Category Archives: Young Explorers

Come Play Outside With Us!

You’ve probably heard the stories if not told them. They always start with … “When I was a kid…” and have some variation of … “I’d play outside all day until the dinner bell rang.” Of course, back then (whenever then was), things were different.

The internet was just a kernel of an idea. Television was limited to a few stations. And the amazing options of after school activities were, well, less than amazing. With fewer options, kids would head outdoors for entertainment–building forts, climbing trees, and playing hide-and-seek to name a few.

Sure, that still happens now, but research shows that children today spend less time outside than any other generation before them. 

Girl playing on tree

Why Nature Play Matters

There are endless benefits to playing in the outdoors. Specifically, nature play:

  • Promotes a healthy, active lifestyle 
  • Develops imagination, creativity, and invention 
  • Allows a space for children to navigate risk and problem solving 
  • Supports inquiry-based learning through curiosity and exploration 
  • Provides opportunities to practice adaptability, flexibility, and resilience.

And of course, when children are in nature, they find connections to the natural world. These connections are critical to creating the next generation of nature heroes. Researcher and educator David Sobel notes: “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.”

© Lisa Roberts

Introducing Nature Play Days 

As a way to encourage everyone, adults and children, to get out and play in nature, Mass Audubon is launching Nature Play Days. Each season, our team of wildly enthusiastic educators will share Nature Play ideas and activities, all of which can be done in your neighborhood, local park, or wildlife sanctuary. 

You can be someone who supports getting children outside, giving them the freedom to explore (safely of course), and ensuring they get all the benefits that come along with it. 

To start you off, here are 10 fall-themed activities.

Throughout the season, we’ll be posting weekly videos and hand-outs describing these activities on our website and social media. Follow along and share your discoveries with us!

Nature Inside Out Graphic

Camp Goes Virtual!

We’re taking the Mass Audubon nature camp experience online!

Join us virtually each week for a unique, engaging, and fun series of week-long nature-education experiences—both inside and out! Each one-week session will include virtual discussion and instruction; daily themed nature quests and activities designed to get you outside and exploring nature in your backyard or neighborhood; a “Wacky Wednesday” dress-up theme; a Thursday evening all-camp program; and more.

We’ll get to know each other through live virtual meetings and explore nature through images, videos, hands-on activities, and explorations at home and in your neighborhood.

What to Expect

Activities will be differentiated for each age group, K–Grade 2 and Grades 3–5. Upon registration, you will receive an email with the schedule for the week and links to our meeting times and videos. Each day, campers will receive a Nature Quest—this might be a game, activity, science experiment, cooking project, or even an art project.

Register Today!

Nature Inside Out Virtual Summer Camp

Session Themes

Click one of the sessions below to learn more and register your child today.

Session 1: Creature Power     

July 20–24, 2020

Each day, we’ll investigate a group of organisms and learn about their “superpowers,” like how pillbugs and worms create dirt, how chipmunks can carry piles of food three times larger than their heads, and how salamanders can breathe through their skin! You’ll create an insect scent trail or go on a plant adaptation scavenger hunt, learn about the types of amphibians that can be found in your neighborhood, and make a craft from a recycled paper tube. At the end of the week, unlock your own superpower to help take care of nature. 

Session 2: Water, Stones, Fossils, Bones

July 27–31, 2020

What gems of knowledge can we discover by studying dirt and soil? Explore rocks and minerals, bones and fossils, and even volcanoes! Uncover your inner geologist and archaeologist as you grow your own crystals, discover the recipe for soil, and make “glacier gloo,” volcanoes that erupt, and nature fossils. Each day, we’ll investigate concepts that help us learn about the foundations of the Earth.   

Session 3:  Habitat Detectives

August 3–7, 2020

What do grass, rabbits, fungus, rocks, humans, and ants have in common? We are all strands in a complex web of life. Become a habitat detective in your own backyard, in the middle of a city, or at a nearby park. The only tools you need are your keen observational skills as you take a close look and learn about the world around you and learn about the roles that both living and non-living things play in keeping nature in balance. Explore the layers of the forest, play meadow Simon Says, create a pond creature, make a web of life, and more! 

Session 4: Seussical Science

August 10–14, 2020

Inspired by a Dr. Seuss book each day, we will focus on the message of the story to investigate and learn about nature. Care about the smallest creatures like Horton and wonder what comes down from the sky like Bartholomew. Explore the biodiversity in your backyard, take a micro-hike to see tiny worlds, learn about states of matter, create your own special adaptation, and make some Oobleck. Older campers will take Fernie the Fish on an adventure while younger campers will “make it rain” in an imaginary town. 

Session 5: Things with Wings

August 17–21, 2020

Learn all about winged creatures! Birds, bats, butterflies, bees, and so much more—you will learn about how they fly, what they eat, and where they live. Create a new species of bird, learn how bats find their food and what they like to eat, discover what color of flowers to plant to attract butterflies, play a dragonfly life cycle game, and dance like a bee. 

Session 6: Go Green

August 24–28, 2020

Where would we be without plants and clean air? Spend the week discovering different plants, what they can be used for, and how important they are to keeping our Earth healthy. Learn how trees recycle nutrients and play a recycling game, discover the important job of pollinators in producing the food we eat, and see how composting leftovers can help the garden grow.