Whether you need outdoor time right now or are planning your to-do list for when the county’s Safer at Home mandate is over, our 30-Day Nature Challenge is sure to do the trick. These simple tasks are ripe for outdoor family fun and learning. These challenges can be done at the Garden, in your yard or neighborhood park, and some can even be done from inside your home. Enjoy!
Day 1: Enjoy a walk outside either at South Coast Botanic Garden or around your neighborhood.
Day 2: Go cloud watching. In your backyard, at the park, or anywhere comfortable and safe, lie down and relax. Let your imagination take over and find shapes and objects in the clouds as they float overhead.
Day 3: Texture hunt. Go on a search for different textures. Find something smooth, bumpy, prickly, fuzzy, waxy, and something wet! You could even try this in the house. Use your sense of touch for this hunt.
Day 4: Birdwatch. Take a walk and try to find as many different kinds of birds as you can. Sit very still and watch the birds do their daily activities. You might even find a nest!
Day 5: Hear nature. Use your sense of hearing to listen for sounds in nature. Close your eyes and listen. What do you hear?
Day 6: Collect stones. Go on a scavenger hunt to find unique stones, rocks and minerals – whatever catches your eye!
Day 7: Dissect a flower. Pick a flower from your yard and gently dissect it. Feel and look at each part. Pick the petals off. What’s inside? All flowers have a stem, petals and stamen (the part inside the petals). More details can be found here.
Day 8: Draw a flower. Find a flower (maybe the same kind that you became familiar with yesterday) and grab a pencil or colored pencils, paper and get started on your masterpiece! Drawing a flower forces you to take a longer, more focused look at it. You’ll see things you never noticed before!
Day 9: Smell nature! Smell the plants, trees and flowers outside. What does your nose tell you? Find sweet, sour, citrus and woody smells. What else can your nose find?
Day 10: Find a rainbow. Not always easy to do, but if you can’t find a real rainbow in the sky, you can find a rainbow of colors in nature. Look for Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
Day 11: See nature. Sit very still. Try not to talk. Look around and pay attention to what grabs your attention. Did you see something you’ve never noticed before?
Day 12: Backyard bug hunt! Go into your yard and spend time playing in the dirt – you will definitely find some critters. Use your best observation skills. Look under leaves, rocks, and branches. Think like a bug – where would you be hiding? And remember, look with your eyes but not with your hands.
Day 13: Make a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds love cane sugar water. All you need is an empty water bottle with a lid, cane sugar and water. Lots of easy DIY feeder ideas can be found here.
Day 14: Jump in a puddle! Next time it’s raining, grab the umbrella and galoshes and head outside! Find puddles and JUMP! 1-2-3 Go!
Day 15: Make mud pies. Ask your mom and dad, even your grandparents. When is the last time they made a mud pie? This is good old-fashioned FUN! All you need is dirt and water, and any ingredients you want to add (rocks, grass, etc.). The kids can get dirty with permission!
Day 16: Design a bird’s nest. Using what you can find in or out of the house, make a bird’s nest. Hair from a brush, small branches, leaves.
Day 17: Go on a leaf counting hunt! How many different types of leaves can you find? Count as high as you can!
Day 18: Photograph nature. Snap pictures of the nature around you and what stands out to you: interesting shapes, colors, patterns. Everything counts!
Day 19: Find animal tracks or homes. Look in your yard and neighborhood for signs that animals are living there. Paw prints in the dirt or on trails. Look for scat (that’s poop from animals)!
Day 20: Collect leaves. Go on a walk and pick up all the leaves you see on the ground. That’s called leaf litter! How much did you find? What colors, shapes and sizes did you find? Turn your leaf litter into a craft project and design a mural or collage!
Day 21: Examine spider webs. Look outside in dark, quiet places. Under benches, branches, leaves – anywhere a spider might live. Don’t disturb the web, just look and admire. Extra points if you see a spider in its web!
Day 22: Stargaze! Find a quiet spot outside (or from the window) to look up at the night sky. At night everything smells, sounds and looks different. Enjoy the night air while looking for constellations. Some fun resources can be found here.
Day 23: Play the Alphabet Game. Using objects in nature, find A-Z (apple/algae/aphids, bark/bug, California Poppy, etc.).
Day 24: Watch the sunset. No better way to wrap up the day then to watch the glorious colors with the fading sun!
Day 25: Watch the sunrise. Greet the day in the cool, quiet, peacefulness of the early morning. Caffeine is optional for those old enough!
Day 26: Use a compass. Learn how to use a compass – IRL or on your phone! Let it guide you around your neighborhood.
Day 27: Find water. Search your house, yard and neighborhood for water, natural or manmade – the ocean, waterfalls, hoses, sprinklers, faucets, even pools!
Day 28: Listen to bird calls. Even if you can’t make the sound yourself, you can listen! Early morning is best – sit quietly and listen to the birds in your area. You might even be able to see what they’re doing as they sing.
Day 29: Count butterflies. How many can you see and count? Can you name all the colors on their wings?
Day 30: Search for shapes. There are so many different shapes in nature, try to find a circle, square, rectangle, diamond, octagon and triangle!
To help support the Garden during these times, please consider making a donation. You can do so here.