I believe the best learning is done away from screens and workbooks so I’ve created a 30 day nature activity calendar for the month of April. You can use the April nature calendar alone or use it along with the activity pack I’ve created. The activity pack includes a fun nature challenge sheet to fill in with stickers that match the activity being completed. This month, I’ve deliberately made the calendar without dates so that you can use it year after year.
If your children are old enough, I encourage keeping track of your findings in a nature journal or on the pages in the activity pack. It would be great to be able to compare your findings in the future to what you find this month. It would also be interesting to see how your child has grown and matured in his observations.
John Muir Laws has this to say about nature journaling:
We live in a world of beauty and wonder. Train your mind to see deeply and with intentional curiosity, and the world will open before you. Keeping a journal of your observations, questions, and reflections will enrich your experiences and develop gratitude, reverence, and the skills of a naturalist.
Above all, keep it fun and make it a time of making memories and connecting with nature.
Thirty Days of Nature Activities
Raise a tadpole. This lovely post takes you on a picture journey and shows you everything you need to know. A sheet is included in the activity pack to record your findings.
What new birds have you noticed? I’m sure most of us have spotted our first robin. What other birds are new now that the weather is warming up?
Force lilac buds inside. Place any flowering branches in water indoors, and they’ll start to bloom ahead of their outdoor neighbors.
Pick a tree to observe over the next few weeks. Spring is a time of rapid changes. This is a great time to pick a tree or flowering shrub and visit it often. (Observation sheet included in activity pack.)
Look for remnants of a squirrel snack. A few weeks ago, we were looking for acorns. Most of the ones we found were empty. See if you can find this evidence of where a squirrel had a snack.
Watch a sunrise. Need I say anymore.
Cottontail rabbits start having their litters in spring. Spring is a great time to learn about bunnies. Here are some books to get you started.
Plant a seed in a clear container and watch the roots develop. You can use either a jar, or a plastic bag and a damp paper towel, or the sprouting greenhouse in the activity pack.
Take a yard of string and a magnifying glass and go exploring. Make a square or circle with your string. What can you find inside it? This is a great activity to repeat with the same spot every few weeks. Help your child get familiar with one small area and learn the changes that take place.
How many shades of green can you find outside? This ones is also a great activity to repeat in each season.
What flowers could you grow to attract butterflies? Research what flowers would grow in the space you have and plant some. Sunflowers and zinnias are both fast growing and are great for children gardeners.
Find insect holes in bark. Take a magnifying glass and go exploring tree bark. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.
How high can you balance a pile of stones? For a greater challenge, can you make an arch? What other balancing feats can you perform? Some public lands prohibit stone stacking, so be aware of this when you try this activity.
Place willow cuttings in water to grow roots. Willows root easily. In fact, water in which willow branches have been soaking is used to encourage other shrubs to grow roots.
Make a barometer: KC Adventures has detailed instructions here: How to Make a Barometer: DIY Science Project. This one is geared more to younger kids: How to Make a Barometer. And this one uses an upside down water bottle in a jar of water: Build Your Own Barometer.
Find earthworms after a rain. Or if you’re ambitious, you could start a worm farm. This post has you making a small worm habitat in a plastic bottle so your child can see the workings of an earthworm. I think they’d be fascinated.
Dissect a flower. You can make this as easy or complicated as you want. Here’s a post on flower dissection to get you started. I’ve included a sheet for this in the activity pack.
Make a Human Sundial: Rythyms of Play shows you how in their post: Human Sundial Shadow Science Experiments.
Plant a tree. “He that plants a tree loves others besides himself.” (Thomas Fuller) You could also consider planting a small shrub if you don’t have room for a tree.
Watch for the first bees in search of nectar.
What do today’s clouds say about the weather? Here’s a good article on Cloud Formation Facts. If your child is curious about clouds and rain, you might want to make a rain cloud in a bottle with them.
Lupines are easy to grow and attract butterflies. Make sure you also take the time to read Miss Rumphius, based on the story of a lady who left a legacy of lupines throughout Maine.
How many things can you find that are yellow? This month I have your child looking for things that are yellow. If you did the calendar last month, it would be fun to repeat some of the colors or do new ones. It’s interesting to see what is different now than a month ago. For example, we had a hard time finding red in March, but I think it will be different as spring and summer progresses. I’ve included a sheet to record your findings on this.
Can you find new growth on pine trees?
Make a fern frond transfer. I hope to get a post up on this. It’s fairly simple. Have your child paint a fern leaf. Place on a piece of paper paint side down. Top with old newspaper and press down. We used a rolling pin. Remove carefully. Voila! A beautiful fern transfer.
Find North with the Sun: True Aim Education has a great post on this: Nature STEAM for Kids: Find North Using the Sun.
- Learn a new constellation.
- Watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower (April 22, 2020, before dawn)
- Observe the moon
I’ve included stickers for the bonus activities in the activity pack if you’d like to use them.
You might notice that I haven’t included the moon seasons this month. If you want a record, you could add the extra moon stickers in the blank places at the bottom of the calendar and write the dates under them. I’m also considering making a separate moon calendar so keep your eyes open for that. If you’re tracking your nature activities, you can use the moon stickers to fill in the nature challenge sheet on days you make observations about the moon. That way, if an activity doesn’t work for you, you can still complete the challenge.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried any of the activites.