Fri, 22 May 2020

Exploring Biodiversity from Home

Biodiversity can be found all around, in the local forest, along our favorite hiking trail and even in your own backyard. At HCTF we believe that by making BC’s unique and abundant biodiversity accessible and giving other the tools to explore it we can inspire a passion for the natural world within the next generation of conservationists.

While learning about and exploring nature may be more difficult at the moment, our HCTF Education team has collected some resources for children, families and students of all ages. You can find the full list of HCTF E-Learning resources here or try this list of 25 ideas to explore the biodiversity from your own home.

Top 25 ideas to explore and learn about biodiversity at home!

  1. Make your own backyard nature trail or park. No backyard? Then create a fairy sized trail on your patio or draw one with washable markers on your living room window or create nature trail inside your home with pictures and signs noting special features.
  2. Do a nature count! How many different birds, bugs, animals, spider webs, tracks do you see? Monitor them daily and graph. Join a citizen science program like Frog Watch, Plant Watch, Nest watch or participate in bird counts or a bio blitz.
  3. Create a nature journal. Record observations of critters you see coming and going or what you hear.
  4. Build a habitat such as an insect hotel, toad home, bird house or design a replica of one for your favourite animal.
  5. Record sounds of nature in the morning and evening. See how many different kinds of wildlife you can identify. Use an app such as ebird to help you solve the mystery voices in nature.
  6. Setup a bird feeder or make one. The most popular type of bird food is sunflower seeds – black oil (thin shell) or striped (thick shell). Use your binoculars or make some out of toilet paper tubes for younger children (how to guide) and observe what species are using your feeder.
  7. Look for tiny creatures. Make a pooter (how to guide), put an old pillowcase on the ground or have someone hold it, then gently shake a branch of a tree or shrub atop it. Use your pooter to collect what you find and put it temporarily into a container and take a closer look.
  8. Check out some live wildlife web-cams. If you have some technology to video, try videoing your own backyard creature or pretend to interview an animal. Use your imagination and pretend that the animal responds to your interview questions.
  9. Map the species in your area. Check out the creature feature map.
  10. Design a travel or info brochure about the plants and animals that live in your area.
  11. Create an animal mask, model or replica. Write a movie script or play animal charades.
  12. Play Nature Bingo! Draw a 5 x 5 grid of squares on a 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper and then play bingo for a fun family activity. Use any of the Backyard Scavenger Hunt lists for the bingo ideas (more ideas here!).
  13. Make a plant rubbing ID guide with plants in your yard or nearby green space. Put a piece of paper on top of a leaf or tree bark and gently rub a crayon on top of the paper to see the pattern.
  14. Design an outdoor wildlife garden. What species would live there? What kind of food, water or shelter do they need?
  15. Sit Spot. Choose a special spot in your yard and sit quietly for 5 minutes.What can you see or hear that you might not notice otherwise? Go to your sit spot every day and notice the world around you and what changes.
  16. “Adopt a plant”. Choose a flower or shrub in your yard or a houseplant in your home to “adopt”. Measure it (or part of it that you can easily recognize, its stem or a prominent leaf). Notice if any insects have eaten any part of it or if other life is in its soil or living on its surface. Sketch or photograph what you see. Come back regularly to your adopted plant to record how it is changing. Make a photograph series or a flip book showing how your plant changed over time.
  17. Pattern Hunt – How many different shaped leaves can you find? How many shades of green? How many things are flying by? If you have a partner to play with, take turns choosing a category (you could choose 6 categories then roll a die to see which one is your challenge) and then see how many patterns in that category you can find.
  18. Pollinator Survey Keep your eye on flowers to see who visits them and helps them to produce fruits. Watch for hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects. Learn how to tell the difference between different types of insects and do a pollinator survey. Check out the NatureKids Pollinator Survey.
  19. Photography Mysteries. Take zoomed-in photographs of nature in your yard, such as the texture of a tree’s bark, a close up of a leaf surface, the inside of a flower, anything that is interesting to you. Show the photos to someone else and challenge them to guess what it is or to go outside to find the object.
  20. Nature Sketching. Everyone can be an artist. Use a pencil and paper and sketch what you see. (Tips & resources here!)
  21. Biodiversity in a spoon. Get a variety of measuring spoon sizes (1 Tbsp size to 1/8th teaspoon). Find small natural objects that fit in your spoon and try to bring them to a tray or larger container without letting them fall. Show off your miniature “museum” collection, then return them to their original spots.
  22. Create Nature Art. Make nature mandalas or temporary structures out of natural objects that are on the ground- cones, petals, branches, rocks.
  23. Nature in a Minute. Count how many different types of living organisms you can find in one minute.
  24. Host an Animal Olympics. Find out how far and fast some animals can move and then see how you compare to them.
  25. Alphabet Soup. Look for the shape of every letter of the alphabet on bark, leaves, branches and other objects around you.