The Big Backyard Challenge

Big Backyard Challenge

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What is The Big Backyard Challenge?

Do you want to inspire your students or your own children to put away the electronics?  Do you want them to go outside and explore nature more?  If you said, “Yes,” The Big Backyard Challenge may be just what you need.  “What is The BIg Backyard Challenge?” you ask.  Let me tell you about it.

Our school theme for this year is nature.  We want to encourage our students to put down their video games and turn off the TV.  There is so much to learn by going outside and exploring the world around you.  The book Our Great Big Backyard by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager is our inspiration.  We will be reading this book to encourage our students to turn off the devices and get outside to explore.

Big Backyard Challenge

How Did The Big Backyard Challenge Start?

At our end of year inservice, Kathy, my friend who teaches fourth grade, suggested that we create some kind of challenge to go along with our theme.  She thought it would be really neat if the kids could do 100 outdoor activities in nature.  She just wasn’t sure how to structure it.  Everyone thought it was a great idea.  Then, we left for summer break.

Over the next week, I kept thinking about this nature challenge.  How could we manage it with 100 activities and nearly 500 students participating?  Then, I thought of Bingo boards.  My students always love playing Bingo.  If we did 25 activities each quarter, that would give us all 100 over the course of the school year.  I was very excited about this and immediately created a Google Doc to get started on the project.  Thus was born The Big Backyard Challenge.

I shared my Google Doc with Kathy.  (Don’t you love how easy it is to collaborate with Google?  I don’t know how I survived before this.)  We both worked on it when we had time.  Kathy found some awesome links to experiments the kids can do with things in nature.  We decided to hold the students accountable by having them color in the boxes of the activities they complete.  They will also take notes or draw pictures on the back of the page to show what they did.

How Will The Big Backyard Challenge Be Used?

We plan to introduce The Big Backyard Challenge to the other teachers at our building during our inservices.  A hard copy of the challenge will go home with each student the first week of school.  That way they can take notes on the back of it and turn it in at the end of the quarter.  We are also going to post it on our website so the students and their families will be able to access the links.  They will also be able to print another copy if they lose the original one.

Hopefully, this challenge will encourage our kids to collaborate as well.  Older siblings can assist younger siblings with the activities.  Friends can complete activities together.  Instead of playing video games against one another, they will be working together to explore the world around them.

At the end of the quarter, students will return their challenge sheets to their teachers.  If they have completed 5 activities in a row to get Bingo, they will receive a small prize.  I’m hoping to get little nature-themed erasers, pencils, bookmarks, and notepads.  Any students who complete the whole board will get the prize plus a special certificate.  Those students who complete all four quarters of The Big Backyard Challenge will be invited to a Big Backyard Celebration.  Our school has a “Green Zone” with a pavilion and big grassy area.  We will set the party up there and have nature-themed snacks and activities.

Do You Want Your Class or Family to Participate?

Now that The Big Backyard Challenge is ready to go, we want to share it with you.  We were so excited about it that we even added a bonus summer Bingo board so you can get started right away.  We are going to give this board to our students at the end of the year to encourage them to continue exploring nature.  You can get it for free by visiting Teachers Pay Teachers.  Subscribe to this blog for further updates and other fun ideas.  I plan to post the certificates once I have them ready.

So . . . get up, go outside, and have fun exploring nature with The Big Backyard Challenge!


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8 thoughts on “The Big Backyard Challenge

  1. I love this project! I’m going to have to bookmark it for when I return to full time teaching! I’m excited that you’re encouraging kids to get back to nature – it’s much needed! Thanks for linking up at #bloggybrunch!

  2. I love this! The Pokemon craze has gotten the kids outside and walking, but they are still looking at their phones, this is a great way to get the kids outside and taking part in nature! You two are brilliant!!!

    1. That’s exactly what we wanted – kids outside exploring without the devices. There are too many beautiful things that you miss when you’re staring at a screen. Hoping my students enjoy The Big Backyard Challenge this year!

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