Life science, or biology, is an essential school subject. But kids often hate science because it’s taught from boring textbooks in meaningless paper-and-pencil activities. Rediscover the inherent fascination of life science this summer with hands-on experiments and crafts. Teach green, using recycled supplies.
* Seasonal nature journals: You can’t learn much about life science sitting at desks indoors. Take nature hikes. Use binoculars and field guides to identify observed flora and fauna. Sketch pictures of plants and animals in their dwellings and habitats. Note when and where they were discovered. Note animal characteristics: body covering, markings, camouflage, behavior, adaptation, offspring, endothermic-exothermic. Look for evidence of insects at different stages: larva, pupa, chrysalis, metamorphosis. Watch for spiders’ webs. Note plant and tree characteristics: seasonal, poisonous, developmental stage (germination, leaf, flower, fruit, seed). Teach kids to tread lightly and observe closely.
* 3-D KPCOFGS taxonomy charts: On nature walks, collect plant and animal specimens. Wear gloves to prevent injury and infection. Don’t disturb organism to get sample. Look for seed pods and carriers, sticks, disused egg sacs and nests, flowers, fruit, fur, feathers, horns/antlers, shed skin, nests, leaves, algae, mold, shells, fossils, tree bark, mushrooms, plants, dead insects, quills, exoskeletons, bones, moss. Sketch pictures of animals (living or dead), habitats and poisonous plants. Identify plant or animal of origin by kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. Make a four-column chart with kingdoms: protista, fungi, plantae and animalia (monera aren’t visible). Categorize and group specimens graphically by phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. Attach to chart and label. Remember Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae with: Kangaroos Play Cellos, Orangutans Fiddle, Gorillas Sing (thank you, Tiger Homes). Here’s my article on free printable classification lessons.
* Habitat dioramas: Cut off one long side of shoe box. Place box inside of upright lid (to make a backdrop). Color free printable habitat dioramas (from my article) and attach to inside of box lid or draw in background. Collect plant and animal specimens and “place” in their biomes: tuft of squirrel fir in maple tree, acorn in oak tree, blue jay feather in sky. Attach twig to simulate tree. Add rocks, plastic toy animals, soil and sand to fill out diorama. Label,