Backyard Discovery Zone

February 12th, 2013 posted by Brenda Hyde

child with magnifying glass

Many zoos and nature centers have “discovery zones” for kids to learn about different animal skins and other items in nature. You can do the same thing in your backyard. All you need is a bandana to use as a blindfold, paper and pencil, a table and nature from your backyard.

Setting up:

Using your picnic table or other flat surface, place items from your backyard in a row. Prepare this step where the kids can’t watch. These are the types of items you can use:

  • Leaves
  • Flowers; especially ones that have interesting texture such as globe thistle.
  • Seed pods like milk weed (open it up to the silky part), acorns, pine cones, and flower seeds too.
  • very tiny stones
  • grass

Basically, you want to look around your yard for any type of natural item that the kids can feel and try to identify. Set up each item in a “station” with a number in front of it. This becomes your Backyard Discovery Zone.

Using Your Discovery Zone

Guide each blindfolded child to the stations, one at a time, and ask them to identify the items. Write down their answers. As each child finishes, they can watch the others. After everyone has taken a turn, look over the answers as a group and see who did the best. Discuss why they thought their answers were correct and what characteristics did each item have that made it unique. At this point you can either make a trip to the library for nature books, or have them picked out ahead of time and available for the kids to look up the items. Once you have set up the first time, the kids can take turns finding items for their own zone and watching everyone, including Mom and Dad, try to identify the items they have chosen. You can allow this to be as elaborate as you like. Each child can make a notebook of their zone items with identification information and drawings. They could also keep a box with the actual items and 3×5 cards with the identification of each thing. A field trip to the park or beach with paper sacks would be a great for finding new zone items! A Backyard Discovery Zone is a great family project. It sharpens our children’s observation skills, as well as inspires creativity and an appreciation for the natural world around us.

Brenda Hyde (51 Posts)


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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!


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