How can families engage with Essex County while at home?

Become a Backyard Junior Ranger! We have created a list of ways to get creative while showing "Community Gratitude" and options to simply unwind with some relaxing Essex County themed activities. We will also be gathering family-friendly resources and children's activities from our partners and listing them here. If you decide to post any projects, remember to tag us (@essexheritage) and use the hashtag #heritageathome so we can share your work on Facebook and Instagram!

Essex County Themed Activities

Game on!

Essex County Can't Be Matched! See how fast you can pair up all the landmarks of Essex County

Community Gratitude Projects

Consider what inspires you, brings you joy, makes you grateful for your community? In these times of stress and uncertainty, what aspects of your hometown/ city help you gain strength?

Pick any of these suggestions and send us what you complete:

  • Create a town/city acrostic for your community by listing the things you’re grateful for that begin with the letters that make up your community’s name:


Town Hall: newly renovated, this is a beautiful signature building in our village.

Open Space: From Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary to DCR’s Bradley-Palmer State Park Topsfield is overflowing with amazing public lands and trails to explore.

Prospect St. hill: makes you feel very accomplished after walking it!

Strawberry Festival: this gathering on Topsfield’s common brings the whole community together and helps us celebrate the coming summer months with delicious strawberry shortcake. 

Fair:  The Topsfield Fair has prize-winning  animals, fruits, veggies and flowers; carnival rides; music; enormous amounts of fried food every fall.

Ipswich River: a major source of water for our area, this beautiful river meanders through town and serves as a habitat for many local creatures.

Elementary Schools: the schools are anchors of our community for families in town. Proctor and Steward help to engage the curiosity and inspire the next generation. 

Library:  a beautiful place and appreciate our library’s free in-person and online resources.

Downtown: You’re sure to bump into someone you know in the village downtown area, maybe at the Bakeshop, at the Art Room, or out for a stroll on the common.

Bring out your inner artist:

  • Make a photo collage of your favorite things about your community

  • Convert a favorite photo of your community into an outline drawing and add your own touches

  • Create a painting, drawing or other artistic piece that represents your community

  • Gather pieces of nature from your backyard or on a walk to create a nature collage

While you are (safely) outside in your community:

  • use the free iNaturalist app to investigate/identify/record anything in nature that you encounter. There is a Boston-area group that is recording data in our area. Help add to the data-base.

  • Try a Sit Spot: Stay in one place and be silent. Become aware of what you notice: Sounds, Sights, Smells, Feelings.  Record these and make a poem from what you describe

  • Use an online map of your community to locate favorite places. Before you go out for a walk, use the map to make a plan of where you will go. Navigate where you will go based on the map.

Other ways to foster community gratitude:

  • Using Essex Heritage’s Heritage at Home resources site, look up your town/city’s historical society/ local museum website:
    • Find out three facts about your community’s history that you didn’t know before

    • Let us know what online resources you love

  • Create your own map of your community. Include favorite places, friends’ houses, your school, anything that is meaningful to your family. 
  • Write thank you notes or draw pictures for members of your community who you care about. Don’t forget senior citizens, teachers, healthcare workers, police, fire and other first responders, grocery store workers, post office employees and others who are working to keep us safe. Send your notes/ pictures to spread your gratitude! 
  • Interview everyone in your family, asking them what they love about your city/town. Create a video with their answers.

Coloring Pages

Are you ready to become a Backyard Junior Ranger?
Email your completed entries to: and become a Backyard Junior Ranger!

Additional Family Resources

Contact info:

Send us your projects! 

By mail: Essex Heritage, 10 Federal St., Suite 12, Salem 01970
By email: (subject Backyard Junior Ranger)
Tag us on Facebook and Instagram: @essexheritage, #heritageathome
Essex Heritage