January 2009



Skills: experimenting; predicting

Materials: paper towels, pan of water

Directions: Give each child a paper towel. Ask them to put it in the pan of water, wring it out, and then hang it out to dry. Check the towels until they dry. Where did the water go?

Adaptations: Place a wet towel in the sun and one in the shade. Which one do you think will dry first? Why?

Spray water on each child’s hand. Have them run around for a few minutes. Where did the water go?

Place a jar of water on the playground. Record the water level every day. How long did it take to evaporate?


Skills: observing; experimenting

Materials: large glass jar, pie pan, hot water, ice cubes

Directions: Fill the jar with very hot water. Place the pie pan on top of the jar and fill with ice cubes. Observe what happens. What made it “rain” in the jar?

Adaptations: Teach children this song to the tune of “My Darling Clementine.”

     The Water Cycle

      Evaporation (Push palms up.)
      Condensation (Hands together in air.)
      Precipitation all around (Wiggle fingers down.)
      Accumulation (Sweep arms in circle.)
      Evaporation (Push palms up.)
      The water cycle goes
      Round and round (Make circles with arms.)


Skills: observing

Materials: sunny day, sidewalk chalk

Directions: Have one child face north at 9:00 in the morning. Mark where the child is standing and trace around their shadow with chalk. Have the child stand in the same spot at 12:00 and 2:00 and draw around their shadow. Why does the shadow change when the person is standing still?

Adaptations: Play shadow tag where children try to step on each other’s shadows.


Skills: observing; communicating

Materials: Explain that your class is going to “adopt” a tree on the playground. Take a walk on the playground and find that special tree. Let the children name their tree. Hug it. How does it feel? How does it smell? Can you hear it? Draw pictures of the tree and let the children dictate or write own stories about the tree. Put them together to make a class book.

Adaptations: Observe the changes in the tree during different seasons. Take photographs of the tree and record in a book.


Skills: observing

Materials: none

Directions: Take your class on a feeling walk. Let them touch various objects in nature and describe how they feel. Ask them to close their eyes and try to identify an object in their hands by using their sense of touch. What things do you like to feel? What things do you not like to feel?

Adaptations: Take a listening walk where children close their eyes and identify the sounds in their environment. Go on a “smelling” walk where children try to identify different smells in nature.


Skills: classifying

Materials: paper bags

Directions: Divide the children into small groups. Give each group a bag and the list below. Let the children hunt until they find all the items. Compare results.


      Something green
      Something alive (but not an animal or bug)
      Something dead (but not an animal or bug)
      Something that smells good
      Something smaller than you
      Something older than you
      Something the size of your thumb
      Something that feels rough
      Something that feels soft
      Something that is beautiful to you
      Something that does not belong there

 Nature Scavenger Hunt

Click for larger image

Adaptations: Do the nature scavenger hunt as a large group activity with younger children. Return the objects to the playground after observing them.

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