Whether you’re a year-round homeschooling family like us, follow a traditional school year calendar at home, lean a bit unschooly, or have kids who go to brick and mortar schools, summer days and nights can seem long and lazy.
This summer you can join in for 12 weeks of themed camp-at-home activities and fill your kiddos’ fun and learning buckets at the same time. I teamed up with a bunch of my favorite education and activity creators to bring you a full summer camp you can set up at home. You can find links to all the other themed weeks and follow some amazing writers and join our Facebook group so you don’t miss a thing.
Since I’m all about Backyard Activities that are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever! these days, I’m bringing you a week of backyard nature science fun to entice your little backyard biologists. The best part — none of these activities are in my new book, so if you have it (and if you don’t, why not? you’ll love it!) you won’t be repeating activities. This nature science summer camp week can go on all summer long if you couple these activities and the book. (It’s on sale on Amazon right now!)
Planning Your Backyard Nature Science Fun
You don’t really need fancy supplies to set your kiddos up to be amazing backyard scientists. In fact, I’ll bet you have most of the things you need around the house. Just in case, though, I’ve linked to some of the things we stock regularly and that will be awesome to have this week. You can also find some of my favorite books and games for nature lovers on my site.
Keeping a Nature JournalNature Walk Journal100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!Sibley Backyard Birding FlashcardsBackyard Safari NetMagnifier & TweezersCritter CaseCritter ShackPlastic Fish/Bug BoxMagnifier Box Bug Viewer
Let’s get started!
Monday Backyard Nature Science Fun | Explore the Nature Around You
Sometimes we take for granted the things that are right in our own back yard. Today’s the day to get up close and personal with the nature already right there. Wherever you live, there are all sorts of cool thing to discover in your own yard!
Once you and the kids have collected all of the things in the journal — and gathered some more cool finds as well — in your fun collection bags, visit this post to try making this cool DIY Nature Wreath to decorate your front door.
Because of an AcornA Beetle Is ShySquirrels Leap, Squirrels SleepThe Busy TreeMiss RumphiusBrainBox for Kids – Nature Card GameInto the Forest, Nature’s Food Chain GameEeboo Life on Earth Matching GameNature Bingo Board GameHit The Habitat Trail
Tuesday Backyard Nature Science Fun | Explore Soil Science
Have you ever explored the dirt with your kids? It’s super cool. You’ll be amazed at the interesting things you can find when you scoop up a shovel full of soil. In fact, do that before you do anything else today.
Seriously. Scoop up some dirt with your kids, dump it on a cloth, and sift your way through it, taking note of what you find. You’ll be surprised at the bugs, leaves, and other stuff you find. Have your kiddos draw and write about what they find in their scoop of earth. You can extend this by taking dirt samples from around the yard and comparing what they find.
Dirt: The Scoop on Soil (Amazing Science)Soil Basics (Science Builders)Rocks and Soil: Real Size ScienceJump into Science: DirtWe Need Soil! (Science Storybooks)s Garden Tools Set, Rake, Spade, Hoe and Leaf Rake3-Piece Garden Tool SetToysmith Bright and Colorful PailsLarge Sand SieveSoil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Test Kit
Wednesday Backyard Nature Science Fun | Explore Plant Science
Plants are easy to grow and explore with kids. You can start them as seeds and help kids see what can develop with the right conditions and a little patience. Even if you don’t have a large yard, it’s easy to get experimenting with seeds.
Start by having your kiddos dissect a bean seed. This activity is an old standby for a reason. It’s easy to do, and your kids can get a great understanding of what is happening inside a seed as it grows. Follow all the step by step pictures in the original post and help your kids identify the parts of a seed.
Then have your kids plant a garden. They can plant a whimsical one like this fun Rainboot Sprout Garden or get a little more practical like this Salad Garden. No matter what type of garden they decide to grow, make sure you head over and print your free garden journal so they can record their progress.
Once those gardens grow, make sure you pull out a few flowers to do this Color Changing Flowers activity with your kids. It’s one that’s done again and again — with good reason. It’s such a great demonstration of how plants get nutrients and water to all of their parts. You can also harvest some of those garden veggies or pick a few extra up at the supermarket so your kids can Dissect Vegetables and learn about how they are similar and how they are different.
Up in the Garden and Down in the DirtPlant the Tiny SeedMiss Maple’s SeedsThe Curious GardenPlanting a RainbowGardening Tools for KidsToysmith Garden Root ViewerMiracle Gro Kids My Very Own Flower Garden KitKids Veggie Garden Starter KitLittle Tikes Garden Table
Thursday Backyard Nature Science Fun | Explore Creepy Crawlies
When your kiddos looked through the soild on Tuesday, did they find lots of insects and worms? Remind them about the living things they found the other day, and let them know that the more of those creepy-crawlies there are in a soil sample, the healthier it is.
If your kids are into insects, hand the a few bug boxes and turn them loose on the out of doors. Grab some field guides from your local library and help them identify the bugs they find. They can draw and describe them in a journal or just look at them and read about them. Make sure they release the bugs back into the yard when they’re done observing.
For some more creepy-crawly fun, check out the free printable Worm Journal and help your kids Learn About Composting Worms. Those hard working earthworms do an important job in keeping our world healthy. It’s easy to take the decomposers of our world for granted.
Another cool decomposer to learn about is the mealworm — the larvae of the darkling beetle. You and your kids can pick up an inexpensive container of mealworms at the pet store and learn all about them with a printable mealworm journal and acitivties. We love playing with mealworms over here.
MealwormsFrom Mealworm to BeetleEarthwormCompost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the EarthKyle in His Compost Pile: The Story of a Red WigglerInsect Lore Beetle BarnWorm ComposterAnt FactoryLadybug Growing KitButterfly Garden
Friday Backyard Nature Science Fun | Explore Things that Fly
I’ll bet there are lots of birds flying around your house. Have you set up bird feeders? Nesting boxes? Now is the time. Grab some bird identification guides and head outside to see what’s visiting your yard. Try to set out different kinds of food to see what your locl feathered friends prefer.
Then, try this Duck Feather Experiment to teach your kids all about how feathers help birds stay dry and fly. When you’re done with that, let your kids know about a curious type of mammal that flies, too. Read some bat books, talk about how bats and birds are different and similar, and then finish off the week with a game of Sonar Hide and Seek.
Birds, Nests & EggsNational Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North AmericaBats at the BeachNational Geographic Readers: BatsBeaks!Miniature BirdsDuck Wing QuillsKids BinocularsWindow Bird FeederSquirrel Buster Standard
12 Weeks of Summer Camp at Home
It’s been fun helping you plan out your week! Don’t forget to join the Summer Camp at Home Facebook Group for ideas and tips throughout the summer and beyond, and check out all of the other great themes.