Studying nature in the backyard is so convenient for busy mums. It’s manageable in the busy seasons of life when the children are young and venturing out on a nature expedition is too hard.
There is a secret world of living things in the backyard waiting to be discovered. It’s a step outside and finding an ant, bee or spider won’t take long.
Before exploring the backyard, caution the children not to touch or try to catch bees, wasps, centipedes, red back spiders and white-tailed spiders as they are poisonous. Ask the children to wear shoes to protect their feet, hats and sunblock.
The places to look for tiny creatures are:
- On walls, especially near outside lights.
- In the air flying about.
- In the garden beds, on top of the soil or under leaves. They take shelter in the cooler areas on hot days.
- Under pot plants.
- Under logs or firewood. Be cautious of snakes.
- Under rocks.
Explore the backyard for insects which:
- Slaters and
- Leaf Hoppers
- Stick Insects
Other insects include:
- Christmas beetles
- Lady birds
- Stag beetles
- Longicorn beetles
- Soldier beetles
- Beetle grub
- Aphids on roses and fruit trees.
- Harlequin bugs.
You may also find:
- Possums and
As you can see, there are many creatures in the backyard to discover. There are a few things you can do once you’ve observed an insect, bird or frog:
- Take photographs with your child to look at and discuss later. The photo may be pasted in their journals.
- A nature journal sketch may be made of the insects or animals observed depending on the age of the child.
- A bug may be collected and stored in a bottle with breathing holes and plant matter for observation. When the child is finished set the insect free.
- Start your own backyard field guide with the photos and information you compile with the children.
- Make lists of insects, birds and other creatures which visit your backyard. Make note of the time and date for future reference.
- Observe the seasons by recording the first time you see a ladybug, honey-eater or Christmas beetle in a Calendar of Firsts. Lynn Seddon from Raising Little Shoots explains how.
A great resource for nature study in the backyard is the “Australian Guide to Garden Wildlife by Bob Winters and Backyard Buddies.
What have you found in your backyard? What other activities would you suggest? Do you know a great resource which would help us dig deeper into the study of garden wildlife?