Creatures need not be exotic or large to be fascinating for kids. Encourage them to look around your backyard for ants, ladybugs, butterflies, squirrels and birds. Make a list of what they see and have them classify each living thing, helping them learn a little taxonomy. (Clipart)
Creatures need not be exotic or large to be fascinating for kids. Encourage them to look around your backyard for ants, ladybugs, butterflies, squirrels and birds. Make a list of what they see and have them classify each living thing, helping them learn a little taxonomy. (Clipart)
Oregon is gradually reopening, but social distancing is still required and at-home recreation encouraged. If you’re looking for ways to add variety to your kids’ pandemic routine, here are some no-cost, no-frills ideas to try in your own backyard.

Don’t toss the toilet paper rolls and instead bind two together with duct tape for a pair of play binoculars. Your kiddos can decorate them with stickers or ink and then see how many critters they can spy as they peer through the paper tunnels. Make a list of creatures spotted and classify each — thereby tossing in a little taxonomy instruction. Nature need not be exotic or large to be fascinating for kids. Encourage them to find and observe ants, ladybugs, worms, pill bugs (aka roly polies), butterflies, squirrels and birds. See how many days they can add something new to the list.

Got dirt? Then you have the makings of a bustling construction site. Pull out the hand shovels (or even old spoons), round up the toy trucks and cars, and let your children dig holes, pat piles, bulldoze small rocks and otherwise delight in the dirt. If it’s warm and you are brave, bring out the hose at the end of play for some mud puddle adventures. Squeals of delight assured.

To get out your young one’s wiggles, set up an obstacle course and blast some favorite tunes while you time how long it takes for the kids complete the obstacles. Nothing fancy required. Have them navigate a chalk-drawn hopscotch, jump rope, and balance on a log or piece of wood. Bring out the duct tape again and place evenly placed strips for your kids to jump over. Challenge them to beat their obstacle course time (safety) on multiple rounds.