You don't need to venture far to experience nature. Here is a list of engaging activities to explore nature close to home, or even at home! Share your neighborhood discoveries and homemade artwork with us on social media by tagging us on @midpenopenspace and using #hiddennature.
Organize and Submit Your Nature Photos
Midpen’s Annual Photo Contest is open for submissions! This is a great time to look through your phone or camera for photos of Midpen trails and preserves. Relive the good memories of the outdoors, pick your favorite preserve photos and submit them to the photo contest. Contest categories include landscapes, plant life, wildlife, people in open space and aspiring photographers for youth in grades 6 through 12. The deadline to submit is May 31, 2020. Winners will receive a $100 REI gift card, a Midpen gift bag and a feature on Midpen’s fall newsletter. Good luck!
- Bird Watching Activity
Birds are your traveling neighbors, moving from place to place and calling almost anywhere home. You can do this activity in many places, like looking out of your window or walking through your neighborhood. This activity is great for explorers of all ages (adult guidance suggested for age 9 and younger) and is correlated with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to supplement science curriculum. Be curious and let your discoveries guide you! Download Bird Watching Activity
- Bird Bingo
Play bird bingo with your household in your backyard or local neighborhood. Spot all kinds of birds, mark them on the page, and bingo! This fun and educational activity provides names and pictures of common species that you are likely to encounter in your neighborhood. Download bird bingo card.
- Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
Engage the whole family with an outdoor scavenger hunt in your backyard or local neighborhood. Go outside and search for common outdoor objects provided in the activity sheet. Try to find as many items on the list as possible and each time you find an item, check it off the list. Another way to make a record is to take a photo of each item that you find on the activity sheet. Keep your eyes open for treasures and have fun! Download outdoor scavenger hunt list or make your own.
- California Plants and Wildflowers Crossword Puzzle
Test your knowledge of California plants and wildflowers in a crossword puzzle. Use only common names, omit ‘California’ and don’t use spaces. Download California Plants and Wildflower Crossword Puzzle and answer key.
- California Wildflowers Word Search
- Work together with your family to search for wildflower names in this word search puzzle. Download California Wildflowers Word Search activity and answer key.
- Invasive Plants Word Match Activity
Test your knowledge of invasive plants. Connect the images of invasive plants with the correct name. Download Invasive Plants Word Match activity and answer key
- Virtual Talk - Coexisting with Cougars
Join Midpen Management Specialist Matt Sharp Chaney online to learn all about mountain lions! Matt will provide an overview of mountain lion biology, habitat and current research. He will share how hikers, families and neighbors can stay safe in mountain lion habitat and how public open space agencies like Midpen respond to mountain lion encounters. Matt will also touch on Midpen’s Highway 17 Wildlife and Trail Crossings project and important legislation in the works that can help protect mountain lions. There will be time for questions and answers after the presentation. All ages are welcome! Once registered, a link to the online event will be sent out two days in advance of the event.
- Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Enjoy environmentally inspired short films from home! This year, Midpen and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) are co-hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival as a virtual four-week film series. Reserve your free ticket and tune in for amazing environmental films!
- Tour of Alpine Pond
Enjoy a peaceful virtual walk around Alpine Pond, adjacent to the Daniels Nature Center at Skyline Ridge Preserve. Discover pond habitats and learn more about the local wildlife that call this place home.
- Tour of Skyline Ridge Preserve
Take a virtual nature tour of Skyline Ridge Preserve. Visit different habitat types and learn about the plants and local wildlife that live there.
- Nature Events- Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
Discover some amazing virtual events and programs to keep you connected to nature while at home.
- Park Experiences - East Bay Regional Parks District
East Bay Regional Park District had developed great virtual reality tours of selected Regional Parks. You can now virtually visit the parks to discover more about these lands and their unique stories.
- Redwoods Videos - Save the Redwoods League
Experience the calm of the redwoods at home in a variety of virtual nature experiences. Find resources to recharge, reconnect and get inspired.
- Virtual Events - National Parks Week 2020
Get involved and celebrate National Parks Week by checking out all the great digital experiences and virtual events from the National Parks Service.
- Virtual Talks - San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
Expand your knowledge of birds, birding, science and conservation by joining San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory for virtual talks and discussions.
- Celebrate Golden Gate Park’s 150th Anniversary
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park. Explore the park virtually with special live cams, virtual tours and photo albums that feature some of Golden Gate Park’s hidden treasures, trails, flowers and popular destinations.
- Virtual Nature Events - Saved by Nature
Enjoy fun virtual events and programs to keep you connected to nature while at home.
- 8 Ways to Enjoy #NeighborhoodNature - Green Foothills
Discover different ways enjoy nature close to home with your family.
- Virtual Classroom Education Materials - Grassroots Ecology
Grassroots Ecology has transformed their elementary classroom educational materials into self-guided lessons you can do at home.
- Nature Experiences - Hidden Villa
Find many interesting and educational distance learning videos created by Hidden Villa. Learn more about farm animals, local wildlife and how to get started on iNaturalist.
- California Grasslands Video - California Native Grassland Association
Learn more about native California grasslands in a series of educational videos. Check out additional environmental education resources and worksheets for students in grades K-12.
- National Environmental Education Week Resources
Check out the variety of environmental education resources and activity guides you can do at home.
- Environmental Science Resource Guide - Families in Nature
Find environmental science lessons in this resource guide created by Families in Nature. The lessons are suitable for all ages and most can be done in your own backyard or home with minimal materials.
- Virtual Earth Day Activities - San Mateo County Office of Education Environmental Literacy Initiative
Find a list of virtual earth week resources and activities for all ages.
- Nature activities - Golden Gate Audubon Society
Enjoy these fun projects to learn about birds and nature at home and in your neighborhood. These activities are geared towards elementary school children and available in English and Spanish.
- Earth Week - City of Cupertino
Celebrate Earth Week from home! The City of Cupertino has gathered many online Earth Week activities for you and your family to enjoy. You’ll find crafts, activities, DIY projects as well as tips for enjoying nature, celebrating our shared planet, and saving money at home.
- Try Seek!
Seek allows curious naturalists of all ages to earn badges and participate in challenges to observe organisms with on-screen identification using computer vision for identifications based on data from iNaturalist.
- Meet Your Nature Neighbors on iNaturalist
Get to know your nature neighbors! You can use this time at home to get to know your local environment. Upload observations taken in your home or within walking distance from your home.
- Midpen Biodiversity Index on iNaturalist
Take a virtual tour of Midpen preserves and see what plants and wildlife visitors have seen in the preserves.
- Participate in the 2020 City Nature Challenge
This is an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. Find out how to participate!
- Common Wildflower Guide
This guide was developed for use at Midpen's Annual Wildflower Survey at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. It features the 100 most common flowering species seen during the wildflower surveys. See what type of wildflowers you can spot in your neighborhood or local park!
- Calflora Planting Guide
Use this handy guide to identify what native plants would grow well in your local area.
- Become Weed Whacking Warriors
Weeding is a great way to relieve stress. While at home, take this time to pull out those pesky invasive weeds that travel through yards and into public lands. For instance, removing early invading weeds like slender false brome and hanging sedge can really help. Get details on these two plants from San Mateo Resource Conservation District or check out the free Weed Workers Handbook from the California Invasive Plant Council.
- Keep a Nature Notebook
Keep a nature notebook, recording your local nature explorations: observations, drawings, pressed fallen leaves or flowers, images and more. You never know what you’ll discover once you start looking!
- Get Crafty with Nature Art
Enjoy art and crafts with your family using everyday nature items. Go outdoors and find leaves, flowers and plants from around your home. Arrange your findings on top of a piece of paper on a stable, flat surface. Once you are happy with the arrangement, place another piece of paper on top. Use tape to secure the pages in place, then use a hammer to hammer over the entire arrangement. Once you have finished hammering, remove the top sheet of paper and remove remnants of plant material. Your nature art project is complete! Thank you to the Weekend Sherpa for sharing the idea.
- Local Wildlife Coloring Book
Learn with your family about local wildlife through a fun coloring activity! The five critters you’ll meet in this booklet created by our friends at Peninsula Open Space Trust are all Bay Area natives that live in or near local creeks. Print the coloring pages at home, grab your crayons or colored pencils and have fun. Download coloring book.