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STEAM Summer: Online Camps and DIY Activities for Summer Vacation

School is out! Do you have kids at home this summer? Maybe you will be teaching at a STEAM summer camp. I know that you will be eager for activities that minimize screen time and maximize creative thinking and some ingenuity. Even better if those activities are affordable, planned out and don't need a bunch of crazy materials. Good news, we have got you covered with tons of STEAM activities, online STEAM and science camps, and even a STEAM inspired summer survival freebie

Get ready for a fun and engaging summer of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math!

This post contains affiliate links meaning I receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures for more information.

Online STEAM Camps

I'm over the moon excited to be offering 2 online STEAM and science summer camps on Outschool this summer. They are designed to teach kids fun activities that they can do independently outside of brief, live online sessions. You can see all of my Outschool science and STEAM class listings in addition to coupon codes here.

Nature Art, Science and Engineering

In Nature Art Camp: Art, Science, and Engineering Fun! kids aged 8-12 will will tap into their love of nature and inner artist. In this three-day camp, students will be inspired to engineer and build rock sculptures, experiment to make their own nature watercolors and natural paintbrushes, explore well-known nature artists and create their own nature journals. 

New students can try any course or camp on Outschool, not only mine, for $20 off by using my referral code: MSSARAH2020.

Any student can save $10 on either of my camps with coupon code SARAHCAMP10 until Aug 31, 2024. Get started here and enter the coupon code at checkout.

nature art STEAM camp outschool

Spy Science for Kids!

In Spies and CSI's in Training: Science Camp kids aged 7-11 will discover 2 different kid-safe techniques for making and revealing invisible secret messages, as well as the science behind them. They will learn methods for creating codes and ciphers. Learners will find out all about fingerprints and learn an easy way to take a fingerprint (without ink!) to create their own fingerprint database. 

New students can try any course or camp on Outschool, not only mine, for $20 off by using my referral code: MSSARAH2020

Any student can save $10 on either of my camps with coupon code SARAHCAMP10 until Aug 31, 2024. Get started here and enter the coupon code at checkout.

Fun STEAM Activities for Summer

Summer is the perfect time to engage your kids, campers or students in some Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. These STEM and STEAM activities will get them thinking, engage them for extended periods of time and can be extended beyond the original activity. Bonus, a lot of the materials can be found around the house!

Check out these favorites:

The Ultimate STEAM Summer Survival Guide Freebie

Check out this freebie from Green Kid Crafts: The Ultimate STEAM Summer Survival Guide. There are some super ideas for engaging summer fun in this 11-page guide. 

If you are looking for fun STEAM activities sent right to your mailbox, check out a subscription to Green Kid Crafts this summer. 

The first box of the summer is an awesome dive into electricity: What is electricity? What's a circuit? Ohm’s Law? Kids will find the answers as they build an electric propeller car, learn how motors work, engineer their own fiber optic lights, connect circuits and build their own food powered clock! Use code SUMMER15 at checkout to get 15% off any monthly plan.

DIY STEAM Camp Ideas for Home or Traditional Camp 

If you want to create your own STEAM camp experience at home, or try some new ideas for a camp you are working with this summer, look no further. 

We are big fans of the STEAM Kids books, and love this Camp STEAM digital resource for 5 days of STEAM activities for kids ages 4-10. It's all planned out for you, easy peasy!

These are also great free resources for summer STEM and STEAM activities! 

Check out a great collection of summer STEM activities here. 

Fun ideas for DIY STEM at this link. 

Another plan for STEAM summer camp.

STEM activities from Backyard Summer Camp.

STEM activities for summer camps.

Plant a "Garden Friends" Themed Garden for Kids [Seed Giveaway!]

Gardening with children is rewarding for adults and children alike. It can teach important science principles such as life cycles, botany, wildlife habitats, food webs and ecosystems. It is also full of character-building life lessons like a sense of place and responsibility, sustainability and self-sufficiency. 

Planning and growing a themed garden is a great way to get children excited about their plants. In the past we have explored growing a Pizza or Taco garden, growing an Alphabet garden and growing a Rainbow or Pollinator garden. This time around we are going to give you some inspiration for a "Garden Friends" themed garden, otherwise known as companion planting.

Companion planting kids garden

This post contains affiliate links meaning I make a small commission from purchases made from these links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures for more information.  

We are also excited to be hosting a Renee's Garden seed giveaway. If you aren’t already familiar with Renee’s Garden seeds, I highly recommend exploring their offerings as you plan your garden. I love all of the unique varieties. With unusual heirlooms and plants that thrive in containers and small spaces they offer many good choices for a small home garden or school garden.

You will find details and the giveaway entry form at the bottom of this post.

Garden Friends: What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the concept of growing plants that compliment each other or are helpful to one another together. For example, planting something that grows tall, like peas on a trellis, where they can shade a friend that needs cooler conditions like lettuce from the mid-day sun. 

Plants can be friends because one repels or traps insect pests that are damaging to another. Planting basil around tomato plants can deter tomato pests. Planting flowers like nasturtium act as attractive insect traps. 

Plant friends can be those that do not compete for the same nutrients in the soil. Radishes that grow quickly and grow to shallow depths can be grown with carrots that grow deeper in the soil.  

gardening with kids themed gardens


The Three Sisters

An ancient method of companion planting comes from the Native Americans. Originating in North America around 3,000 years ago, corn, beans and squash were some of the first garden friends. Each plant has features that are beneficial to the others. 

Corn provides support as it grows tall and strong like a trellis. Beans add nitrogen to the soil and can climb the corn stalks. Squash is planted at the base to protect the beans and corn. The large squash leaves help provide shade and hold moisture in the ground. The shading of the squash can help prevent weed growth. Prickly squash stems can deter pests.

The Three Sisters garden is magical as it is like its own self-sustaining ecosystem. You can tell the native story of the Three Sisters to your students or children to inspire the planting of these three crops together. Scroll through this post to read the story and learn how to plant your three sisters garden.

Learn how you can win a pack of Native American Three Sisters Seeds at the end of this post! This big bonus pack of seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds includes Earth Tones Indian Dent Corn, Rattlesnake Bean and Sugar Pie Pumpkin seeds. 

Kids Gardening has Three Sisters lesson plans available when you sign up for their newsletter (which I highly recommend!) You can find the Three Sisters Lesson plan resource here

Pairs of Garden Friends to Plant

Here are some plant pairings that make good garden friends. Some of these are based on science, some based on folklore, but all make beautiful and tasty gardens! 
  • Cucumbers and Nasturtium- Grow cucumbers up a trellis with nasturtium down below to repel and trap pests. Nasturtium flowers are pretty and edible. They taste a bit like a radish.
  • Potatoes and Garlic- Garlic helps to keep away pests! 
  • Broccoli and Oregano- the Oregano serves as an insecticide
  • Carrots and Chives- Chives improve carrot growth and flavor as well as well as deterring pests
  • Lettuce and Radishes- radishes trap insect pests
  • Peas and Alyssum- Alyssum helps to bring in beneficial pollinators
  • Melons or Squash and Dill- Dill flowers attract beneficial insects
  • Tomatoes and Basil- Basil repels some pests, including helping to prevent tomato hornworm.
    The list could go on and on! Check out the Farmers Almanac for an extensive list of good garden friends.

    kids themed garden friends companion planting


    Garden Planning

    Gardening with kids can be such a blast. My friend Christina at Little Sprouts Learning is a master at gardening with children. You can grab her helpful garden planner here as well as some other helpful resources for kids.
    There is more to gardening than just the plants and seeds! Kids love to decorate garden markers and using them helps them to learn their plants. Kids can design their own with these blank bamboo garden markers. These 3-D printed garden markers are so colorful and these bright vegetable shaped markers would be great for a kid's themed garden. 

    You might also want to invest in a sturdy kid-sized set of garden tools like this for digging and exploring throughout the growing season. 

    Win a Native American Three Sisters Garden Seed Pack!

    Enter below to win a Native American Three Sisters Garden Seed Pack from Renee's Garden Seeds. This giveaway starts March 23rd, 2024 and ends at midnight March 29th, 2024. The winner will be announced in our newsletter, listed on this post and notified by e-mail once the giveaway has ended. 
    Must be a United States resident to enter, for further terms and conditions see Rafflecopter box below.
    Renees garden seeds three sisters garden giveaway


    a Rafflecopter giveaway