As schools throughout California and the rest of the world continue to close, parents are also trying to telecommute for the first time. Many are scrambling to find activities for their kids so they can steal a few moments to check in on work projects and monitor email.

If you’re looking for an educational and fun activity to occupy your kids and give you more time to dive into projects while you’re working from home, send them outdoors to create their own field guide!

Our Environmental Studies editor, Stacy Eisenstark, recently volunteered at a local elementary school to teach kids about how these guides are made and how they can make their own guides. The children then searched their parks and backyard for plants, insects, flowers, and trees. They took photos of what they observed, sketched out the image on a piece of paper, and did research to identify what they were observing. Then they wrote a sentence or two about each element.

At the end of the project, they put the pages together to create a book. It included a title page, dedication page, and even pagination! They used different skills in this project, that touched on science, art, math, and writing.

Check out these field guides for inspiration:

Not in California? Reach out to your local university press or regional independent publishers to find relevant field guides to your area.