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Outdoor Science Activities for Kids

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Spring is an amazing season, don’t you agree? I love to get out and see all of the changes that are occurring in nature. This naturally lends itself to science activities, fresh air, and activity (gotta get those kiddos moving).  With just a few materials you can use the great outdoors to investigate science topics. Great outdoors + kids + science= Success! Know that’s what I call a great formula.

Plants- Tulips are starting to bloom and will do so over the next several weeks. This flower has large parts inside of it and is one of the best plants to dissect for the reason. It is a perfect flower because it has both male and female parts. (I just learned that!) And, in case you need a reminder of where the parts are located and what are their names, here is a quick reference drawing courtesy of http://www.wikimedia.com

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Here are some ideas for teaching. I have listed in parentheses other subject areas that are included besides science that are being studied as well.

  • Have your budding 🙂 botanist draw the parts of the flower. (art)
  • Label the parts of their flower. (language arts)
  • Point to the various parts and describe them. (language arts)
  • Color a picture and/or label the parts of a flower  Superstarworksheets (art)
  • Have your student teach you or other siblings about the flower. (language arts)
  • If you don’t have a flower to study, DK Books has a close-up of a flower and simple explanations of the parts of a plant. Flower Parts for Kids
  • If you have an older student you can go into greater detail by looking at this site: Biology for Kids: Flowering Plants 

 

Nature Picture Show Take your phone with you on a walk and let your child take pictures of signs of spring. When you get home you can:

  • Identify the plants and animals you saw. (language arts)
  • Create a photo collage. (art, technology)
  • Send pictures with a short narration to grandparents. (language arts)
  • Create a PowerPoint with captions. (technology, language arts)

 

Shadows The other day I saw my neighbor sitting on her driveway with some plastic dinosaurs and I just had to ask her what she was doing (keeping 6′ away from her of course!). She was waiting for the sun to cast shadows on some paper that she had so she could trace them. What a lot of fun! You can do this with anything, including your own shadow and your son/ daughter’s shadow.  Other things you can do with shadows:

  • Measure each shadow. You can come out at different times of the day and see whether your shadow was longer or shorter than before. (math)
  • Graph the measurement of the shadows. (math)
  • Watch a video about shadows. If you have an older student they can take notes about the video. (language arts)  Dr. Binocs
  • If you are looking for some good books to read about shadows (both nonfiction and fiction), you can check out this website: Faith and Good Works
  • Create a shadow puppet play. (art, language arts)
  • Not sunny today? No problem! Make a puppet theater. Here are two options to get your creative juices flowing:

 

Blowing Bubbles is always a lot of fun, but did you ever think about making this into a science activity?  Ask the question: If you have different shaped wands (made out of pipe cleaners or wire), will the bubbles come out in those shapes or will they be round? Create a hypothesis and go have some fun by checking to see if it is correct.

  • Bubble formula-  I found a formula without glycerin on kidsactivities.com since you can’t run to the store to get any right now. The amazing thing about this formula is that if you wear gloves the bubbles they won’t pop. The sugar makes them very strong and you can catch them and bounce them without breaking.

 Bubble Recipe

    • 4 Tbsp water
    • 1 Tbsp concentrated dish soap
    • 2 Tbsp Imperial Sugar Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
    • Add the water to a small bowl and pour in the dish soap.
    • Add the sugar and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved.

Have a great week!  ~ Lisa ~

 

 

 

 

 

5 Fun Science Websites for Kids

Science can be more interesting with websites. Children can explore while learning about various science topics.

  1. Switcheroozoo has quite a few things for your budding scientist to explore. Switch Zoo is an interactive activity where new animals can be created.  Other things to do are: Build a Biome, Please DO Feed the Animals, Sound Match, and Where Do I Live? (geography is incorporated too!)Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 5.04.01 PM
  2. ThoughtCo has activities that will be sure to have your child wanting to try RIGHT NOW! Slime, rock candy, Flubber, crystals, and candy chromatography are a few of the 20 chemistry activities that are found here.  Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 5.11.56 PM
  3. Teachers Try Science has STEM projects to make. There are so many projects to that you can be busy for most of your academic year trying these experiments! Got Gas? Rocket Pinwheels, DNA Detective, and Mysterious Melodies are just a few to try. There are also lessons for teachers.
  4. Science Bob not only has fun experiments to do, but also have science fair ideas. with pdf files for you to download to help your scientist. Speaking of science fairs, what about doing a science night next spring and inviting friends and family over to enjoy what your son/ daughter has learned this year? Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 5.35.59 PM
  5. STEAM Powered Family has numerous activities that include: Making your own Bath Bombs, Erupting Black Holes,  the Periodic Table of Elements Bingo, and Making A Water Clock and Water Projects.Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 5.43.50 PM

Nature Study in Home Education

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I have asked Pam Knudson if she would share with us about Outdoor Education. There is information at the bottom of the page about her classes should you wish to take one.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Spending time in nature strengthens mental health, improves focus and concentration, supports creativity and cognitive functioning and is a great way to get some exercise—but you knew that already.  You may already value nature study but what you may not know is how to squeeze another subject and the related planning into your homeschool week.

But what if prioritizing nature study could help support your whole homeschool year in a powerful way? Here are a few easy ways to make outdoor education a simple, refreshing, purposeful addition to your home education and you can start this spring!

Do it Together

  • Don’t just send them out to play; go with them!
  • Tell them it’s okay to get wet, dirty, and messy and that goes for you too!
  • Plan to do things together outside. Build a fort out of large sticks, plant a garden, play a game.

Be Present

  • Teach your kids to listen, look, smell, touch and taste. Model being fully present outside.
  • Be present by getting lost! Lay on your back and watch clouds with your kids.
  • Listen and talk to your child. Often a new environment can make conversations spark.
  • Sometimes just being quiet together outside can help them focus more on nature.

Take A Hike

  • Take a walk or hike with your children. Try a variety of parks or new places. Schedule a hike once a week with your family or as a meet up with friends.
  • You can also go on a programmed park hike. You would be amazed at what you can learn with your kids.
  • Try a unique hike like a color or texture hike or make a list of things you saw or heard.

Bring A Tool

  • Grab your camera or cell phone and take pictures together. Children often can take pictures from a fun or unique perspective.
  • Bring a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe or zoom in with that camera or a magnifying glass. You would be amazed at how different things look close up. It can truly open up a new world for you and your children.
  • Take binoculars along. Looking at birds, small animals or landscapes close up can bring so much to life for you and your children.
  • Grab a field guide or pull one up on your phone. Sometimes having a focus for your time outside can make it really engaging.
  • Book-Grab a great book from the library about any local nature focus. Read it outside and then find it! For example; you could read a book about maple trees then go find maple trees and maybe find a place that does maple sugaring.

Take a Class with Me!

Pamela Knudson ( B.Sc.Ed. & OCVN) Experienced Educator & Certified Naturalist

  • Yea, it is totally a plug for my classes but I promise they are really good and will launch your homeschool nature studies into an exciting, and engaging journey. So let me introduce myself…Hi There, I am Pam.  I am a fellow homeschool parent, and an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist. I taught in the public school system before starting my family and homeschooling my children. I am passionate about nature and education! I teach nature themed classes to children all over the world. You can click on my profile, scroll down and see all the classes I offer.

 

  • Nature Journal BasicsThis is my most popular class.  Nature Journaling is a fantastic way for students observe, and get their thinking on paper. My basics class teaches kids basic tools to help them to better observe and think about nature. It is a class that often has children from all over the world sharing the nature they encounter through their journal. NATURE JOURNAL BASICS 

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  • Nature Journal Club
    • A fun way to connect with other students and embrace nature journaling and make it their own. NATURE JOURNAL CLUB  
  • Art and Nature
  • Nature and art blend beautifully in my short nature art series. Students will learn about an artist and a nature focus of their art. They will learn some nature facts about that focus and make an inspired art project. ART AND NATURE CLASS 
  • Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 11.01.28 AMGreat Deals– If you are new to Outschool I can give you a code to get $20 off of any class. And because you are reading my friend Lisa McAfee’s blog, I can offer you an additional discount! Just let me know when you sign up that you know Lisa and, of course, love her blog!

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Spring Activities for School

I am starting to get the Spring Itch as I see the first signs of the season appearing. My neighbor’s crocuses are blooming and the birds have begun migrating back to their summer homes.  Are you and your children getting itchy too? How about taking advantage of the warmer days to do the following activities. I have written school subjects in parentheses.

Take a nature walk Have your children take a picture on your phone of signs of spring. They can create a photo montage when they return home or draw pictures in a sketchbook. So many subjects can be covered by this simple activity. (Science- researching, labeling plants and animals; Handwriting; Fine Arts, and Physical Education.)

Feed the birds Even if you aren’t interested in feeding the birds throughout the year, a small bag of bird seed will bring the birds and squirrels to your home.  Your budding biologist can see if they can match the male and female species of birds. Cardinals are the easiest to ID since there are obvious differentiations of color. iBird and Merlin are apps that I use to help me identify unfamiliar birds. They are both FREE and are excellent resources. (Science- Your child can draw a picture of their favorite bird to be placed on your refrigerator:), in their room, or in a science notebook. Language Arts- A short report on a specific bird or squirrels can be assigned. Science- Observing and studying wildlife cover this academic area. Fine Arts- sketching, coloring the animals that come to the feeder)

Outdoor Play– As my mom used to say, “Go blow the stink off of you!” Have your children play a game of tag, play Hopscotch, play on the playset, run around the yard, ride bikes, or play jump rope. These activities all help with the physical well-being of your child and will aid them in sleeping. (Physical Education, Health, Safety- bike and playing safely on playsets)

Cloud Watching– Spring has some of the best varieties of clouds. If you have a day where there are puffy, billowy clouds either go outside or watch from a window. What can you learn about clouds? They are a good indication of the weather that is likely to come. You can use a poster like this for reference. (Science- observation, weather)  If you are interested in purchasing, click on the picture.

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You can also go to the Ducksters website to learn about clouds and have your meteorologist take a 10 question quiz after reading the material. (Win! Win! You can print off the quiz and use for documentation for school.)

Here are some nonfiction books for your children to investigate. (All parent approved)

 

If you have yet to be introduced to the Let’s Read and Find Out science series, you are in for a treat! These books are packed with interesting scientific information that is on an elementary level.

Clouds

Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll

What Will the Weather Be?

Down Comes the Rain

Weather Words and What they Mean Gail Gibbons’s books are highly informative and have been a perennial favorite of mine for helping students understand science concepts.

A Drop Around the World is a  book about the water cycle that follows a drop of rain around the world.

 

Ohio’s Great Zoos and Animal Parks

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I am going to be visiting the zoo quite a bit this coming year and, ever the educator, was thinking of all of the opportunities there are when you go with children. I will list the zoos first and then activities you can consider doing while you are there or when you are back home.

Just click the name of the zoo or animal park and it will take you to the link of that particular site.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens– Hurry and plan your trip because zoo admission is half off until this Friday, March 8. The Zoo Babies are a huge hit in the spring (usually begins in April). Fiona the Hippo, another crowd pleaser who was born at the zoo is a now a 1000 pound toddler!

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, set on 22 acres, is not only a place where you can see animals, but you can also take in the Zoombezi Water Park, the Wilds, go to the aquarium and play golf. What a great day of fun!

Toledo Zoo you can see an underwater view of hippos at the Hippoquarium, the only exhibit of its kind in the world. There is an aquarium here at this zoo as well as the Pro Medica Museum of Natural History that will have interactive experiences for visitors.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has the largest collection of primates in the United States. It also has Amur Tigers that are on the endangered species list.  Only 540 of them are known to exist in the wild.

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African Safari Wildlife Park located in Port Clinton, Ohio is a drive-thru park that is open daily. Here you can see guanaco, sika deer, Scottish Highlander cattle, bongo and many other species. If you have little ones or elderly family and friends there is no need to get out of your car to enjoy the interesting and diverse species of animals the park has to offer.

Wagon Trails Animal Park is located in Northeastern Ohio on 60 acres. You get to have a safari experience where you ride in an open-air safari bus to see and feed the animals. It is featured in USA Today as one of the “10 Great Places for a North American Safari.”

The Lagoon Deer Park operates from Memorial Day through the beginning of November. You get to be up close and personal as you stroll through the park, feeding the animals by hand. You can also pet the animals if you like. If you like fishing, bring your poles and bait so you can do enjoy relaxing on the banks of their 4 their shaded lagoons. You can even pitch a tent on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy night fishing.

So, what kinds of educational things can you do at the zoo? I am glad you asked!

Social Studies 

  • Where is the animal from?
  • Locate that country/ region on a map. Color the country and learn about the habitat of the species. (Here is a map of the world.)

Math

  • How far is the country/ region from where you live?
  • How much does the animal weigh at adulthood? How much is that more than you?

Language Arts

  • What does the term endangered species mean? What does extinct mean? Further investigation- Were any of the animals you saw on the Endangered Species list?
  • Have your son/daughter write a science report about their favorite animal they saw at the park.

Art

  • Sketch or draw and color the animals they liked the best.

Science

  • Study the various classifications of the species. Science- study the meaning of the Latin name. (example- hippopotamus- Greek- hippos- horse potamos- river)
  • What kinds of jobs could you get by working at the zoo?
  • What is the Latin name of your favorite animal you saw.?