Written by: Gemma Romano, Southwestern Program Coordinator
Summertime is my favourite time of year to get out and explore the wonderful world that surrounds us. Not only is it an incredibly lively time to observe the magic of plants and animals, but it is also easier to get outside because you do not need to bundle up to have fun. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to get outside if you do not have any ideas about what to do once you are out there. In this blog, I want to share some fun activities that can be easily done anywhere outside. And I mean anywhere! I use to think that you had to be deep in the forest to see amazing nature, but as I have discovered, the city can be a remarkable place too.
I have been living in the city of Kitchener for 3 years, and I have been shocked at the amazing wildlife that I have seen within the city limits. I have spotted a Red-Tailed Hawk being chased by Red Wing Black Birds right outside my window; I have seen Eastern Cottontail Rabbits munching away on a clover patch in a local park; and I have even watched a sly coyote navigate their way through a busy neighbourhood. It is truly amazing what you can see when you take a few moments to slow down and observe your surroundings.
Before you go on your outdoor adventure I also want to provide a list of key items to have so you are prepared:
- A reusable water bottle: It does not even have to be a fancy metal one. You can simply reuse a plastic bottle you have laying around the house.
- Sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s powerful rays
- Comfortable shoes for all your exploring
- A buddy to share your experiences with
Alright, now that you have your items all packed up, let’s get into some of these ideas.
Jump to Specific Activities:
This is one of my favourite activities to do outdoors during any season of the year. All you need for this activity is a notebook, a pencil and an outdoor location. Creating your own journal using recycled materials is a fun way to make the journal unique to you. Here are a few links to some neat recycled journals:
Once you have a journal, now all you need to do is find a spot to sit and observe the sights and sounds that surround you and record them in your journal. To get the most out of this activity, I like to pick a “Sit Spot” that I visit a couple times a month. Your Sit Spot can be anywhere you want; under a tree, on a bench in the park, in your backyard, or even next to a window in your home. When you revisit your Sit Spot, you have a better chance to notice all the amazing changes that are happening.
If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas of what to write about or draw, here are some prompts:
- Write a poem about the summer: the colours, the smells, the sounds, the feelings
- Draw out an experience you had outdoors: playing soccer, watching a bird or squirrel, seeing an ant carrying something amazing
- Record or draw the growth of a plant that is near your Sit Spot
- Listen and write down how many bird songs you can hear. If you saw the bird, draw it!
- Learn some of your local animals, and draw them in their habitats
- Record the weather everyday you go to your Sit Spot
Here is an example of some Trout Lilies that I saw growing in a small forest close to my house. I thought that they were amazing, so I had to draw them. Can you guess what colour they might have been?
2. Animal Yoga
This is a fun activity to do in a local park or outside your home. Simply go outside and try to create animal names for different yoga poses. If you can, try to come up with names of animals that live in Canada. Maybe you will have to do a little bit of research about the types of creatures that live close to you. Here are some examples:
Great Blue Heron
This activity allows you to explore the power of the sun, and in the end, you get to walk away with a tasty snack or a cool craft. You can make this solar oven outside in the sunshine, or you can make this oven indoors and use a window that gets lots of sunlight. While you might have a little bit more preparation to do for this activity, the materials are most likely things that you have laying around the house.
Watch our Relay Team Member Jayden make a Solar Oven in the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21jjPjKIm80
Here is a link to the full description of how to make the solar oven: Instructions for DIY Solar Oven
If you are someone like me and you love anything that has to do with pirates, this activity might be the one for you. Geocaching is basically an organized treasure hunt that has been created by people all around the world. All you have to do is download an app on your phone, create a login, and start adventuring using the GPS on the app. Check out the Geocaching Website here.
The basic rules of Geocaching are as follows:
- Once you find the Geocache, please do NOT move it away from where you found it.
- Sign or draw your name on the sign in sheet.
- You may only take an object found in the Geocache if you replace it with one of your own items.
This is a great activity to do in the city, and it gives you a chance to explore some local areas that you might have never explored before. Don’t forget to take your Geocaching on any adventure you might be doing this summer. You never know what you will be able to find!
If you are looking for something a little bit more relaxing to do outside, Nature Art is an easy activity that does not require any materials other than what you can find outside. Inspired by the artist Andy Goldsworthy, the idea is that you make art using anything you find outside.
Here is a picture of a simple spiral that I made from some pinecones.
This is an easy piece to start out with and you can use anything you can find; rocks, flowers, leaves.
The best part is once you are all done your design, you can leave it in the spot where you created it so other people passing by can see your amazing artwork. Someone might even start adding to it. Eventually your artwork might disappear, but this gives you an opportunity to create something new. Don’t forget to take a picture of your art so you do not forget what you created.