Whether you are stuck close to home due to school closures, or just stumped on what to do with your kids over a vacation you are sure to find something here that will keep you busy! So, raid the recycling bin, check out the craft drawer and start learning and having fun.
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Making, Building and Experimenting Activities
Kids love things that move! You can build a zany Rube Goldberg machine out of recyclables or just about anything else you have in the house. What task will your machine accomplish? Feeding the dog? Cooling you off on a hot day? Squeezing toothpaste out of a tube? The possibilities are endless with this one!
Encourage the kids to be spies and CSI's with this (ink-free) fingerprinting and (heat-free) invisible ink activity! Explore loops, whorls and arches and other unique patterns in your fingerprints and create and distribute some secret messages. You probably have everything you need right in the kitchen!
Have a flashlight, white paper, water, an old cd? Just a few of the things you can use to make a real rainbow indoors! Learn how to make 5 different rainbows from just a few common household items.
Save your toilet paper rolls and try this challenge! How much weight can a toilet paper tube hold? How about an egg?
Science in the kitchen! This outlines a decomposition experiment with apples, but you could substitute any food you've got on hand.
Build a marble roller coaster! This is so much fun for kids and adults alike. You might not have the tubes I've used in this post on hand, but you can use just about any recycled container to create a little roller coaster.
This leaf pigment experiment can be pretty magical, and it can be done with markers if you don't have access to fresh leaves- you'll find the directions for the marker experiment at the bottom of this post.
Do you have flowers outside? Learn how to build a butterfly feeder and see who comes to visit! If you don't have the exact type of jar or sponge at home, experiment to see how you can create a feeder that will deliver a slow feed of nectar!
Love bird watching? Here are some ideas for easy-to-make bird feeders.
Challenge the kids to build a solar oven and make some nachos or s'mores! This is wonderful for open-ended design and engineering.
Investigate reflections with mirrors and drawings. You can also challenge the kids to code some secret messages that only a mirror will help them read!
Did you know that your kids can participate in professional science projects in a hands-on way, or online? Here are some starting points for getting kids involved in citizen science projects.
Do your kids know where the trash goes? Build a landfill model and learn what happens in it over time. Great conversation starter for Earth Day!
ARRRGH! Do your kiddos love pirates? Try these pirate optical illusion activities.
Nature, Wildlife and Outdoor Activities
Go on an indoor animal adaptations scavenger hunt! Free printable included at the end of the post.
Go on a math-themed scavenger hunt for the Golden ratio in the flower garden or the park.
Did you know you can grow a houseplant from kitchen scraps? Try growing a grapefruit plant or an avocado plant!
Learn the parts of a flower through dissection! Ideas included for adapting for all age levels.
Got dirt, mud, sand or snow? Learn some animal tracks and go on a scavenger hunt.
Dream up and design a themed garden! Fun themes for kids are: taco or pizza garden, rainbow garden, and alphabet garden.
Build your own indoor worm composting bin and start composting your food scraps.
Challenge the kids to design and engineer a plant seed from craft materials and see how well it sinks, flies or floats!
Build a creature and learn about animal adaptations with this easy activity.
Did you know bees communicate through dance? Challenge the kids to code directions in a dance just like a bee!
Kids love building? Here are some nature sculpture engineering challenges. Get outside and build!
For bug-loving kids, here are ideas for designing an insect investigation, includes a free printable science journal.
Observe birds at the feeder and keep a tally with this free bird counting printable.
Go on a nature walk and hunt for cool lichen, see what types of fungus you can find, or find an empty bird's nest.
STEAM: Activities that include Art
You'll find several STEAM activities in this post outlining a family STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) event at my school. These are all fun for the whole family.
Grab a container from the recycling bin and build a zoetrope, then have the kids make some simple animation. This is always a hit with older kids. **Depending on the size of your container you may need to adapt the measurements. (We have faith in you!)
Hone the kid's observation skills and practice sketching in this "magnify without a magnifier" art project. All you need is a writing implement, an interesting object to draw and some paper.
Find some fractal patterns outdoors or online and create a beautiful fractal sun catcher. If you don't have tracing paper try substituting with parchment paper or very carefully with tissue paper.
Activities that Make Use of Technology
Kids on the computer? They can be citizen scientists and participate in projects like Penguin Watch!
Wildlife cameras are a great way to experience animals that you might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. Learn more about the Decorah Eagle wildlife cam here.
These are some videos I have used to teach science. They are all entertaining enough to watch for fun (and learn something too!)
Who doesn't like some fun music? Here are some of my favorite kid's science songs.
Did you know you can listen to an astronaut read you a picture book? Check out Story Time from Space.
Kids can learn coding for free through a variety of programs online (and off-screen as well!).
Looking for more science activities with household items?
Here is a list of companies offering free subscriptions during school closings!