Neighborhood Nature Walk
By Angela DiLorenzo
I’ve seen many families out walking during the pandemic. It has been nice to see bikes and scooters on the streets and pathways of our neighborhoods and parks. As the weather improves, we are pulled outside.
Consider taking a nature walk in your own neighborhood. I know we are separated from our Bellevue Botanical Garden programs, docents, and other nature professionals, but you can still enjoy the forested parts of our city. An after-breakfast walk is always a great idea—any day of the week will do. In the morning, the birds are noisy enough to follow. Remember to keep to the pathways.
See if you can identify the “caw” of the crow or the “melody” of the red-breasted robin. You do not need to be an expert. Stand still and listen, then let your eyes and ears follow the sounds to the bird.
Want your young children to stay engaged? Create toilet paper tube binoculars by taping two empty tubes together. Invite the children to color their binoculars. For added detail, tape a length of yarn or string to the binoculars to go around the neck. Now you have a great tool to keep your children focused on their nature walk.
Now what do you look for? Have you ever looked closely at the bark of a tree? Study the huge variety of leaves in our parks. Large and small maple leaves, serrated edge, and heart-shaped leaves. Have the children use their binoculars to focus on these observations. Ask them, “What shape do you see?” Their responses may surprise you.
As you walk, look at the shapes of the fallen branches, cones, and leaves. What could you make from these shapes? Maybe a dog, a horse, or a person? Take a bag with you on your walk. Collect fallen leaves and branches. Do not damage plants by pulling off leaves or branches. Pause during your walk to let the children create an image from the collected items in your bag. Remember to leave nature where you found it.
Have fun exploring!