Together with partners, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has developed a list of 50 fun, nature-based activities that Rhode Islanders can engage in at home or in their backyards, or local neighborhoods. The activities are for all ages and can be done individually or with family members.  The complete list is available online in both English and Spanish, and includes apps and virtual learning opportunities, reading and educator resources, DIY and home projects, and outdoor activities.

“While places like Arcadia Management Area, Lincoln Woods State Park or Audubon’s Long Pond Woods are beautiful spots to enjoy the outdoors, there are plenty of options close at hand. Since so many families are learning and working at home during this emergency, it is important to remember that all we have to do is step outside to experience nature,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a press release. “Nature is everywhere, even in our urban areas! Many of the activities on DEM’s “50 Activities” list are things that individuals or families can do at home, with no travel required. You might be surprised by what you can experience just outside your door!”

Are you craving a visit with the animals and zookeepers at Roger Williams Park Zoo? No worries – the activities list provides a link to the zoo’s YouTube channel for Zoo School. Same goes for New England Aquarium – kids and adults alike can learn about sea creatures and go behind the scenes at the aquarium through the link on the activity list.  You can also watch peregrine falcons tend to their nest, live from the top of the Superman building through the Providence Peregrine Cam from the Audubon Society of RI, or take an online hunter safety course.

A wide range of reading and teacher resources are available including the Audubon Society of RI’s list of nature books for grades pre-K through 6, and the RI Environmental Education Association’s Educator Resource Directory.  Interesting articles and children’s activities related to wildlife conservation can be found in DEM’s Wild Rhode Island Explorer Magazine.  

The list includes suggestions for DIY and at-home activities. You can learn how to build birdhouses to attract different species, or simply sit on your front step or look out the window and watch the birds right around your home and make a list of the species you see. You don’t have to go far, because birds are everywhere! Beginning and seasoned gardeners can learn about native plants for pollinators and other wildlife from the RI Wild Plant Society. During a break from their schoolwork, kids can make leaf-rubbing artwork, plant an acorn in a sunny window to see how long it takes to sprout a tiny oak seedling, make a bat craft, or create an animal track station in their backyard. 

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And for more options for Rhode Islanders to head outdoors for fresh air, the “50 Activities” list includes suggestions on how residents can explore their local communities and state open spaces, as long as they take the necessary precautions.   While people are encouraged to look for places to recreate close to home, DEM is also working with federal partners, land trusts and environmental organizations across Rhode Island to promote safe public recreation options during the COVID-19 public health crisis.  Rhode Islanders must follow these guidelines for the safe use of parks and open spaces:

  • Do not visit parks, trails or other recreational areas if you feel ill or are exhibiting symptoms of illness.
  • Plan a trip to a nearby park for a short, local visit since restrooms are not available at most outdoor areas.
  • Maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet between persons.
  • Do not gather in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during use of parks or trails. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and equipment. 
  • While on trails, warn other users of your presence and as they pass, and step aside to let others pass.
  • Most areas, including state parks, are carry-in/carry-out for trash. DEM encourages visitors to bring water, snacks and food in reusable containers and a bag to bring your trash home.

“Our current situation is disruptive, uncertain, and challenging, and I am so proud of how DEM has responded and continues to focus on helping Rhode Islanders,” noted DEM Director Coit. “As part of our COVID-19 response, DEM is focused on making sure we continue to promote safe options for outdoor recreation and advocate strongly for our fishermen and farmers by encouraging people to buy local whenever possible.”

DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: