Challenge 8: Explore your yard with a beanpole tent

Show kids the importance of nature in your backyard, which all works together to create a healthy environment. Help them make a beanpole tent to explore this important microhabitat.

Make It!

What you’ll need:
• 10 bamboo poles, 4 to 6 feet tall. (Find these at garden stores or order online; select longer poles if you want to build a taller tent.)
• Twine
• Pole bean seeds
• Climbing flowers (optional)
• Extra soil and compost (optional)

Try It!

Have kids use the tent to help them explore the biodiversity in their yard. For instance:

• Using the telescope from Challenge 5, have kids track birds in nearby trees. Do the fliers behave differently if the child is sitting in the tent rather than standing outside? See how long the birds will stay in a tree if the kid is hidden versus standing right underneath them.

• Kids can also use the telescope to sit on the porch and watch what critters—squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, etc.—the beanpole might attract to their yard.

• Have children use the magnifier from Challenge 1 to explore the ground as the beans sprout. How is it different from the ground where other plants are growing?

• See if kids are brave enough to go backyard camping at night! How are the sounds different versus during the day? What different types of critters do they hear?

Save It!

Now that kids understand the diversity of your yard, inspire them to protect it. Here are some ideas:

A healthy, biodiverse yard has plenty of birds. Help kids attract them by crafting a DIY bird feeder and birdbath.

• The beanpole might also attract small mammals like squirrels and rabbits. That’s great for biodiversity—for instance, more poop helps your yard grow—but not so great for your beans. Safely deter the critters from the beanpole by sprinkling strong spices like cayenne pepper and chili powder around the plants.

• When the beans are finished growing for the season, usually toward the end of the summer, pull the vines down from the structure to use as compost for the other plants growing in your yard.

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