Activities to Learn about Nature
This page features links to online resources for parents and teachers. You’ll find kid-friendly activities to promote nature discovery and to better understand the creatures I write about in my blog. Some of the activities are of my own design.
Printables by Tales of a West Michigan Wood
Make your own drums from empty cans and canisters and learn what a woodpecker looks for when choosing a drumming tree.
Online resources for kids and families
Project Learning Tree is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting environmental education, providing ‘curriculum resources that use trees and forests as windows on the world.’ Take a look at Project Learning Tree’s activities for families.
Speaking of trees, Home Advisor has a terrific Backyard Tree Identification Guide. If you ever need to identify a tree by its leaves, its bark, or its fruit, you’ll find tons of resources here. In addition to quite a few identification keys, the page covers basic plant ecology, with lots of links for deeper dives into types of trees, plant life cycles, and more. There are printables and lots of kid-friendly articles… perfect for a day in the park, the forest, the backyard… or for a learning unit! And… a shout-out to eleven-year-old Hailey, a STEM club member who suggested this wonderful resource!
KCedventures is a treasure trove if you happen to be out discovering nature in Kansas City, but the site also has some wonderful resources for kids and families everywhere. Here are some terrific printable summer scavenger hunts.
Mother Natured is another great blog that’s loaded with kid-centered nature discovery activities. I particularly enjoy the post How to Make a Bird’s Nest. Another wonderful post is a math skill-builder about measuring items in nature.
Here’s a terrific resource chock full of online environmental education resources: Environmental Education Virtual Field Trips for Nature Lovers. The site includes links to virtual tours of botanical gardens, national parks, nature museums, and lots more. This time, my shout-out goes to nine-year-old Cassie, who volunteers with an environmental group and who suggested I add the virtual field trips site to my list of nature resources. Thank you, Cassie!
Online resources for the classroom
Author Annette Whipple has tons of downloadable printed activities and learning materials. I’m particularly fond of her Spider Education Guide, with activities suited for both home and the classroom. Along with her wonderful book Scurry! The Truth About Spiders, the downloadable guide is great for helping kids turn squeamish into inquisitive when they see spiders. The spider guide is on this page of Annette’s website. You’ll find lots more if you explore the rest of the site.
Here’s a wonderful classroom activity called Bringing Up Birdy, from PBS Learning Media. Students learn that living things experience diverse lifecycles, using the eagle to model universal avian life stages: from egg to chick to fledgling juvenile to adult.
Sharing Nature is a wonderful resource for nature discovery in the classroom. A fun activity is creating a sound map. Kids sit in silence, actively listening and marking a map to denote what they hear, and where.