Your Backyard is Actually a Nature Preserve

I think one of the best ways to teach children about nature, climate, and habitats is to start in your own town, in your own backyard or nearest park. We have been fortunate that we were able to purchase my grandparents home in Topeka, KS. Our backyard fence line is the Shunganunga Creek, which feeds into the Missouri River Basin.



The other day we went out in the snow to track our local red fox, and my older son said “we could have a zoo!” in reference to the several different sets of tracks we had throughout the yard. Fox, raccoon  and possibly another animal had tracked through the snow. I said, “we don’t need a zoo, we have a nature preserve!”

pretty sure this is Red Fox

possibly a raccoon?

possibly a raccoon?

not sure which critter made this print

not sure which critter made this print


I only hope my fancy upscale neighbors will understand my viewpoint. I will let the dandelions grow, I will let the shrubs get bushy, and I will let the clematis vine grow crazy-like, because it is not only my yard, but also the bird’s, squirrels, fox’s, rabbit’s, snake’s, and even that pesky groundhog who has ruined a retaining wall, along with the recent drought. I will let the grass die in the summer, I will figure out the names of native plants & animals (eventually), and I will teach my boys how to share this space with ALL of the creatures that live in it.


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