Summit Metro Parks We're Your Back Yard
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Backyard Explorers

Backyard Explorers Virtual Summer Camp

Backyard ExplorerIn response to COVID-19 restrictions this summer, Summit Metro Parks is offering an alternative to the traditional summer day camp model. 
 
Kids (kindergarten through 5th grade) can enjoy the four-part "Backyard Explorers" series. The series will provide kids and their families with resources to explore and discover nature in their own back yards.  A new backyard nature theme – bugs, birds, mammals and plants – will be introduced each week June 15 through July 6. All videos are available on the Summit Metro Parks YouTube channel.

Mammals

MammalsOur first camp theme is mammals! Learn about the warm-blooded creatures that not only call the Metro Parks home but can be found in your own back yard!

Activity: Making Tracks

Activity: Backyard Mammal Bingo

Let's look for mammals! Join Naturalist Lizzie on a mission to discover clues and signs that mammals have visited your back yard! Use our Backyard Mammal Bingo Activity (above) to help track your findings. Did you see any animals in your yard while you were exploring? Join a community of citizen scientists and record your observations on iNaturalist.
Join Naturalists Sarah, Lizzie and Carol as they talk about mammals! Learn what makes an animal a mammal and identify some of the furry residents and visitors you may find in your own back yard. Then, check out this visual guide to Ohio's mammals from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 

PLANTS

PlantsThis virtual camp topic explores the diverse plant life you can find in Summit Metro Parks and in your own back yard!

Activity: Make a Leaf Print

Activity: Make a Plant Press


Join Naturalist Dave as he uses a homemade plant press that can be built from a cardboard box! You’ll learn how to collect and dry plants, as well as some of the ways you can use them. Click here to learn about some of the flowers you might find in your back yard and here for some crafty inspiration! 
Join Interpretive Naturalist Joe to learn how the shapes, colors and growth patterns of leaves that can help you identify what kind of trees are growing in your back yard. Download our dichotomous tree key to help you along the way. Learn even more about trees found in Northeast Ohio here from ODNR. Use the leaf printing activity (above) to create beautiful works of art inspired by nature!
Looking for even more fun ways to dive into plants? Try making a planter out of a milk carton or starting your own seeds!

BIRDS

BirdsThis virtual camp topic explores the incredible birds you can find in Summit Metro Parks and in your own back yard! Learn what birds need to survive and how to attract them to your yard.

Activity: Milk carton bird feeder

Activity: Bird Stencil 

Activity: Build your own wren house 

Attract birds to your yard by using the instructional guide above to build your own up-cycled bird feeder with Naturalist Dave! Then, join Naturalists Becca and Woody to learn the basics of bird identification and how to keep a journal of your bird observations. Use the provided bird stencil to sketch in your journal the birds you see. Did you see any unusual birds in your yard while you were exploring? Identify them with Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Birds of Ohio field guide. Join a community of citizen scientists and record your observations on eBird
Join Naturalists Dave, Woody and Becca to discover how to create a bird-friendly space right in your own back yard! Learn what birds need to survive and identify some ways you can make your yard more attractive to birds. Extend your learning by visiting www.allaboutbirds.org.
Looking for even more fun ways to enjoy birds? Check out our bird bingo activity and learn why birds build nests.

BUGS

BugsThis virtual camp topic explores the often overlooked insects that help us in many ways. Learn what insects you might find outside, how to help them and how to attract them to your yard.

Download: Bee an Insect Ally

Insects Dichotomous Key 

Activity: Pollinator Hunt Color Chart

Explore along with Naturalist Janean to learn how to find insects hidden in your own back yard! After going on a bug hunt, try to identify what you have found using observations and photos. You can join a community of citizen scientists and record your observations on iNaturalist. Learn how to invite insects to your yard using the tips in our "Bee an Insect Ally" download above or by creating a pollinator habitat. Check out the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder tool to learn what plants are best for the bugs in your area!   

Join Naturalist Ben as he talks about insects! Learn what makes an animal an insect and how to tell them apart from other creepy crawlers in your back yard. Use our Dichotomous Key Activity (above) to practice your insect-identifying skills. You can also check out these guides from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for pictures of some Ohio insects: Bees and waspsDragonflies and damselfliesand Moths.

Looking for even more fun ways to enjoy bugs? Listen to a queen bee declare herself to the hive, make a TP roll butterfly get involved in dragonfly research and learn about the importance of pollinators!