Explore things to do in our Backyard

People are drawn to this region by its stunning beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities. Yet we risk losing these things as more people bring increased development, creating urban sprawl and habitat fragmentation.

EXPLORE THINGS TO DO IN OUR BACKYARD

EXPLORE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

This children’s activity encourages your child to get up close with trees in your community. When your child uses their senses to learn the magic of the living tree will come to life for them.

The Activity

Stop by one of Bonner County’s beautiful parks and begin to explore the wonderful world of trees. Have your child select a tree and have them begin to get to know their special tree by using their five senses. Ask your child to describe their tree through touch, taste, sound, smell and sight.

Ask the following questions:

  • Is this tree alive? How do you know?
  • How is this tree similar to and/or different from other trees around it?
  • How does this tree help the environment around it?

Complete the Adopt a Tree Journal below. Revisit this tree on a regular basis throughout the year and in a variety of weather conditions. Have children guess reasons for the changes they see and then predict changes for the future.

Try this active simulation to give children an understanding of the conditions trees need to live and grow. This activity will also help teach that trees must often compete for their needs.

Doing the Activity

Challenge children to think about the things they need to live and grow. Then ask about the things trees need to survive. What are a tree’s needs and how do they get them? What happens to trees when these needs are not met? Explain how trees use leaves to capture sunlight and roots to access water and nutrients.
Did you know that for many species, a tree’s height is roughly equal to the diameter of its root spread?

tree-diagram

Explain to children that this information can be used to determine the root spread of a tree their size… or the size of their own root spread if they were a tree!

Ask the following questions:

  • How tall are you?
  • What is the diameter of your root spread? (the same as their height!)
  • How can we make a circle large enough to show the size of your root spread? (help them do so, using string or sidewalk chalk)

Have children stand in the middle of their root spread circle and pretend they are a tree. Remind children that trees are rooted to the ground and cannot move or talk in order to get what they need. Ask children to demonstrate how a tree might act if sunlight only reached one side. What might a tree look like if it is hungry, thirsty, or cold? What might happen if a tree’s root spread overlapped with those of other trees? How do trees compete for survival?

In this activity, children will discover the value of camouflage as they pretend to be birds in search of colored worms.

Doing the Activity

Many animals are “color coordinated” with their surroundings. Any coloration, body shape, or behavior that helps an animal hide is called camouflage.
With the help of a few simple household items, you can take children outside to explore this concept. Collect equal amounts of small, biodegradable objects in at least three colors that can be used to represent “worms” in an outdoor setting. Consider the tri-colored rotini or spiral pasta noodles, pieces of yarn, or shreds of paper.

Once outside:

  • Spread or hide your colored objects (“worms”) in a defined area
  • Have children “fly” around as birds and try to find the “worms”
  • Make a chart or graph to visually record children’s findings

If your first trial was on grass, try the same exercise again on asphalt, or within a forested area. If you are working with multiple children, construct a relay race to find the scattered “worms.” The winner of the race is the first team to get every child on the team at least one “worm.” Children will most likely find the least camouflaged objects first.

After completing the activity, ask:

  • What color was easiest to find? What color was hardest to find? Why?
  • Was there a pattern to the order in which the different colored “worms” were found?

Did you know?

Did you know a box turtle’s dappled shell mimics the spots of sunlight on the forest floor?

Nature provides us with many unforgettable sounds. Breezes whistling through the leaves, birds singing early in the morning, and streams gurgling over rocks are just some of the sounds children recognize.

Doing the Activity

Sound helps animals in a number of ways. Explain to children that having ears on opposite sides of our heads enables us (and other animals) to judge the location a sound comes from. Find a safe, comfortable outdoor space where children can sit quietly. Then have them close their eyes and listen to the sounds around them for several minutes.

  • Provide pencils, crayons, and paper, and ask children to make a “sound map.” They can put an X in the middle of a page to represent themselves, and then use pictures or words to show the locations of the sounds around them. Encourage them to use lines to show directions and distances.
  • When reviewing the sound map, ask children: Which sounds did you like most? Least? What else did you hear? What might have caused the sounds you heard?
  • Ask children to name some animals that are active at night. Do they have any special adaptations for seeing and hearing in the dark? For example, foxes have large ears for picking up small sounds. Have children mimic fox ears by cutting off the bottoms of paper cups and gently fitting the cups over their ears (see example below). How does this change what you hear? Can you add any new sounds to your map after listening with these new ears?

animal-ears

All activities provided by Project Learning Tree. For more activities visit their website plt.org

Geocaching (World’s largest scavenger hunt)

Geocaching is an any day, any time adventure that can take you to amazing and beautiful places, or even just a place in your town that you haven’t been before. There are 2 million geocaches worldwide; there are probably even some near you right now. To start finding them, just get out your phone or GPS, create a free account, and start exploring. Kudos if you locate one of the six caches that KLT has stashed around Sandpoint.

EXPLORE LOCAL HIKES

Find more trip reports, trail descriptions, and hiking resources at hikenorthidaho.com.

  • Beehive Lake Trail to North and South Twin
    by Don Otis on August 28, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    The trailhead starts at 4,450’ in Upper Pack River. We drove from Sandpoint and started out from the trailhead by 7:30 in cool conditions (gloves and long sleeve) until the sun reached us over read more »

  • Parker Peak
    by Don Otis on August 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Parker Peak is the highest named peak in the U.S. Selkirk Range. It is 7,670 feet but it is not an easy one to reach. Landon Otis and I started at the Pyramid Pass trail #13 (take Trout Creek Road read more »

  • Blue Mountain (Big Blue)
    by Don Otis on September 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    On September 25, we set out from an empty village on Schweitzer Mountain and made our way to the top for the Quad. The Nature Trail was compromised by construction and no signs have been placed for read more »

see more hikes »

EXPLORE BOOKS

Local publishing house Keokee Books produces many regional books. Amongst the many titles that cover geology, history or people are the best “Wild Trails”

Guide books around. Find them online or in local stores.

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Cover-Trails-Wild-Cabinets
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