A few months ago, we talked about some indoor science experiments to enjoy during the cold weather of winter. Now that the temperature is rising over most of the country, it’s time to think about some fun outdoor science activities that you can perform with your children on weekends or during spring break. Kids are naturally drawn to all things in nature, so any time spent outside will be educational, but adding a few fun activities can make them even more so. Here are a few to try:
- Exploring soil. Kids love to dig in the dirt. It might not be exactly what we’d choose for them to do while playing outside, but let’s face it: Little ones are dirt magnets. You can put that curiosity and lack of squeamishness to good use, though. Have your kids dig around a bit, and put some dark soil (not the sandy stuff on top) into a disposable foil pan. Bring the pan of dirt into a porch or set it up on a deck if possible. Otherwise, choose a sunny window. Water the dirt, and keep it moist over the course of a week. Watch carefully and see if anything happens! If you’re doing this indoors, keep a close eye out for creepy crawlies that may hatch or already be in the dirt. If you’re able to do it outdoors, simply observe and make note of anything that you find. Your child might be thrilled to see worms, ants, sprouting plants or growing blades of grass!
- Exploring weather. While this can be done any time of year, spring is ideal because the weather is changing in many places. You’ll need an outdoor thermometer to record each day’s temperature (measure it at the same time each day). Also, set up a container to measure any rain or snow that falls. If you have a weather vane, that’s a great addition, too. Help your child record the weather each day over the course of a month. How much precipitation falls? Does the temperature go up gradually as the month passes? From which direction is the wind blowing? (If you don’t have a weather vane, try having her blow bubbles and notice which way they go.)
- Exploring the night sky. Kids are naturally fascinated by outer space, and the spring is a great time to go out and explore it a bit from the comfort of your own yard. Take books out of the library about the different constellations, and see if you can find them. The first constellation my kids learned was Orion (you can see the three stars that make up his belt, along with the four stars making up his shoulders and feet), and from there they learned to find the big dipper. Use binoculars to see the moon and stars better, or if you can use a telescope, that’s even better!
The outdoors are fascinating, and spring is a great time to spend time in it! Whether you’re going for a hike in the woods, exploring creatures in a tide pool or a pond, or simply hanging out in your own backyard, you’re sure to find lots of interesting things to think and talk about.
What are some of your favorite outdoor science activities?