Family Science Learning Overview

Use this activity to focus your walks to observe the variety and density of species, kinds, and their behaviors in your neighborhood ecosystems – including humans!

This observation can help you understand components of socio-ecological systems and begin to think about the relationships and cycles they are part of. Walking together and making these focused observations will encourage question asking and thinking about the decisions humans make in the places we inhabit.


Use the activity sheet to guide your thinking while you walk, or you can draw the boxes  on a piece of paper or try using a journal to collect your observations over time.

  • Look for signs of species, kinds, and behaviors and draw or write anything interesting that you see. 
  • If any new questions come up, write them down and come back to them later.

What Can You Do To Support Learning?

  • When you walk with your family, don’t worry about knowing the names of plants. Instead look for patterns of growth and stages of life. What is the shape of the plant? How does it look in this season?  Which plants are growing in clumps, and which are by themselves? Pay attention to light, and observe which plants seem to like shade, for example. Which are growing in the sun?
  • Look closely for signs of animals if you can’t see any. You can scan the ground and look for scat (animal poop!), or pieces of a pine tree’s cone. Look closely at plants and trees or the ground. Do you see holes? Or maybe some bite marks? If you find some scat or an owl pellet, use sticks to gently dissect it and look for what the animal ate. Also don’t forget to notice people too!
  • Try walking quietly for a while. What do you hear? Imagine you are a coyote, creeping through the neighborhood. What might you see or smell in the night? Imagine you are a bird, flying over the neighborhood. What might you see or feel soaring through the sky?

Activity Sheet

Connecting with Other Families

Write an email or a letter to a neighbor. Tell them about something you observed. Ask them if they have observed something similar or interesting.  Take pictures of what you see, and text them to your friends. Ask them what they have been observing.

Connect to Other Activities

LE 3 Taking a focused walk together

  • Extension ideas: Use your notes to keep track of what you see when you return home. You can make a map to track your observations, or draw a picture of your neighborhood and add in detail as you learn more.

Learning in Places Frameworks to Consider

  • Species, Kinds, and Behaviors
  • Observation and Data Collection 
  • Complex Socio-ecological Systems Reasoning
  • Place and Place-Designing
Example relationship walk and species, kinds, and behaviors walk