When my first grandchild was about four, the two of us were on our way to the mailbox when I turned to see her squatting down, looking intently at something.

“What do you see?” I asked.

“Bug” she answered, not looking up.

Indeed it was. Not just one but an entire parade of ants. This was the beginning of an interest we shared on each visit over the next year. This interest I titled Our Backyard Safari.  We watched the ants marching back and forth for a while and I remembered the song about their marching.

“The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! hurrah!  The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! hurrah! The ants go marching one by one, The little one stops to suck his thumb.

“The ants go marching two by two, hurrah! hurrah! The ants go marching two by two. hurrah! hurrah! The ants go marching two by two. The little one stops to tie his shoe.”  (There’s more. Check at your local library. )

The next morning I pulled out the big magnifying glass I use when I do cross-stitch and we took it outside to look at the ants. Through the glass they were so big we could see them looking back at us.

Before the next visit I put together a Safari Kit, which we took outside. We looked in the garden, on plants, and under blades of grass to find other creatures, including a funny bug who curled up when we touched him. We found worms, a spider web with a big spider sitting in the middle, a caterpillar on the tomato plant (I took him off) and several snails hiding under ivy leaves. We found a ladybug, a grasshopper, and a lizard. Under a rock we found a slug.

The next morning we got up early to see how many spider webs we could find, and there were several, shinning with moisture in the morning sun. We cut pictures from magazines of bugs and birds and other things we had seen, and printed the pictures we’d taken with the digital camera. With some paste and a stack of blank paper, we began to write our own story on the pages and paste the pictures along the side as illustrations. Then we went back outside and collected twigs and flowers to add to the book.

A Safari can also be the goal of a trip to the park, a neighborhood walk, a picnic in the woods, or a trip to the beach. Be sure to take your Safari Kit with you. Pick up anything you’re unfamiliar with by using the wooden spoon. The while paper is a great place to put a worm to take his picture.


  1. Magnifying glass
  2. Piece of white paper
  3. Camera (Digital or disposal)
  4. Non-breakable jar and some plastic baggie
  5. Child safe scissors
  6. Stick or wooden spoon
  7. Hand sanitizer

WHY do this type of activity?

  • Fun fun fun
  • Introduces/reinforces curiosity
  • Promotes respect for other species and parts of nature
  • Adds a dimension to the grandparent/grandchild relationship
  • Is an added dimension to a foundation for literacy.
  • Fun fun fun.



Leave A Comment