At-Home Activity Guide

Outside Still Open

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During these unprecedented times, one thing remains: nature. The outdoors are still open and continue to offer a space of much-needed respite and healing. Best of all, the outdoors can also offer plenty of opportunities for learning activities—both inside and out. Though you may not be able to explore our national parks this season, you can still bring the science and wonder of the natural world right into your home. Our insightful and knowledgable educators compiled their favorite lessons and modified them for home just for YOU! These hands-on, interactive lessons will ensure that kids can continue to do what they do best: remain curious and explore the natural world.

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Our favorite

NatureBridge Activities

Not a nature enthusiast yourself? Worried you don't have all the answers? That’s ok! Discovery isn’t about having the answers—it’s about modeling curiosity and the wonder and awe of the natural world. Be a co-explorer with your kids: Doing the activities together can make for new discoveries for you all.

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    iNaturalist: What Lives in Our Neighborhood?: Using your smart phone, get acquainted with the organisms in your neighborhood using this popular and easy-to-use nature app. Budding photographers welcome! 

    Sensory Scavenger Hunt: Taking a walk at your local park? Make it a sensory experience with discovery prompts in this activity.

    Tiny Homes + I notice, I wonder...: Go outside and build tiny "homes" with local materials while strengthening your observation and curiosity skills!

    Shadow Mapping: Is your shadow always the same? What affects how long it is? Do this easy experiment using sidewalk chalk to inspire learnings about the sun and the shadows it makes!

    Natural Objects Memory Game: This short activity will promote exploration and test kids' skills of observation. Can be combined with Sound Mapping, too!

    To Each It's Own (modified BEETLES): What makes an object special? How well can you draw or describe an object. So well that someone else could pick it out of a crowd? This activity challenges your skills of observation and communication! Sourced from John Muir Laws & Emily Lygren.

    Sound Mapping (modified BEETLES): Stop and listen—what's that you hear? What can we learn just by listening to our environment? Make a 'map' of sounds and repeat to connect with the outdoors.

    Pitfall Traps: Learners will use pitfall traps to explore the population of ground-dwelling creatures. These traps are used to sample the surrounding environment for living organisms.

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    We All Live Downstream: Using paper, markers and a spray bottle, create a mini-watershed model to learn more about how water flows.

    iNaturalist: What Lives in Our Neighborhood?: Adult supervision not required for middle school students. Using your smart phone, get acquainted with the organisms in your neighborhood using this popular and easy-to-use nature app. Budding photographers welcome! 

    Shadow Mapping: Is your shadow always the same? What affects how long it is? Do this easy experiment using sidewalk chalk to inspire learnings about the sun and the shadows it makes!

    Animal Adaptation Challenge: Pick a habitat and get creative! Invent a new creature using science and your imagination, and a little competition if you have a few family members around!

    Observing Our World: This in-depth activity will guide observations of the natural world with an introductory game, drawings and inquiry! Curiosity and paper required!

    Natural Objects Memory Game: This short activity will promote exploration and test kids' skills of observation. Can be combined with Sound Mapping, too!

    What is Phenology?: Phenology is the science of the seasons. This introduction can lead to daily observations and recordings about the world around you!

    Map My Neighborhood: Walk a familiar route in your neighborhood but this time, stop to look and record what's there! Lay the foundation for a sense of place in this simple spatial mapping activity. 

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    Garbology: Garbology is the study of what we do with our waste. All the things we throw away each day—where do they end up? Many of us know that we can reuse, recycle and compost to help keep waste out of landfills, but how do you know what goes where? Why is it important to reduce the waste we put in landfills? Learn all this and more with our interactive online game!

    iNaturalist: What Lives in Our Neighborhood?: Adult supervision not required for middle school students. Using your smart phone, get acquainted with the organisms in your neighborhood using this popular and easy-to-use nature app. Budding photographers welcome!

    Scavenger Hunts: Take your family outside for a friendly scavenger hunt of the natural world! This lesson includes various methods for hunting and requires minimal initial setup.

    Cornucopia: In this game by the California Academy of Sciences, students level up the farm with green technology to meet the space and water needs of their crops.

    ColorMePhD: A coloring book of science and engineering research developed by Dr. Julie Rorrer.

    Printable coloring sheets and an outdoor-inspired word search from recreation.gov.

    Virtual National Park Tours: We may not be able to hop in the car to visit our national park but you can still explore our public lands from the comfort of your home with a virtual tour!

     

     

Distance Learning Opportunities

Calling all teachers! NatureBridge invites you and your students to learn and explore in our reimagined virtual classroom. With a NatureBridge educator as your guide, students will participate in interactive lessons that connect them to environmental science, national parks and the natural world in their own community. Learn more.

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National Park Service

Find Your Virtual Park

From our partners at the National Park Service: National parks offer extraordinary experiences, but it’s not always possible to get to a park in person. Fortunately we have ways to connect with national parks from a distance through digital opportunities and activities to do in your own home or neighborhood. There are enough activities to keep you occupied for days! Click here to find some suggestions to engage with parks remotely and check for additional opportunities on park and NPS program websites.

  • At-home Activities: There are plenty of ways to enjoy the parks from the great indoors. From family friendly activities to an immersive audio experience, there are a variety of ways you can bring the wonder of our national parks into your home.  
  • Kids Portal: Explore online activities, virtual tours and more. 
  • Distance Learning: Teachers can take students on a virtual field trip with rangers and volunteers in a park. Browse opportunities for your class.
  • Games & Challenges: Test your knowledge or learn a little more about parks with a series of games and challenges.
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Learn with

National Geographic

Learn at Home provides high-quality materials categorized by age group as well as topic areas. Some of these experiences also encourage students to get offline and safely explore the outside world, such as in their backyard or their own home. There are a range of materials, including those that are tech-focused and those that are low- or no-tech to give educators and families the freedom to teach and explore in multiple ways. 

Explorer Classroom connects young people with scientists, researchers, storytellers and other real-world role models/problem-solvers as they go out in the field, and helps students develop an explorer’s mindset. 

The Real Time Curriculum ProjectA new and unique platform created by National Geographic Education Fellow Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, which consists of a series of “minute projects,” each focused on real-time, relevant current events. The first piece is focused on the coronavirus.

Resource Library contains thousands of items like photographs, lessons, units, videos, articles and much more that can be filtered by keyword, grade level, content type or subject. You can also create a free account so that you can save your searches.

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Our favorite

Museums

The California Academy of Sciences

Explore the Academy's at-home resources or browse activities and resources by grade level below.

The Exploratorium

Make sense of timely topics and find general science support for your virtual classroom or learning together at home with The Exploratorium's Distance Learning Toolbox.

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Explore the Smithsonian's online Learning Lab to:

  • Support deep, meaningful learning with an online universe of authentic resources and tools for making them your own.
  • Teach effectively by creating your own interactive learning experiences—or adopt exemplars made by teachers and Smithsonian experts.
  • Understand history, art, culture and the sciences through inquiry and analysis.
  • Find resources for distance learning.