We are all in for big hikes in the outdoors, but you don't actually need to travel very far to explore an ecosystem. You'd be amazed at what you can find on a micro-hike in your own yard. What is a micro-hike, you ask? The idea comes from Joseph Cornell's book, Sharing Nature with Children: The Classic Parents' and Teachers' Nature Awareness Guidebook, and focuses explorers on examining a very small area by getting down low to the ground. And Kid Made Modern's Backyard Explorer Kit and Nature Journal Kit are great tools to get you started!
- rope or string cut to 6 - 10 feet in length
- Set up your trail -- look for a good spot in your yard or any outdoor area to set up your "trail." Look for areas that have items that can be picked up (like rocks or logs) and contain different habitats (mulch, grass, rock, water). Use the compass to find a direction and then stretch your piece of rope or string out to create the trail length.
- Get low! -- sit or lay down in your trail area and start to focus on the small things.
- Hike -- move slowly along the length of your trail. Use the magnifying glass to start and look for plants and organisms in your ecosystem. You can record notes in the Explorer Kit's notebook as you go along.
- Journal -- after you've completed your hike, sit and think a bit about what you found. Take some time to review your notes and journal your thoughts in the Nature Journal.
Try setting up different micro-hikes in the same environment and see what you can find!