fancy the idea of lying on my belly to take a look at the grass forest from an ant’s perspective, but placing a camera on that plane can achieve the same effect. Have you ever seen a red velvet mite or an exotic-looking pseudoscorpion moseying through your Michigan yard before?

When was the last time you wandered through a Dr. Seuss-esque forest of lichens and moss?

Once night falls, look up at the stars and see if you can spot any constellations. Sit and listen and see if you can hear the frogs singing from a nearby pool. If you’re lucky enough to have one on your property or on nearby public land, go check it out and see if you can find any eggs or tadpoles.

And finally, once it’s time to head back inside, consider continuing the exploration on your computer (whether you have a child to help you or not). Sometimes, it can be fun to let go of adult worries and cares and play a children’s game to calm down and remember what an awesome planet we all live on. Here are a few suggestions:

Discover Water’s Blue Planet Game. See how many times you can stop the spinning globe on land instead of water!

Play games about constellations, seeds, ecosystems, and more on PBS Kids’ site.

Challenge your friends to take a picture of an item outside for every letter of your name, and then compare pictures via social media at the end of the day to decide if all entries are “legal” and who the most creative person was!

Watch otters play via the Detroit Zoo's live otter cam. Other zoos, aquariums, and educational institutions have live cameras on their animals as well—search the Internet and see what you can find!

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