Sample Neighborhood Nature Club Activitiesbyb sample cover

Designed as a network of neighborhood “nature trails” with outdoor activities that are led by the Neighborhood Nature Club Leader, the Backyards & Beyond curriculum includes four units with eight trails, each progressively advancing the connections youth make with the outdoors.

A 20-page sample of the Backyards and Beyond Curriculum, including 12 pages from the Backyards & Beyond Leader Curriculum and two sample activities from the Backyards & Beyond Explorer Journal (*starred in the overview below) is available here for free download.

Click to view or download the sample. (6.3MB PDF)

Backyards & Beyond Curriculum Overview

Unit One Backyard Nature Connection

Trail #1: Sensory Safari — Sensory Safari fine-tunes Explorers’ senses by getting them outdoors right where they live and where they can find and observe animals, plants and other natural features. Awakening the sense of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste inspires a sixth sense, a sense of wonder and will lead Explorers to ask, “What is happening outside today?”

Trail #1 Activities:
1. Sight Safari* (*included in sample)
2. Sound Safari
3. Touch Safari
4. Scent Safari
5. Taste Safari

Trail #2: Seasons’ Greetings — Seasons’ Greetings connects youth with the natural world by investigating the unique signs of the seasons. Along this trail, Explorers investigate the recurring patterns of spring, summer, fall and winter, and observe seasonal changes of animals and plants.

Trail #2 Activities:
1. Signs of the Season*
2. Focus on the Season

Unit Two Neighborhood Nature Trails

Trail #3: Playing Naturally — The natural world is alive with sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes that stimulate the body, brain, and spirit. Regular, quality experiences in nature can greatly improve children’s physical health and emotional wellness. It is also a great medium for creative expression and social interaction. Trail #3 Playing Naturally challenges Explorers to go outside to increase their physical activity, enrich their creative expression, and get to know their neighbors and neighborhood.

Trail #3 Activities:
1. Go Outside. Be Active!
2. Go Outside. Be Creative!
3. Nature Play Challenge

Trail #4: Where Are The Wild Things? — Places where people live—city, suburban, or rural areas—are alive with wildlife. It just takes an active observer to notice. Where Are The Wild Things? highlights wildlife that live near homes in human-built environments. Along Trail #4, Club Explorers will get to know which animals share their neighborhood habitat by observing their characteristics, behaviors, and interactions.

Trail #4 Activities:
1. Wildlife Spotting
2. Wildlife Stories

Unit Three Community Natural Pathways

Trail #5: Natural Treasures — Earth’s natural resources are treasures sought and shared by everyone and everything. They are the life force for animals, plants, and humans. How humans use natural resources affects all life on earth—from plankton to pine trees, and from praying mantises to polar bears. Explorers of Trail #5 Natural Treasures become aware of local natural resources, understand the importance of natural resources, identify water resources in their community and how animals, plants, and humans use water, and pledge to conserve natural resources on a daily basis.

Trail #5 Activities:
1. A Resource for Life
2. Youth Go Green!

Trail #6: Growing Naturally — Natural resources are essential components of healthy habitats and communities. They make up the web of life—an interconnected system of living organisms and non-living elements. Within this web of life is a complex system of food resources that plants and animals depend upon for survival and reproduction. All living organisms require food resources that are of ample quantity and high quality. Explorers of Trail #6 Growing Naturally become aware of locally grown food resources and they dig a little deeper by growing or enhancing food resources for themselves, their families, friends, and neighbors, including native wildlife.

Trail #6 Activities:
1. Home Grown
2. Growing Wild!

Unit Four Beyond!

Trail #7: Eco-Action! — Great news! Opportunities abound for every youth who wants to connect with the outdoors and take action to improve, enhance, and protect the environment. Along Trail #7 Eco-Action! Explorers identify their outdoor interests, concerns, and needs; take the lead to plan, design, and initiate environmental action projects; and contribute to scientific research, all while having fun outdoors with friends!

Trail #7 Activities:
1. Youth Environmental Action
2. Youth Citizen Science

Trail #8: Green Livin’ — Backyards & Beyond is an environmental journey that shapes and strengthens youths’ connections with the outdoors. Along this journey, youth fortify a child-nature relationship, sense of wonder, sense of place, and environmental action and leadership. This last trail addresses how youth can continue a green lifestyle beyond the here and now—into the future. Along Trail #8 Green Livin’, Explorers will rate their connection with the outdoors and take initiative to be lifelong environmental stewards.

Trail #8 Activity:
1. Seeds of Stewardship