Easy Outdoor Science Activities for Your Backyard
The backyard natually lends itself to many nature and geology experiments but it's also the perfect place to explore some physics, chemistry, zoology and astronomy too! Remember our house rule -- it's so much better to be in a wide open area if you're planning to have something splash, explode or fly into the air ;)
Other than items you'll find right in your own yard or a few things you'll have on hand in the house, here are a few of the science tools that will transform your yard into one AWESOME science lab! We're including affiliate links so you can learn more about each one:
One of the most used science tools for kids exploring the backyard is a Kid-friendly Magnifying Glass! You can get a close-up look at bugs, rocks, flowers and so much more! These will run less than $5 and you can find them at garage sales too.
The kids will tell you one of our must-have tools is a set of binoculars! And yes, you can find them for less than $10 (woohoo!) Try these Educational Insights Geosafari Compass Binoculars for younger kids or this set of Mini Zoom Binoculars with bag for tweens and teens -- both a great deal!
Another popular items is a set of plastic Test Tubes with Twist-on Caps -- these are great for chemistry experiments, testing dirt (yea, kids like to do that ;), tree seed collectors and more.
Science on a budget can be super easy to do -- there are so many thing from around the house that can be used as 'science tools' -- tweezers, measuring cups that can double for beakers, jars for bug houses and loads of free resources you can find online!
For each of the science experiments & activities on our list, we've included the materials you'll need, a link to the experiment and the approximate time it takes to complete the activity.
Let the BACKYARD SCIENCE begin!
A look at the life of a plant, trees and other items growing in your yard!
How does a Leaf Breathe?
This amazing experiment shows how leaves use oxygen and allows kids to observe part of the photosynthesis process !
Materials: bowl of water, rock, large leaf, sunny spot in the yard
Time Required: Set-up is 5 minutes, then experiment needs to sit for 3 hours or more (can be done while the kids play or are at school)
Name that Tree!
Learn what trees call your backyard home with these free printable tree tags & tree identification printable !
Materials: free tree tags, trees
Time Required: 30 minutes or less (depending on how many varieties of trees you have in the yard)
Look Inside a Flower
See what's inside that beautiful bloom when you dissect a flower and learn about pollination!
Materials: any large-size flower, a small paring knife, magnifying glass
Time Required: 45 minutes - 1 hour
DIY Nature Journal
Learn about plants, trees and wildlife with the 50+ free printables included in your own handmade Nature Journal!
Materials: paper bag, free printables (found in post), tape
Time Required: 1 hour or more
Learn the Parts of a Leaf
Always a fun activity -- create gorgeous leaf rubbings and learn about the parts of a leaf. This also includes an experiment using art materials and items from around the house.
Materials: leaves, crayons/oil pastels, a variety of paper from around the house
Time Required: 30 minutes
These experiments help kids learn about forces and the various laws of science such as gravity, movement, etc.
Launching Water Rockets
Materials: garden hose, recycled items to make rockets (see directions)
Time Required: 1 hour
Does Your Food Float?
Explore density with this sink or float experiment which includes a free science tracking sheet !
Materials: large container of water, any fruit or veggies you have in the fridge, free printable worksheet
Time Required: 30 minutes
Experiments that study animals and their behavior -- and no, tell the kids it's not just zoo animals ;) Zoology covers the study of all animals.
Observing Animal Behavior
Grab your binoculars and head outside to see what wildlife you can spot with this free observation sheet that looks at animal behavior.
Materials: binoculars, animal observation sheet (in post), pencil
Time Required: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Who's Visiting your Backyard?
Search your yard to identify animal tracks and match them to an Animal Tracks chart!
Materials: You'll need some mud, sand or snow in the yard for this one & you may need your magnifying glass
Time Required: 15 - 30 minutes
Become a Real Life Scientist
These are really cool opportunities! Kids (and parents) can help collect data for more than 100 actual science studies that are happening around the world!! Almost all are online and provide you with details on how to collect & submit your findings. Explore this list of 12 Citizen Scientist websites to see which interest your family.
Materials: computer or smart phone
Time Required: varies by experiment
So much fun to mix, bubble and blow things up! And usually messy which is why we do it outside :)
PS. Anytime you're experimenting with chemicals or chemistry, the kids should be wearing a set of Kid-size Science Safety Glasses to keep their eyes safe!
DIY Wizard's Lab
Create things that bubble, fizz and boil over with these fun chemical reactions using items from around the house !
Materials: baking soda, corn starch, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen perioxide and a set of test tubes
Time Required: 30 - 45 minutes
Blow Up a Balloon WITHOUT your Mouth!
This cool experiment uses a few items from around the house to create a chemical reaction that can blow up a balloon or blow out a candle!
Materials: balloon, glass bottle, baking soda, vinegar, candle
Time Required: 15 minutes for each experiment
Learn about rocks, minerals and if you're lucky to find them - fossils!
Finding Rocks & Minerals
Learn how to identify the different types of rocks in your yard & test their hardness . Then organize what you find in a Mini-Nature Collection container!
Materials: rocks, hardness table (found in post), small container, newspaper, recycled piece of mail, penny, nail, this free printable Rock Classification chart from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
Time Required: 30 minutes - 1 hour (this is an activity that can be added to throughout the year)
Study the night sky and explore the moon and stars with these activities.
Creating Marshmallow Constellations
Explore the night sky and then use mini-marshmallows & toothpicks to make your own constellations !
Materials: mini-marshmallows or regular size ones cut into small pieces, toothpicks, constellation app or sky sheet (found in post above)
Time Needed: 30 minutes
Phases of the Moon
Head outside each night to observe the different phases of the moon and create a 3D moon chart to study the various changes and phases.
Materials: clay or playdough, plastic top from recycling bin, dark piece of paper
Time Needed: 2 minutes each night for a month (less than an hour)
Looking for more STEM ideas?
The STEM Toys & Game Store showcases all the latest & greatest in learning toys for kids so be sure to check out the selection!
Join the 28 Days of Hands-on STEM Activities hosted by Left Brain, Craft Brain this month!
Every day, you can find new activities that cover science, technology, engineering and math perfect for kids from preschool thru middle school!
Original article and pictures take http://www.kcedventures.com/blog/backyard-science-lab-and-science-experiments site