Whether parents homeschool or not, children need educational enrichment during summer vacation. Happily, summer break is perfect for educational outdoor science experiments. Here are warm weather nature crafts and hands-on summer science activities to keep learning fresh. These lessons adapt to any age from preschool to high school.
* Summer science activities–life-sized habitat diorama nature crafts. Have students research which biome (earth zone) they live in–woodland, savanna, desert, plains, mountains, lakeside dune or ocean seaside. Then head into the wild to explore and collect natural specimens for outdoor science experiments. You can temporarily house living critters– butterflies or insects–in appropriate bug houses. But never kill living things or remove specimens of items currently used by living things for your science activities. Look for feathers, bark, grass, shed skin, bug exoskeletons, vacated nests, fur tufts, seed pods, cones, leaves, rocks, sand, flowers. Discuss habitat details you observe; note animals, plants, trees, geological formations. Using large recycled cardboard boxes to make life-sized habitat diorama nature crafts. Have children draw what they observed in outdoor science exploration. Then glue summer science specimens to appropriate spots (bark on tree, feather on a bird, etc.). Use recycled materials to add simulated details. Children can create costumes and pretend to be animals in their habitat diorama nature crafts.
* Outdoor science experiments–nature patterns. Teach concepts like natural geometry, sequencing and Fibonacci numbers (here’s an article I wrote on that). Collect rocks, shells, bark, feathers, seeds, leaves, fur, dead insects. Examine patterns. Look at animal body covering patterns in situ (where they are–don’t touch or move). Glue found specimens to paper and encourage children to replicate pattern around the object.
* Summer science activities–bucket garden nature crafts. Plant fruit-bearing seeds–tomatoes, beans, pepper, melons, squash, pumpkins– in recycled clear plastic dishes. Poke holes in the bottom so plants can suck moisture through roots. Explain that plants prefer this to absorbing water through leaves. Observe growth–roots, sprouts, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, then back to seeds in fruit, Have children make plant journals illustrating or writing observations. Transplant as needed. If you plant pumpkins, melons or squash, beware–they need lots of room to spread out.
* Outdoor science activities–nature drama. Assign students to pick a natural phenomenon and write a short play or skit about it. Good subjects include: cycles, wildfires, natural disasters, deforestation, predator-prey, food chain, symbiotic relationships, environment, conservation, endangered species, extinction, pollution, unusual animals, weather. Plays might be allegorical (moral) or fable (fantasy story explaining how it started), Hubpages lists free printable world fables to use as inspiration. Plays might be comedy (animals outsmarting man) or tragedy (pollution, deforestation). Characters might personify elements, animals or plants. Using recycled materials, have children create props, costumes, settings, scenery and act out their plays. It could be told as a puppet show.
Assign kids to work together on summer science activities and science experiments so they get cooperative learning experience.