Nature Activities for August 2020


Note: While doing these activities, we should be practicing social distancing, staying at least 6 feet from the nearest person. Frequent hand washing for twenty seconds or more is advised. These activities are recommended to be done with your immediate family or household. If you want to include other friends or family members, consider a virtual playdate through Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime, to safely share the learning fun.

Monday August 3 Create Your Own Ribbon Stick for Rhythmic Gymnastics

This week would have been the Summer Olympics, which have been postponed until 2021.  However, we can still create the thrill of an Olympic sport at home- or anywhere we go.  Materials:  1 Wooden Dowel (I used a 3/4 x 12in. wooden dowel),

1 Small square of all-purpose sand paper to sand the dowel,

Acrylic Paint (optional) to paint the dowel giving it extra pizzazz, 1 Small Eye Screw,

1 9mm Split Ring, 1 Swivel Badge Clip (possibly taken from a conference or convention name tag, 1-3 yards of ribbon depending on the size of your rhythmic gymnast, duct Tape for a handle, paintbrush to paint the dowel if you choose to do so.  After you gather all the materials, lightly sand the dowel.  Then paint or decorate the dowel, if you wish to do so.  Attach the eye screw to the top of your dowel.  Then make a duct tape handle by wrapping the tape 3-4 inches above the bottom of the dowel.  and securing it smoothly around the circumference of the dowel on the opposite side of the eye screw. Attach split ring to swivel badge clip by slipping the swivel badge clip ring splitting the split ring open like you would when you place a key on a key ring.  Next, add the eye screw to the split ring. Now, clip the ribbon to the swivel clip, turn on some music, and begin creating rhythmic gymnastics routines.

Tuesday August 4 DIY Tin Can Stilts To make one pair of stilts, gather: 2 28-oz tin cans, hammer, medium or large nail, string or twine, tape, scissors, hole punch, paper, and markers or crayons.   Remove label from cans. Wash in warm soapy water, rinse, and dry. Cut two pieces of paper that are 13.5″ wide x 4.25″ tall. Decorate with crayons or markers!  Punch two holes in each strip of paper, about 3.75″ in from each end and about 0.5″ from the top.  Turn cans over (bottom side up), wrap paper strips around each one (hole-punched side on top), and secure with tape. Using a hammer and nail, punch holes in each can where the holes in the paper are. Do this by tapping the nail in with the hammer and then carefully pulling it out. You should end up with two holes opposite of one another on each can. Grab one end of a roll of twine or string and push it through one of the holes in your can. Pull the string through the inside of the can and push it out through the other hole. Keep pulling string through until the strings on either side of the can reach thigh-height on the operator of the stilts. Tie a knot at the top of the strings, creating a loop.  Stand on the cans and pull up tightly on the string loops as you walk. With a little practice, you’ll be running around with these in no time!

Wednesday August 5 Leaf Rubbings Collect leaves of various shapes and sizes. You can use fresh leaves or dried fallen ones.  Place a leaf with its bottom side facing up.  Put a sheet of printer or other lightweight paper over the leaf.  Rub the side of a crayon or an oil pastel gently on the area over the leaf. As you do this, you’ll see the colored areas start to take the shape of the leaf.  Continue until you’ve rubbed over the entire leaf.  Remove the leaf from under the paper. Make more leaf rubbings using other colors and different leaf shapes. Overlap the leaf rubbings to create a stunning picture!

Thursday August 6 Build Your Own Newspaper Hat Find an old newspaper. Open it up and read a little bit of news. Then fold it back together so that the entire front page is facing you.  Fold the corners of the paper down to the center. Then, fold up the bottom edge. Flip the paper over and fold up the other bottom edge. Then, roll up the bottom a little bit so that it makes a hat.  Decorate the hat and come up with stories and adventures.

Friday August 7 National Lighthouse Day:  Creating Light Patterns with a CD Celebrate National Lighthouse Day with this fun activity that demonstrates some of the coolest properties of light:  reflection and patterns.  Find an area of your house or outdoors to do the activity. You’ll want to be able to access sunlight with your CD and have an area in the shade to reflect the rainbows. (If you don’t have a blank wall, you can use a piece of white poster board.)  Use the shiny side of the CD to reflect the sunlight onto your poster board or blank wall and notice the rainbow. What does it look like? Notice the shape and colors. What happens when you change the angle of the CD?  Now the super fun part! Trace your CD a few times onto paper so you have circles the exact size of your CD and cut them out. Cut out various snowflake shapes using the paper circles.  Tape one of your paper snowflakes over the shiny side of the CD and reflect the sunlight onto your poster board or wall. How do the patterns of light look different than before?  Try out your other paper designs.

Monday August 10 Make a Marshmallow Catapult  All you need to make a marshmallow launcher catapult is: 4 large marshmallows, 7 bamboo skewers, a thin rubber band, a plastic spoon, and masking tape. The first step is to form a triangle using three marshmallows and three skewers.  Next, form a pyramid by using three more marshmallows and one more skewer.  Tape a plastic spook securely to the other end of the skewer. Loop a thin rubber band around the marshmallow nearest the top..  Insert spoon skewer through rubber band into one of the base marshmallows.  Tip:  it is best to wait a day, as marshmallows harden overnight and allow for less gentle, more spontaneous play. Launch your catapult at your intended target:  ready, aim, fire!

Tuesday August 11 Make Water Travel (Without Getting Wet!) Materials: water, food coloring (optional), 2 cups, a long string (be sure to use cotton twine or strings that can absorb water. Polyester strings won’t do, Scotch tape.  Tape one end of the string to the inside bottle of a cup.  Fill the other cup with water (and food coloring if you want) and put the free end of the string in the water (not taped). Lift the cup with water up above the other, but not directly over it. Hold it far enough that the string is taut. Be careful not to pull the string out of either cup.  Slowly pour the water out of the top cup onto the string. Remember to keep it taut at all times. Observe what happens.  Now, soak the entire string in water and try again. You should be able to pour the water straight from the top cup to the bottom cup through the string.

Wednesday August 12 How to Make a Magnifying Glass Materials: a clear plastic bottle, a dry marker pen, a pair of scissors, water.  Draw a circle shape at the neck of a 2 liter plastic soda bottle. It needs to be here so you create a disc shape when you cut it out.  Cut out the circle. Pour a little water into the disc.  Hold it over your book or paper to make the letters bigger. It really works so well!

Thursday August 13 The Leakproof Bag Start by sharpening the pencils. Make sure the tips are sharpened to a point.  Fill a Ziploc bag one-half full with water and then seal the bag closed. Pose this question: “What would happen if I tried to push one of these pencils through the bag of water? Would the water leak out and make a giant mess?”   Make sure the tips of the pencils are sharpened to a point. Be careful not to push the pencils all the way through the holes or your “spear-it” experiment will turn into a big “clean-it-up” activity.  Hold the pencil in one hand and the top of the bag in the other hand. Believe it or not, you can push the pencil right through one side of the bag and halfway out the other side without spilling a drop. Push through a few more pencils. Perhaps some will “criss cross.” When you are finished, hold the bag over the sink or a bucket and remove the pencils.  Dispose the bag and dry the pencils.

Friday August 14 Slinky Sound Effects This #ThrowbackThursday, discover how you can make the laser sounds from the Star Wars movies.  First, grab a single use cup, such as a disposable coffee cup or plastic cold cup.  Next, grab a metal Slinky.  Take the slinky and wrap some of the rings around the bottom of the cup. Next, hold up the cup and slinky so that the slinky doesn’t touch the ground. Now, flick the slinky and listen!  Hold the cup steady and the slinky bounce up and down.

Monday August 17 Paper Football!  Are you ready for some do-it-yourself football? Add some preseason excitement with this DIY craft.   Materials Needed:  Recyclables and other objects from around the home (straws, paper cups, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, cardboard tubes, etc.), Scissors, Tape, Paper, markers, pencils.  Build two goal posts using objects found around the house, making a wide “U” shaped upright.  Attach the uprights perpendicular to a large stick or straw with tape.  Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup and put the stick through the cup.  Find a smooth flat surface to use as the game field.  Attempt to make field goals by flicking these newly created shapes through the goalposts.  Discover which paper shapes travel the furthest and highest!

Tuesday August 18 Make a natural Tic Tac Toe board– Find several (at least seven) of the same materials, such as rocks, plants, or leaves, and use those as pieces for your Tic Tac Toe game. Draw a Tic Tac Toe board using sidewalk chalk, or make one using sticks. Make sure you don’t mix the objects so you get confused!  Now find someone to play with.  The first player to get three pieces in a row is the winner!

Wednesday August 19 Backyard Treasure Map Put three tea bags in a cup with some boiling water and leave it to cool down to create a great natural watercolor paint!  Paint an entire sheet of watercolor paper with the brown tea paint and let it dry overnight.  It will look like antique parchment.  Burn the edges around the paper or dip in a thick coffee mixture to make the edges appear cut and burnt.  Draw an island-shaped outline.  Inside the outline, draw various landmarks (i.e., garden, benches, trees, large toys, pool).  Use the map to guide you to “treasure”, and come up with stories for your own adventures.

Thursday August 20   Go on a Sensory Scavenger Hunt– Go around the yard. What do you see, feel, hear, and touch?  Can you find something squishy? Can you find something that is loud?   Make a list of your favorite, least favorite, and weirdest discoveries. You may also wish to take small samples of different items and make a collage from them when you get back inside.

Friday August 21 Make a Fun, Fluttering Dragonfly Craft

Which colors of dragonflies live in your part of the world? Head outside for some insect observation with children and then come back indoors to make a colorful dragonfly craft. Materials:  dragonfly craft template, colored paper (24 lb.), color of your choice (for your dragonfly body) white paper paper straws (color of your choice), paper hole punch, googly eyes (We received these self-adhesive ones from Oriental Trading and love them!)  First, Download and print out the dragonfly craft templates. You can either print out the template and use it a pattern to trace the pieces on colored paper, or print out the dragonfly wings and body on different colors of paper. Cut out each of the pieces of the template.  Next, fold the dragonfly body template has dashed lines to help as a guide for folding it with an accordion fold. Start at the bottom of the body in the square with the circle in the middle of it. Fold it backward along the dashed line. Then fold the body up and down again along the dashed lines in an accordion fold until you reach the final dashed line. Use a hole punch to punch a hole on the circle of the dragonfly body while it is accordion folded.  Feed the dragonfly body into your paper straw through all the holes of the accordion fold. The top of the body will hang off the straw quite a bit. Add glue on the underside and end of the long piece of paper hanging off the straw. Then curl it around into a circle and secure the end on the first accordion fold on the front of the dragonfly body to make the dragonfly head. See the pictures above as a guide.  Turn your dragonfly body face down. Flatten the first accordion fold on the body and add glue to the middle of it. Glue the dragonfly body down in the center of the wings.  Add a googly eye on each side of the face of your dragonfly craft.  Now it’s time for play:  hold the bottom of the paper straw and have fun flying and fluttering your dragonflies around!

Monday August 24  Create a Simple Shape Puzzle Spatial awareness refers to a person’s recognition of how he or she, or an object, interacts with a space. It’s being able to fit items into an environment. Playing with puzzles helps build spatial awareness skills. Supplies:  Roll of paper, Marker, nature- use one type of nature or a mixture of sticks, stones, moss, seashells, etc. Make a shape outline by drawing or tracing a shape, such as a heart.  Put your pieces of nature around the heart. Work together to fill in the shape.  Use words such as   flip, move, turn, rotate, under, below, above and in between as you describe where the pieces go. When you are finished, just take the stones off the heart and try again! I love this activity because no two puzzles will ever turn out the same.

Tuesday August 25 Sunflower Seed Sweep Sunflowers have been growing very tall throughout the summer.  Perhaps you have seen a few.  Here’s a way to create art, develop dexterity, and have fun while taking a closer look at sunflowers.  Materials: Sunflower Seeds,(or black beans), Box lid, Markers, Paintbrushes. First, find a cardboard box lid and draw a sunflower outline on the inside part of the lid. This can be as basic or detailed at you want it to be.  Next, Spread your sunflower seeds (or dried black beans) around your sunflower. If using salted seeds, rinse the salt off of the sunflower seeds and let them dry first to avoid a salty/powdery residue on the box.  Use a paint brush to sweep the seeds into the sunflower’s head.   (While this may be a lot of fun, it is also a good way to work on pencil grip and strengthen those fine motor muscles.  It helps children make the connection that sunflower seeds grow in the head of the sunflower and will also help them identify the seeds in the future!)  Next activity:  use tweezers to remove sunflower seeds from the head of the flower.  After trying both activities, try turning this into a more permanent piece of art by gluing the seeds in place using fingers or tweezers to place the seeds.  When dry, display  the artwork on a wall- or a fence.

Wednesday August 26 Clothespin Sharks  This fun clothespin shark is silly and cute, and not too scary. Have fun pretending to chase the little fish and catch him in their shark’s mouth! Materials:  Wooden clothespin, Light blue (or gray), white and orange card stock, Toothpick, Googly eye, Shark pattern Tools: scissors, glue stick, hot glue gun (with proper assistance and guidance/supervision), gray marker  Use the shark pattern to cut the top half and the bottom fin from blue paper, and the bottom half of the shark from white paper.  Cut the fish from orange paper. Cut the toothpick to about 1-inch in length. Hot glue the toothpick to the back of the orange fish. Use glue stick to attach the blue fin to the white body. Hot glue the bottom of the toothpick to the back of the white body, about half an inch from the end of the mouth.  Glue the shark body pieces to the clothespin, starting at the spring leaving the handle end exposed. Use a gray marker to draw on the gills. Glue on the googly eye. You will need to bend the white part of the shark a little so that when you open and close the mouth, the small fish doesn’t hit the top of the shark.

Thursday August 27 How to Make a Flower Chain Crown Collect flowers with long stems (Daises and Dandelions work very well). Place two flowers side by side.  Loop the stem of the second flower underneath the first flower’s stem.  Bring the stem of the second flower around the front of the first flower’s head.  If desired, weave other flowers through the dandelions to create a larger and more regal crown.

Friday August 28 Tin Foil River Race This outdoor activity will keep you cool. Pull out about 8 feet or more of a roll of tin foil. Bend up the edges.  Take a cap from a bottle.  Put a little bit of play dough in the middle.  Stick a toothpick with a small square of paper for a sail.  Take your hose and spray a light stream of water down the foil “river”. Place boats on it and race to see who will win the race!

Monday August 31 Make a Nature-Inspired Twig Pencil Holder  Make a natural, functional pencil holder for a family desk/remote learning workspace and/or make a great gift for an educator or someone who works in an office.   Materials:  Skinny twigs from the yard, Three toilet paper tubes, Craft glue (Tacky white glue works great), Scissors, Cardboard, 5×5 inch piece, Yard clippers  (to be used by adult or with supervision).  Gather skinny twigs from your yard or other wooded space (with permission). Cut toilet paper tubes to three different lengths. Glue tubes together, so that all bottoms of tubes are level.  Let dry thoroughly. Cut a thin strip of cardboard or a straw (which we used) to the height of each tube.  This will be your guide to the lengths of twigs you need.  Cut twigs to length of your guide, plus some that are a little longer.  (Cutting should be done by supervising adult or older child with supervision)  This will give you a more random, rustic look.  Keep sizes separated for each tube … this will make it easier once you start gluing.  Wipe off twigs with a damp cloth to remove any dirt. Starting with the shortest tube, apply glue quite sparingly to a section.  Press twigs into place and continue around tube.  Let dry for a bit before starting next tube. Do the next two tubes in the same manner. For the tops of the “inner parts of tubes”, cut short lengths of twigs to glue and finish off.  Let dry.  The last step is to cut the bottom of your holder.  Set the twig holder on top of the 5×5 piece of cardboard.  Trace around the entire piece.  Cut bottom to a little smaller size than your outline.  Glue to bottom of holder.