• Find Urban Nature in Your Backyard

    September 27, 2018

    Nature is often thought of as being far away from the city, untouched by humans. In reality, nature can be found in the dense, urban environment of a city. Nature is everywhere, sometimes you just need to look a bit harder for it. Below are a few ideas to find nature in your neighborhood.

    Lincoln Park, West Seattle 

    Take a Walk

    Head out on a walk around your neighborhood the early morning to find urban wildlife. Hit the streets before the hustle and bustle of the day to find birds, raccoons, squirrels, rats, bugs and maybe even a coyote.

    Go on a Leaf Hunt

    Take a stroll and collect fallen leaves from around your neighborhood. Bring them home to see if you can identify what tree they belong to. Sites like iNaturalist can help with identification. Create a journal with leaf etchings to record your findings.

    Find a Bird Cam

    Bird cams provide a unique opportunity to watch birds in their nests. Find a list of bird cams on the Seattle Audubon site to experience birds in their natural environment without disturbing them.

    Photograph the Sky

    Find a spot near your home where you can see as much of the sky above you as possible. Take a photo of the sky everyday for a month around the same time of day and then compare the images. Does the sky look different depending on the weather? Are there any birds or clouds in the sky? What else is different about your images?

    Bug Hunt

    Look around your home or yard. Who else shares your home other than your family and pets? You might be surprised to learn we also share our homes with insects. Search your home and look in the nooks and crannies to find the bugs sharing your space. Take pictures or draw pictures of the bugs you find. Search online to identify the bugs sharing your home and yard.

     Observe the Seasons

     Does the city look different in different seasons? Find two areas for observation – one inside your home and the other outside. Observe these spots during various seasons – take photos, keep notes about what you see and after a year, look at your findings and compare how the four seasons are different in your urban environment.

    Plant Vegetation

    Plant a window garden or even a backyard garden if space allows. Watching plants as they go from tiny seeds to grown plants which produce their own fruit can be exciting. Growing plants can be a great way to interact with nature while digging in the dirt.

    Head to the Park

    City parks can be wonderful places to find nature. Take a stroll around the park and take note of everything you see from weeds to birds and urban wildlife. Lie in the grass and observe the trees above you. Sit quietly and listen to the sounds of nature intermingled with the sounds of the city.

    By Rebecca Mongrain

  • 50 Fall Activities for Families

    September 24, 2018

    Autumn is a spectacular season with crisp leaves and cooler weather. Take advantage of the changing season by enjoying some fall specific outdoor activities like going apple picking or jumping in a leaf pile. We put together a list of our favorite 50 fun fall outdoor activities so you can enjoy this season to its fullest.


    Consider planning a late afternoon walk at Discovery Park this Fall


    Here are 50 fun fall outdoor activities for kids:

    1) Go Apple Picking

    2) Get lost in a Corn Maze

    3) Visit a pick-your-own pumpkin patch

    4) Jump into a leaf pile

    5) Play “I Spy” during a nature walk

    6) Collect and identify leaves

    7) Visit the zoo

    8) Take a hayride

    9) Roll down hills and listen to crunching leaves beneath you

    10) Visit a park and bring along a tree or bird guidebook

    11) Take a family bike ride

    12) Collect acorns and paint faces on them

    13) Go on a color walk, gathering outside “treasures” in yellow, orange, red and brown

    14) Have a neighborhood costume parade

    15) Play hide-and-seek with glow sticks

    16) Set up a fire pit and make s’mores outside

    17) Host a fall- or Halloween-themed scavenger hunt

    18) Visit an arboretum

    19) Attend a local harvest festival

    20) Visit a farm

    21) Take a drive to view the colorful foliage

    22) Collect pinecones to decorate a mantle or tabletop

    23) Plant spring bulbs

    24) Trace a tree pattern by placing a piece of paper on the trunk and rubbing a colored pencil over it

    25) Build a leaf fort

    26) Play a game of two-hand touch football

    27) Make a pinecone bird feeder

    28) Get spooked in a haunted house

    29) Celebrate Oktoberfest

    30) Jump in puddles

    31) Go Bird Watching

    32) Find constellations in the night sky

    33) Play With Sidewalk Chalk

    34) Set Up an Obstacle Course

    35) Visit a park

    36) Plant a fall garden

    37) Go on a bug hunt

    38) Go geocaching

    39) Have a fall picnic

    40) Drink Hot Coco outside

    41) Read a book about the outdoors

    42) Bring the outside in with indoor plants

    43) Go to a Fall Fair

    44)Tell spooky stories by a bonfire

    45) Have a backyard sack race

    46) Go on a night walk by the light of the moon

    47) Carve a pumpkin

    48) Try different varieties of apples to find your favorite

    49) Paint with mud

    50) Climb a tree

    Written for Project Nature by Rebecca Mongrain

  • Happening This Weekend- Go Outside Today and Everyday

    September 21, 2018

    This weekend marks the official beginning of Fall.  Visit the Project Nature Activities page to discover events happening this weekend in and around the Greater Seattle area. Keep reading below to learn more about events happening outside this weekend. Go outside today and everyday! Happy Fall!

    Cast Off – Sunday Public Sail

    Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 at 1010 Valley St, Seattle, WA 98109

    Take the fam to The Center for Wooden Boats to sail around Lake Union in classic wooden boat! Before or after your sail take a walk on the docks and discover the unique boats, watch the volunteer crews rigging the boats, get your questions answered, and if you’re lucky–help with the rigging!

    Boats sail rain or shine, but wind conditions may keep the boats at the dock. Reservations are taken day-of-sail only at the CWB front desk. This is a popular activity, so please arrive early to reserve a spot.

    Note: The Center for Wooden Boats opens at 10 a.m. Rides take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

    Sunday Public Sail

    Salmon SEEson in Issaquah

    Saturday, September 15 – Sunday, November 11 at 125 W Sunset Way, Issaquah, WA 98027

    Fall is here, and the salmon are returning to streams and rivers around Puget Sound. Watch for these natural beauties at viewing sites listed here – and cheer them on if you see them!

    Daily viewing will take place from the bridge or through viewing windows. Trained docents from Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH) will lead drop-in guided tours on weekends from Sep. 15-Nov. 11, 2018 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

    Other tours are available by appointment by calling 425-392-8025, or schedule online. For more information, contact volunteer@issaquahfish.orgeducation@issaquahfish.org  or execdir@issaquahfish.org.

    The Washington State Sea Turtle Race

    Saturday, September 22 at 5808 Lakemont Blvd SE, Bellevue, WA 98006

    Did you know that leatherback sea turtles forage for jellyfish just off the cost of Washington state? Join a Bellevue park ranger at the Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center to learn about their biology and play a fun sea turtle migration game outside.  This is an indoor/outdoor program.


    Saturday, September 22 at 7201 East Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115

    Celebrate the autumnal equinox at Green Lake with the Fremont Art Council’s Luminata event. The celebration of light begins with a ceremony at the Aqua Theater where families are invited to bring lanterns, glowing umbrellas and luminous costumes to join in. Take in the whole part to find art installations, live music, performances and a secret banquet.

    The Fremont Solstice Parade floats are stowed away, and the summer days have begun to shorten. It’s time for Luminata! The Fremont Arts Council celebrates the autumnal equinox on September 22nd at Green Lake Park to bid farewell to summer and move gently into autumn with our annual illuminated celebration.

    Full participation is open to the public! Many traditions around the world recognize the last days of the productive summer are about to shift into the dark and introspective time of winter. Lanterns are a beautiful symbol of our spirit as a community that will sustain us through the cold months.

    We begin our celebration with a ceremony at the Aqua Theater at the south shores of Green Lake. Everyone is invited to bring lanterns, glowing umbrellas, luminous costumes, or other beaming creations to parade around the lake. Hand-decorated lanterns created at workshops by your friends and neighbors will be available for sale at the Luminata Lantern Shoppe to complement your ensemble and keep you glowing through the long nights to come. Throughout the park you will encounter magical art installations, music, performances, and a secret banquet!

    Free Entrance Day at National Parks

    Saturday, September 22 at 39000 State Route 706 E, Ashford, WA 98304

    The National Park Service is over 100 years old! Celebrate the start of our second century by visiting a park in 2018. During several days of the year, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone.

    Mark your calendars and get out and explore with your kiddos. Find a park here. If you are in the Greater Seattle area, consider visiting Mt. Rainer National Park

    2018 Dates:
    January 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    April 21: First day of National Park Week
    September 22: National Public Lands Day
    November 11: Veterans Day

    Washington State Park Free Days- National Public Lands Day!

    Saturday, September 22 at 2000 N.W. Sammamish Road, Issaquah, WA 98027

    Visit a Washington State Park for free! On the days below, visit any Washington state park by vehicle for the day without a Discover Pass. If you are in the Greater Seattle area, consider checking out:

    St. Edwards State Park,

    Bridle Trails State Park,

    Lake Sammamish State Park

    Squak Mountain State Park

    Saltwater State Park

    This is the perfect excuse to stretch your legs, plan a picnic, head to the beach and enjoy Washington State’s beautiful parks.

    Jan. 1 — First Day Hikes; New Year’s Day
    Jan. 15 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    March 19 — State Park’s 105th birthday
    April 14  — Spring day
    April 22 — Earth Day
    June 2 — National Trails Day
    June 9 — National Get Outdoors Day
    June 10 — Fishing Day
    Aug. 25 — National Park Service 102nd Birthday
    Sept. 22 — National Public Lands Day
    Nov. 11 — Veterans Day
    Nov. 23 — Autumn day


    Sammamish Valley Harvest Celebration

    Friday, September 21 – Sunday, September 23 at 13701 NE 171st St, Woodinville, WA 98072

    Celebrate fall with a visit to the farms and businesses in the Sammamish Valley between Redmond and Woodinville. Local food, artists, demos, kid activities and farm exploration. All ages are welcome and the event is free. Each location has its own schedule of events during the Celebration weekend; days ad hours vary at each. Visit sammamishvalley.org for details. Participants include 21 Acres, Molbaks, Off the Branch Farm, Tonnemaker Family Farm, VIva Farms/SAgE, Sammamish Valley Grange, Woodinville Arts Alliance and the Crop Walk for Hunger. Dress for the outdoors with farm friendly footwear.

    The  Sammamish Valley Alliance (SVA) table will be located along the River Trail on Saturday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Walk, skate, or bike the trail to join us; the farm gate will be open or use the farm road access at 16215 140th Pl. NE in Woodinville (Classic Nursery entrance.)

    PARK(ing) Day

    Friday, September 21 at 1932 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

    PARK(ing) Day happens once a year in September and is an opportunity for Seattleites to rethink how streets can be used. Seattle has participated in this international event since 2007 and has given people the opportunity to temporarily turn on-street parking spots into public spaces. The program is intended to encourage creative placemaking, particularly in places where access to parks is limited, as well as raise awareness about the importance of walkable, livable, and healthy communities.

    PARK(ing) Day is also a great opportunity to celebrate the parklets and streateries that have opened in Seattle. Parklets and streateries are an outgrowth of PARK(ing) Day and provide a way for businesses and community groups to convert on-street parking into open space on a longer-term basis.

    View the website for this year’s parklets and streateries in Seattle, including Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, U-District, Lake City and Rainier Beach.

    The Good Garter Snake

    Friday, September 21 at 15416 SE 16th Street, Bellevue, WA 98007

    Garter Snakes are the only native snake in Bellevue. Nearly harmless, they slither through the wetlands hunting insects, frogs, and other small creatures. Join us at the Lake Hills Greenbelt Ranger Station as we learn about this awesome snake, who was recently named the master naturalist species of the year!  Ages 3-8, FREE.  Please preregister by calling us at 425-452-7225.


  • The Time is Now for Project Nature

    September 18, 2018

    Welcome to Project Nature

    As a pediatrician, I am passionate about the health benefits of a childhood spent in nature. These benefits are many—increased curiosity, attention, school performance, and pro-social behaviors as well as lower risk to develop obesity, ADD/HD, anxiety and depression. Children who are connected to nature are more willing to protect nature and wildlife as adults.

    There can be many barriers for parents and caregivers to give children the gift of time in nature. They may also lack understanding of these benefits and may not know where to start.

    Dr Glassy hiking in the Olympic Rain Forest near Lake Quinault

    The time is now for Project Nature

    My colleagues and I from BestStart Washington founded the Project Nature initiative to help break down these barriers. Project Nature is a multifaceted program and resource to introduce very young children and their families to tools for nature play and information at a very young age—right in the doctor’s office. These resources will reach beyond a “nature prescription” by creating a bridge to nature and nature activities.

    This initial intervention by pediatricians is supported by our website, which provides outdoor places and activities finders to help connect children and families to Washington parks, attractions, experiences and organizations. We are also creating social media campaigns to share the evidence-based information we’ve developed along with the places and activities that can help bring children to nature and keep them coming back.

    We hope you’ll visit our Project Nature website often and will follow us on social media. You’ll find a community of parents and health care providers who want to help provide pathways for you and your children to get outdoors to play and learn.

    Thank you and happy outdoor adventuring!

    Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Glassy is a co-founder and Board member of BestStart Washington. A primary care physician at Mercer Island Pediatrics since 1989, she earned her MD from the University of Washington and completed her pediatric residency at Seattle Children’s. Dr. Glassy is a clinical professor in pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, past president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and chair of the American Academy’s Section on Early Education and Child Care. She served for two years on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start Research and Evaluation Committee. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report named her as a Top Doctor. Dr. Glassy also has earned the Susan Aronson Early Education and Child Care Advocacy Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read Dr. Glassy’s CV.