Connecting to Nature during COVID-19
Resources for Parents and educators
Now more than ever, we need nature. Fresh air, exercise, and play bring a multitude of physical and mental health benefits including reduced stress and a stronger immune system. Nature helps us heal. It makes us and our children happier and more resilient.
The latest Bay Area-wide restrictions still allow for exercising outside, as long as we stay close to home, practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others, and follow the latest Department of Public Health order.
Below is a collection of San Francisco-based resources for nature connection from our partners.
Make Nature Inspired Art
Draw or paint outside or from the window. Discover Nature Journaling and learn how to teach it (John Muir Laws/BayNature), create Park Art Projects (Parks Conservancy), try Neighborhood Nature Art (Green Schoolyards America). Find inspiration from the Anywhere Artist book to create with rocks, leaves, pine cones, and twigs (Hannibal Ferret Story Books)
Explore! Look for bugs and other creatures
Use garden binoculars to help you look close (SF Botanical Gardens). Take pictures with a camera or phone. Use seek by iNaturalist, the family-friendly app that helps you identify and learn about species while earning badges (Cal Academy). Use Merlin to help identify birds (the Cornell Lab). Celebrate Bug Month with the Randall Museum.
plant a seed and watch it grow
Bring nature inside. Grow plants from with seeds you may already have in your kitchen (A piece of rainbow). Try growing your own beans (Food Corps), avocado (Avoseedo), and making seedling pots from toilet paper rolls (Instructables). Pre-K-2nd grade students can follow the journey of a seed from germination to compost with SF Environment’s mascot Phoebe the Phoenix’s, “Every Seed Has a Journey” sing-a-long.
Engage all of the senses
Find a spot in nature. Sit still and observe what you see, hear and feel.
read about nature. Take story time outdoors if possible
Join the SF Public library Virtual Storytime with special guests like Mayor Breed! Tandem Partners in Early learning has storytime and activity guides for young children. Check out these multicultural book recommendations for K-5 plus virtual nature storytime ideas like Señorita Mariposa, a bilingual Spanish-English story about Monarch butterfly migration from the SF Botanical Gardens.
- REI | Ideas for keeping kids active during social distancing
- Green Schoolyards America | Bringing Outdoor Learning Home
- SF Botanical Gardens | Family Activities
- Back Pocket Learning | Nature Projects and Explorations
- Richard Louv | 10 Nature Activities to Help Your Family Get Through Coronavirus Pandemic
ONLINE LEARNING FOR KIDS
- Randall Museum | Bug Month Online, Ocean Week Online
- Tree Frog Treks | FREE (donation-based) science and nature online learning.
- Exploratorium | Learning Toolbox
- SF Unified School District | Resources for Learning
- SF Environment | Online Learning for Kids
- YMCA of San Francisco | Distance Learning Resources for Kids and Families
- National Audubon Society | Audubon for Kids – explore and feel connected to the natural world.
- North American Association for Environmental Education | Online resources, tips, & support for every grade level
- Nature Conservancy | Nature Lab – Youth Curriculum Platform
- California State Parks | Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students
- 4-H | At Home – Explore fun, educational activities and learning experiences for kids and teens to do at home.
- SF Public Library | Enjoy the Library from Home with the Library’s robust digital services. Cardholders have 24/7 free access to eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, classes, and more.
VIRTUAL NATURE VISITS
- Banff Film Festival | Free Outdoor Adventure films
- Cal Academy | Academy@ Home (including Animal Webcams)
- Presidio Trust | Presidio at Home
- Google | National Parks Virtual Tours | Virtual Museum Tours | Visit Mars
- Monterey Bay Aquarium | 10 Animal Webcams
- San Diego Zoo | 11 Animal Webcams
- The Atlantic | How Corona Virus is Influencing Children’s Play
- Medium | A Doctor’s View: The Restorative Power of Nature during COVID-19
- Children & Nature Network | FindingNature.org – A new national resource that will be updated each week with tips, tools, and blogs to help us stay connected to nature.
- Bay Nature | Pandemic Park Closures Aren’t Fairly Felt. But There’s Not an Immediate Alternative
- SF Bayview | Supporting your children during the COVID-19 outbreak