From tree-hugging to dragonflies to hands-on virtual STEM clubs that come to you, these activities will get kids exploring science this summer!

Nature Walks and Talks

Kids don’t need to venture far from home to be intrigued and amazed by nature. Watching a busy squirrel, looking at ants crawling on a forest floor, or hearing birds singing, can be fascinating experiences to a young child. There are intriguing sights, smells, and sounds waiting to be discovered on every outdoor walk. Help children focus on making good observations by providing photographs of things to look for, such as common insects, birds, amphibians, or even meadow plants. To get you started, try printing our Backyard Bird Watch to help you identify feathered friends found in your area.

Making Friends with a Tree

 

A child hugging a tree.
Photo credit: Ben + Sam

 

On your next jaunt, try making trees the focus. Why are trees important? Which animals live in the trees? Why do we need trees? Create a dialogue about animals that rely on trees for habitats, the vital role that trees play in removing carbon dioxide, or how trees provide hiding places, swinging places, and even food.

Gaining an appreciation for nature as a child helps foster a strong connection to the living world. Check out our resource here to encourage little ones to make friends with a tree. Not just any tree, a special tree that they can befriend forever.

Bark Rubbings

Bark rubbings are an easy way to appreciate the texture and patterns of different trees. Using only thick paper and some colour, you can instantly have colourful works of bark art. Simply place a thick paper on the bark of a tree trunk, find a tree with pits, lumps, and bumps, (all the things that make it special), and then rub by applying a bit of pressure using charcoal or crayons.

Discover Dragonflies and Damselflies

Oding, the pursuit of finding and looking at dragonflies, is the latest hobby to take off amongst naturalists. The Latin species name for dragonfly is Odonata, hence the term ‘oding’. Dragonflies have been around for 300 million years, so that makes them older than the dinosaurs!

Guide to Oding

A blue dragonfly flying.
Photo credit: LollyKnit

This hobby doesn’t require pen or paper, simply a stroll to a pond, lake or meadow will do. All you need is a curious mind and good sense of observation. You can spend endless hours in the summer just watching these graceful insects fly around. Be prepared to be awe-inspired by their exceptional beauty and design. No need for binoculars, their brilliant iridescent colours make them easy to spot.

Dragonflies, also known as “sky hunters”, spend most of their day flying around looking for insects to eat. Thanks to their voracious predatory appetite, they help keep our mosquito population down. Kids may notice how quickly dragonflies move while on the hunt for a meal. They have four wings that move independently. This adaptation allows for skilled acrobatic flying: they can hover like a helicopter, move up and down, and fly backwards and forwards, reaching speeds of up to 55 km/h.

A magnified photo of a dragon fly's eyeball.
Photo credit: Catherine Morrison 29

They also boast the biggest eyes of any insect. Their massive compound eyes have thousands of lenses, called facets or ommatidia, giving them excellent vision.

It is easy to confuse dragonflies with damselflies. Both insects belong to the genus Odonata, but there are subtle differences to help you tell them apart.

Bring along a net and bucket and you can also spend some time looking at baby dragonflies and damselflies, called nymphs, living in pond water. Dragonflies and damselflies spend most of their lives in and around water and begin their lifecycle underwater. Nymphs use gills to breathe, and kids may find it funny to learn that the gills of a dragonfly are located on their bottom!

Curious to learn about other creatures that lurk in ponds, like fairy shrimp and caddisflies? Check out or “Exploring Wild Wetlands” video on our YouTube channel!

Summer STEM Club

Clubs aren’t just for treehouses! In our Summer STEM Clubs, kids meet virtually and actively participate in hands-on science activities. This five-day adventure has kids exploring physics, chemistry, biology, and kitchen science while building critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Sessions are one-hour in length and led by dynamic, expert presenters, that guide students through several experiments over the course of the week.

Kids receive individually packaged investigative materials delivered to their front door. Five mini science bags for five highly-investigative workshops. From making silly putty to exploring flight, there are several topics to choose from, and two different STEM Club Combinations, for those keen to come back for more.

Like all clubs, kids enjoy connecting with other kids that have similar interests. According to happiness researcher, Dr. Gillian Mandich, you can feel happy and energized even when the experience is virtual. You don’t have to be in the same room physically to feel joy. We also asked Dr. Mandich, a guest on Spotlight with Scientists in School, whether people still feel connected when doing activities virtually. The answer is “Yes!”. . Hear the full interview with Dr. Gillian Mandich on our YouTube channel.

Kids enjoy spending time with other kids when doing something together that makes them feel joyful. Check out all our Summer STEM Club has to offer for kids ages 6-12. Click here to join the club!

Dragonflies, birds, clubs, and trees
It sure sounds like summertime to me!