Explore Your Nature Neighborhood

For immediate release ‐ May 01, 2020

Contact: Melissa Dowland, 919.707.9898. Images available upon request

This series offers tips and information to help you explore nature in your backyard through observation and nature journaling. Each topic includes a video and follow-up activities.

We recommend getting started by creating a nature journal out of common household materials. Then, choose a topic that interests you to continue exploring.

We will regularly add a new topics to help you discover other facets of your nature neighborhood!


Under a Rotten Log

Get outside and explore the hidden world beneath a rotten log. Learn who might be living inside or underneath and their important role in the ecosystem. Then make an isopod igloo to provide habitat for roly-polies in your yard.

Activities:
Rotten Log Investigation – Roll a log or flip a rock, capture a critter, and make a scientific diagram
Make an Isopod Igloo – Use a potato to make a roly-poly house for your yard


Trees to Meet You

Learn about some of the characteristics of a tree that you can observe to help you identify it. Take a closer look at leaves by sketching them with three different drawing techniques. Then, try a writing activity to help you think like a tree. See if you can identify your tree using free online resources from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Forest Service.

Activities:
Leaf Drawing – Draw a leaf using three different techniques
A Tree’s Life – Interview a tree in your yard and write a poem from its perspective

Resources for tree identification:
Trees of North Carolina
– An easy-to-use online key for tree identification from NC State University
Common Forest Trees of NC – Field guide (PDF) to common trees species from NC Forest Service


Citizen Science Adventure: Nature’s Notebook

Learn how to collect data for Nature’s Notebook, a citizen science project designed to track seasonal changes in plants and animals. Then, take a closer look at the buds and opening leaves on a tree as you practice drawing with texturing techniques.

Activity:
Drawing with Texture 
– Use texturing techniques to record the details of buds or opening leaves


Parts of a Flower

Spring is the perfect time of year to take a closer look at flowers. Learn how to identify the parts of a flower and then explore the flowers in your yard with a simple nature journaling activity!

Activities:
Plant Time Machine 
– Examine changes in a flower as it develops
Flower Parts Diagram 
– Use this diagram to help you observe the parts of a flower in your yard


Bird Observation

Get tips on observing and identifying birds and learn how to contribute to the eBird citizen science project. Then, try out a nature journaling activity to map the bird sounds in your yard.

Activity:
Sound Mapping
– Create a map of bird calls and behaviors in your yard


Looking Closely

Take advantage of one of the most simple yet powerful tools to observe nature in your backyard: a magnifying glass! Try an activity and take a closer look at the amazing world around you.

Activities:
Upon Closer Inspection – Examine the amazing details in your fingerprint
Seeing Like Georgia O’Keeffe – Select a natural object in your yard to observe with an artist’s eye


Using Your Senses

We can all learn to become better observers through paying attention to all of our senses. Take this video outside and follow the prompts to explore different ways to make sensory observations, then participate in a short nature journaling activity to record your observations through sketching and writing.

Activities:
Using Your Senses to Observe NatureLet your sensory observations become a prompt for creative writing
Nature Haiku – Try writing a nature haiku based on your observations


Creating a Nature Journal

Get outside and explore your very own nature neighborhood! Learn how to make a simple nature journal from common household materials, then take it outside and record observations of nature in your backyard.

Activities:
Create a Nature Journal – Step by step instructions to make your nature journal
Making Journal Entries – Tips for making your first nature journal entry


Educators: We are also offering this and other topics as free, online professional development workshops for credit. For more information, visit our Online Workshops page.

Back to the News