Turning your own yard into a classroom for free

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Classrooms will stay empty at least until fall, but what if you turn the outdoors into a classroom, for free? 

Jennifer Fee, K-12 Program Manager at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says, “You might think, ‘Oh I want to talk a walk!’ Well wouldn’t it be fun, especially if you have little kids, to do a rainbow walk and look for red, orange and yellow in your environment? It’s just a way of focusing your walk and focusing your observations and sort of opening up your senses.”

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology created science and nature activities for ‘Cooped Up Kids’ to support parents and teachers and to engage students in outdoor learning.

Fee says, “We always try to incorporate math and English language arts in a lot of the science lessons, so there’s lots of opportunities for the kids to make observations and think critically and write down their reflections.”

Opportunities that they can do independently, or you can do with them, like Jennifer did with her 9-year-old daughter. You can do Family Quests outdoors, or indoors when the weather isn’t so ideal.

Fee says, “We did experience on flight, on bird flight, and one of the hands-on related activities was to build paper airplanes and do different designs and test them.”

Kids can use their observation skills by looking at their habitat through the eyes of birds. This Explorer’s Guidebook can help, or you can download the Merlin Bird ID app

Fee explains, “By answering just a few simple questions, like magic, Merlin will help you identify the bird in your area.”

If you want to explore outside your area, you can visit the wall of birds in Ithaca without driving anywhere. 

Fee says, “We wanted everybody to be able to see it so we took and digitized the wall so you can zoom in and find out about all the families of birds in the world.”

Helping your family stay safe and allowing your child’s creativity to grow.

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