This morning I came across an article that offered at-home science ideas that kids could do outdoors. The idea of course is that even though children can’t formally learn scientific concepts inside schools at the moment, they can still educate themselves in their own backyard.
After reading some of the ideas that supposedly passed as science, I figured I could share some of my own at-home science exploits that I enjoyed as a kid. Take or leave any of these five suggestions.
Starting Fires – My parents purchased two magnifying glasses for my brother and I when we were little. i don’t believe they were trying to promote a science experiment, but we definitely didn’t use them to play “detective.” We were outside all the time burning leaves and ants. I will always remember the thrill of maneuvering the magnifying glass just perfectly to produce a strong beam that would effortlessly burn through leaves and spark small flames. I learned a lot about the sun’s energy and heat in general.
Growing Stuff – Nothing will keep a kid’s attention on a day-to-day basis like watching a plant grow. As a younger version of myself, I took seriously the task of planting a seed in some dirt, watering it, and watching it break through the earth. Want to know something that I grew regularly and that would be perfect to plant right now? Pumpkins! They grow fast and are very practical. Life cycles, water importance, meteorology, and so much more are all scientific lessons learned.
Ice Pops – The article I read today suggested throwing objects in a glass of water (i.e. small toys, play jewelry), freezing it, and then excavating the frozen items. I did this all the time as a kid and loved it. But for the sake of offering something a bit different, I would suggest allowing your young ones to make ice pops. Making homemade popsicles is fun and educational! Just pour Kool-Aid or another sugary drink into a mold, add sticks, and freeze. Kids learn about freezing points and the art of mixing something that tastes good.
Rock Discovery – This sounds a little lame writing about it now, but when I was 8 or 9 I really enjoyed finding cool rocks. My friends and I would go to a couple yards in the neighborhood that had rock landscaping to try to find unique stones. We would look long and hard, psyching ourselves out if we thought we found something that resembled gold or crystal. We would always take a few home with us and trade them with each other later. Nothing like some remedial geology to get the young minds stimulated!
Snowballs in July – The parents of a neighbor friend down the street had a big chest freezer in their garage. During the winter we would form snowballs, place them in Ziploc bags, and store them in the freezer. Once the summer months arrived, we would take them out and sling them at each other. This was an important scientific lesson because…well…I guess it really had nothing to do with science at all.
Don’t let the learning stop just because school is closed. Let your children explore science while being active. But please remember, adhere to social distancing guidelines. Don’t Blink.