Living Classroom in Your Own Backyard
March 2020

Hummingbirds are nesting this time of year. This nest was found in the backyard of one of our staff!
Living Classroom plans to reschedule all lessons when schools start again. We will keep you updated as we know more.

Living Classroom Lessons You Can Do in Your Own Backyard

While we all hunker down at home and try to figure out how to continue our children's education during the quarantine, opportunities abound in our own backyards. If you do not have a yard or area with potted plants near your home, there are several public nature spaces that can be accessed to do the lessons which follow. Please visit here for this list of public parks that can be accessed safely using social distancing practices during the shelter in place. 

1. Go on a Nature Hunt -- Challenge your child to use all five senses on your nature hunt: smell the flowers, see how many colors you can find, touch the dirt, listen for the animals, and taste (if it is safe) edible fruits and vegetables. 

2. Get your Hands Dirty -- Dig a hole in the backyard and see what you can find. What living things did you find in the soil? What nonliving things did you find? Talk to your child about what the living things might need in the soil to stay alive.

3. Build a Nest -- Discuss different types of nests that you see that birds build. Collect materials from the yard and build your own nest! 

4. Define Habitat -- Find wildlife in your yard and try to define how that animal is living there. All living things need food, water, shelter, and space for their habitat. Where is your animal getting these components of their habitat? Can you find them? Try to find at least three animals and their habitats. 

5. Dissect a Flower - Pluck a flower from the yard and see if you can identify the different parts inside. Which parts are used for pollination? How do new seeds form? 

Our good friends at Grassroots Ecology have several good ideas for families. Click here to read their thoughts on "Appreciating Nature from Home."
From the Executive Director 

The first day of spring 2020 was March 19, but it certainly did not feel like spring to me! With school closings, social distancing, and self-quarantining (when needed) becoming the new normal, all our lives have been transformed in large and small ways.


Living Classroom staff are not on campus. HOWEVER -  we are keeping busy! Our instructional staff is working on videos of easy and fun garden-based activities. Our garden staff is working remotely designing new gardens in both Mountain View Whisman and Campbell Union School Districts. We are crossing our fingers that the garden support staff will soon be given permission to maintain the edible and native gardens and assure that the plants needed for fall lessons are planted on time. Please visit our website for our new For Parents page with ideas for indoor and outdoor activities. It’s good to remember that nature is generally pretty safe -- and you don’t need to disinfect any plants or trees you get close to!


With the generosity and support of our donors, partner school districts, corporate businesses, public agencies, civic, and private grantors and foundations, Living Classroom is able to pay our staff their normal scheduled hours (as of this newsletter). We are cautiously confident that we will be able to do this until the end of the school year -- with a bit of belt-tightening! 


The Board and staff of Living Classroom send our warmest regards to our teachers and administrators, students, donors, and their families. Please stay safe. We hope to see you all soon!


Margot Harrigan, Executive Director

PS: Living Classroom's Mtn View Whisman School District Garden Team will be donating harvested produce from our school gardens to Community Services Agency (CSA) of Mtn View. The produce would have been used for Farm to Table tastings or classroom lessons in the next few weeks. Many thanks to MVWSD for allowing our team to get back to the gardens - safely, of course!


How You Can Help


Living Classroom gardens always need loving hands to stay in great condition. If you can spare even a few minutes a week, consider helping in the garden as a Garden Volunteer at your local school. Contact us at

If you like working with kids and plants, please consider becoming a Classroom Volunteer or Docent. No teaching experience or garden knowledge needed or expected! Contact Margot Harrigan at if you are interested.

Garden Tours

Come join us for a garden tour!  Our next tour is still scheduled for April 17th at 9:15 a.m. at Landels School in Mountain View.

To join the tour please, email

Support Living Classroom

We welcome your generosity in supporting our work of empowering the next generation of environmental scientists and providing engaging science lessons. Please consider a gift to Living Classroom Thank YOU.

Living Classroom
PO Box 4121
Los Altos CA 94024
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Living Classroom · 183 Hillview Avenue · Los Altos, CA 94022 · USA

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