How to Teach Kids Science in Your Backyard

When you are looking for outdoor learning opportunities you don't actually need to look any further than your own back garden.

There are so many opportunities for nature study and science right outside your door, in fact your backyard is one great big science laboratory!

As well as playing outdoors, there are plenty of educational opportunities in your patch of earth. First of all are all are all the plants to be found out there.

One of the many ways that you can incorporate science into your garden is by studying the plants that can be found in your backyard.

Take notice of the planted environment, whether you grow flowers, fruits trees or bushes, or vegetables.

Then notice the wildflowers that grow there. All children are fascinated by dandelions, so find a selection in different stages of opening from bud to dandelion seed clock ready to be blown away.

Once your child has observed these different stages you can show them the different stages of a strawberry, raspberry or blackberry plant.

You are likely to be able to find the different stages on one or more plants.

Photo by Soul Alchemy on Facebook

Next are all the creatures that can be found out there, which will of course be different dependent on where you are in the world and whether you live in a city, town or the countryside.

Living things will vary from larger mammals such as deer, badgers or even bears to tiny insects and other mini-beasts such as worms, frogs and spiders.

Your garden is also likely full of a number of different insects.

Like plants and flowers, your child may enjoy examining these bugs and getting to know their different characteristics.

It is not only fun to see what bugs live in your backyard, but it is also exciting to learn about how they survive, where they live and what they eat.

There are so many opportunities to observe insect behaviour, take notice of their different homes and habitats, how and what they eat and more.

You will no doubt be surprised by just how many species there are and the variety in them. For instance, did you know there are 25 or more types of ladybirds here in the UK?

In addition to the living things that can be found in your garden, you may also want to examine the weather and temperature, along with the impact it has on the garden and its inhabitants.

Conditions change continually as the weather changes.

By examining your garden after a rainy day, you may find that many of the plants, flowers, and bugs have either changed or retreated to safer ground.

Why do they do this? Examining the effect the weather has on both plants and animals of all shapes and sizes is an amazing learning opportunity.

As is the effect of too much sun. If it has been hot for a long time, what happens?

By asking these kinds of questions you invite your child to make observations, predictions and conclusions.

You can then talk about their findings and extrapolate this to a wider conversation about global warming and the changing climate around our planet.

To make the most out of your child’s next garden adventure, you may want to consider collecting  some science supplies.

A selection of bug catchers, a plain white sheet for shaking branches over to see what falls out, magnifying glasses, and identification guides for children will help you to find more and learn more.

Remind children of the golden rules:
  • You must hurt nothing, be gentle
  • Anything you catch should only be kept for a few minutes
  • Release creatures exactly where you found them

There are many identification guides and non-fiction books about insects, birds, plants, and flowers. 

Many of these resources will provide you with information and pictures that is age appropriate and easy for younger children to read or look through.

When examining the plants, bugs, and flowers in your garden, you and your child may want to document what you see.

This can easily be done with a camera. By taking pictures, your child will always be able to remember their exploration adventures and could use their photos for crafts.

Alternatively, you could start a nature journal where they can draw and write short descriptions of what has been observed.

Nature journaling is a wonderful activity and central to some home education philosophies such as the Charlotte Mason method.

All children love exploring nature and are naturally drawn to observe, investigate and discover what happens outdoors.

Incorporating science into your next garden adventure is fun and easy, a great project for little scientists.

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