Indoor and Outdoor at Home Activities for Youth

Screen-free Activities for Kids

Penny Boat: Build a miniature boat and see how many pennies you can place on it before it sinks.
Materials: Pennies, tub of water, building materials (aluminum foil, tape, string, sticks, cardboard, styrofoam, etc..)  
Steps: Gather materials, get creative in boat design, and count how many pennies it takes to sink your boat, 10? 50? 100? More?
Extension Opportunities: Design your boat on paper first, make a prediction of how many pennies it will take to sink your boat, reflect and redesign to improve boat after sinking. 
Rainbow Hike: How many colors can you find in nature. Take a rainbow hike and see if you can find the colors of the rainbow in nature. This activity can also be done inside looking out a window. 
Extension: Grab some paint chips at a local hardware store and match the colors to objects in nature. 
Meet a Tree: Pair up and have a partner describe a local tree (what color/shape are the leaves, texture of the bark, size of the tree, smell, buds, blossoms, fruit). Once the partner has finished with their tree description, its your job to find this tree using the clues from their description. Once you have found the right tree switch roles and repeat. This activity can also be done with the guessers eyes closed. The partner takes the guesser to a tree with their eye closed and they must use their sense of touch and smell to learn about tree. Once finished studying the tree the partner walks the guesser back to where you started and you must now find the tree you met with your eyes open.
Under a Log: Take a walk in the woods and find an old rotting log or larger stick. 
Lift up and turn log over. What creatures do you see? How does the soil and life found under the log differ from the life around the log? 
Observe logs in various areas and compare the differences and similarities. 
Germinating Seeds in a Bag: Observe a seed as it transforms into a plant right before your eyes.
Materials: Ziplock bag, tape, dried beans (any variety will work), and a paper towel
Step 1: Gather materials
Step 2: Dampen paper towel and fold so it fits inside the plastic bag.
Step 3: Place 1-4 dried beans in the plastic bag. Make sure all the beans are touching the paper towel. 
Step 4: Close up Ziplock bag, and tape the bag to the inside of a window that gets plenty of sun.
Step 5: Observe daily for signs of germination(the first sprout, roots, leaves). When you see leaves beginning to emerge, that is when its time to plant.
Faster Option: Pre-soak seeds in a cup of water for 24 hours before starting Step 2.
Extension Opportunities: Start a daily journal documenting the process of germination. 
Start a small garden (plant the germinated seeds in the ground, or in a small pot, or my personal favorite, start a shoe garden and plant the germinated seeds in a soil filled shoe)
Nature Rubbings: Discover all the beautiful textures of nature 
Materials: White paper, crayons, a objects found in nature. 
Step 1: Hold paper still over object you want to make a rubbing of 
Step 2: Using the side of the crayon, gently rub the crayon over the object. This should create a print of the patterns found on the object. 
There are many ways you can do this activity. You can bring crayons and paper out with you on a nature walk and doing the rubbings on the spot. You can gather materials from outside like leaves, twigs, wood, rocks, flowers, etc… and do your rubbings together at home. Too difficult to get outside? Gather fun objects from inside and do the same thing! 
Mud Kitchen: Make your own mud and explore
Dirt, water, sticks, containers 
Find your own mud patch or make your own. This activity allows your child to get creative and explore the consistency and textures of mud.  Build, mix, measure, explore, and imagine. 
Experimental Smoothie: Use ingredients you have at home to create your own smoothie flavor combination. 
Tips: Frozen banana’s make it creamier and more of an milkshake consistency.  A cup of kale or spinach hides well when mixed with the flavorful combination of fruit and juices. 
Fun ingredients that can go in smoothies: frozen fruit, fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, nut butters, yogurt, oats, etc.. 
Extension: Made too much smoothie? Make it into popsicles to enjoy later. 
Sit spot: Find a spot to sit, preferably outside (think: yard, porch, or park, but a window could work as well) and use your senses to notice whats around you.
Use your eyes and ask yourself, “what do you see?” Do you see birds? flies? people walking? ducks swimming?
Close your eyes and use your ears. What do you hear? Leave rustling? water splashing? cars beeping?
Use your nose. What do you smell? Any thing? Maybe a neighbor grilling? the smell of pine trees? maybe you can smell the new spring flowers in bloom? 
Lastly touch. What do you feel? Where are you sitting? What does your seat feel like?
This activity is all about observation and using your senses. Repeat this activity going to the same location if possible daily and noticing whats different? Whats the same?

Online Activities and Resources

Museum Virtual Tour: Check out 12 of the worlds most famous museums from Seoul to London from the comfort of your home. 
National Park Virtual Tour: Take a trip to some of your favorite national parks from anywhere at anytime using the National Parks virtual tour page. While you are on their page check out their awesome Parks from Home activity page where you can watch an adorable video  all about baby animals and become junior ranger from the comfort of your own home by clicking the link here.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Cam: Check out the wonders of the ocean from whereever you are. You can explore any of their 10 live cams from 10am- 10pm Pacific Time, from exploring the gentle sway in the great kelp forest to the lively action in the otter cam, you are guaranteed a great time. 
TIME for Kids: Time for Kids is offering the digital subscription of their kid friendly magazine for the duration of the school year. 
Ranger Rick:Check out this awesome website filled with nature and wildlife inspired videos, games, and activities offered free till June by the National Wildlife Federation. 
Doodles with Mo Willems: If you haven’t checked out Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems yet on The Kennedy Center YouTube channel we highly recommend it. He explains the process of doodling as a space to explore and have fun- its about the process and not the finished product!
MSU Extension: Check out 84 easy science lessons you can do from home with supplies you most likely already have. Children can have fun while they improve their critical thinking systems and learn how to ask their own question and find their own answers. 
Huron-Clinton Metro parks YouTube:   Check out their YouTube Channels for a bunch of interactive and educational videos about Michigan wildlife and nature! 
Huron-Clinton Metro parks Activities: Activities, worksheets, and coloring pages all about Michigan wildlife and science. New activities added weekly! 
Cincinnati Zoo: Check out the Zoo’s website for at home activities that inspire creativity as you learn about the many animals that make up the Cincinnati Zoo. You can also check out their YouTube Channel for Home Safaris where they highlight an animal everyday @ 3:00 est. 

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