One Square Foot - Single

This is a wonderful game that changes every time you play! This can be played in so many ways: competitively, in groups or by yourself.

*While a magnifying glass, corner stakes and string are helpful and fun, they are not necessary equipment. This game is by far best in spring, summer or fall in many areas but in areas without snowy winters, this game can be played year-round.

The Rules

First, have your child pick a square foot area of their outdoor environment that they believe will have the most interesting things to look at. This can be anywhere from a square foot of the backyard or a square foot on the edge of a stream or lake. Each area is going to have different micro-environments and therefor, different things to look at. *Helpful hint: areas with regular access to a water source often have the most life and therefore, the most interesting viewing opportunities.
Next, have your kiddo mark out their perimeter. There are more ways than one to do this, but our favorite is using 4 posts and a string. Start by make corners for your “1 Square Foot” perimeter, you can use pencils, twigs, popsicle sticks or camping stakes. Push 4 of them into the dirt, 1 foot apart in the shape of a square. Now, run a string around the edge to clearly mark the perimeter and tie it. You can also lay down sticks or rocks to outline your perimeter, so long as it’s clear to the player.


(If you have a magnifying glass and/or nature journal, this is an excellent time to use them!)
Get down on the ground and look closely at your square foot of land.

Find EVERYTHING you can and record your finds!!! Choose your time limit (1, 5 or 10 minutes) and once you're done, try again in a new location and this time, try and beat what you found last round!!!

    • How many living things can you find?
    • What is the micro-terrain like?
    • Are there signs of water such as erosion?
    • Can you identify links in a food chain? (An plant that uses soil, an animal that eats the plant, etc?)
    • Can you see any insects or other critters and/or parts of a critter’s life cycle?
    • How many different kinds of living things can you identify?

*Remember, every environment has unique characteristics and moving just a few feet to the left or the right can change the game completely!