Posted on Leave a comment

Fun Fish Activities For Preschoolers

On one particularly cold, dreary, winter day I decided we needed to get out of the house! We piled in the car and headed to the pet store for an impromptu field trip. Your local pet store is such a great place to learn about fish with preschoolers! No one is getting dirty, wet, and there are so many different types of fish to observe.

preschool science fish

Usually I can walk into that store and not come home with anything. This day, however, I couldn’t resist. The kids were so interested in all the fish. We left that day with a table-top tank and fish supplies but no fish. When I got home, I started planning our preschool fish theme.

The first day we set up the tank and talked about what our fish would need in their home. My kids added the gravel, real plants, and water.  We waited a day in order to prepare the tank environment.  We added  water conditioner to the water to  help stabilize the environment (get rid of rid of any chlorine, ammonia, or chloramine) which hopefully would allow the fish to acclimate to their new home easier. Then we let the water sit in our table-top tank for 24 hours before going back to the pet store to get our fish. We decided to get guppies!

Fish Vocabulary & Journal

I like to introduce vocabulary while observing items. So while we  sit and watch the fish, I try to bring up the following terms naturally.

“Do you see the fish’s tail?”

“Look at the fish. Does it have skin like we do?”

“How do you think fish breathe under water?”

“Do you see those ‘slits’ on the side of the fish? Those are gills– and they help fish breathe.”

  • gills
  • fins
  • scales
  • mouth
  • eyes
  • tail (actually a caudal fin)
  • Fish Journal

Homeschool Nature Study Members can download My Fish Journal in their dashboard.

If your preschooler enjoys sorting games, be sure to print the Water or Land worksheet from the dashboard as well. This is a cute sorting craft & game. All that’s required is to cut out different animals from the worksheet and sort them into which habitat they live ~ water or land. Be sure to ask your kiddos questions using the Fish Vocabulary words above. Does this bear have gills? Is the fox fury or does it have scales?

Fish Pretend Play Activities

We had some left-over gravel from setting up our own aquarium so we poured that into the bottom of a plastic shoe box. Then the girls decorated their own pretend aquarium using toys from around the house. Though I did this activity more for my toddler and preschooler, my kindergartener loved it too!

Older children can make their own cardboard box fish diorama. By using craft supplies around the house they can create their own fun underwater world. Either glue felt fish to the box or make hanging “puppets”.

My kids played with this for quite a while–using their imaginations. It ended up looking like a scene from Finding Nemo. Which is also a fun movie to watch during lunch or afternoon snack time.

Fish Books

learn about fish

We read and looked at many different fish-related books. After reading Fish Eye, each child made their own foam fish design. Here were some other books that we used:

Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert, My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki, What’s It Like to Be a Fish? by Wendy Pfeffer, Under the Sea by Anna Milbourne, Goldfish: Watch It Grow Series.

We are enjoying our guppies very much! And much to our delight, we also found a snail in our tank! It must have hitched a ride on the plants we put in the aquarium.

Homeschool Nature Study Membership

Not yet a Member? Join today to access Nature Studies all year long, free Worksheets and Downloads, plus more fun Ideas!

Posted on Leave a comment

Frogs and Toads: Learning Activities For Kids

Most children love to chase, catch, and watch frogs. Frogs and toads make cool noises and have such unique markings. Spend some time outside and learn about frogs and toads in your area.

frogs and toads

Frogs and Toads: Learning Activities For Kids

Frog or Toad ?

Do you know the difference between frogs and toads? Frogs have long legs, longer than their head and body, which are made for hopping. Toads, on the other hand, have much shorter legs and prefer to crawl around rather than hop. Frogs have smooth, somewhat slimy skin. Toads have dry, warty skin.

Find Tadpoles

Frogs start off as tadpoles in the water. So the best place to observe tadpoles is near the water, stream, pond, etc. However you don’t always have to go so far.

We once drained our pool to seal a crack. It rained and rained for weeks. The bottom of the pool collected water and before we could have the repair team out … we heard them. We had no idea most frogs are nocturnal animals. And it wasn’t long until we started to see tadpoles in our pool. Of course my boys were thrilled to catch the adult frogs hiding out around the bushes and scoop up cups of tadpoles.

It was fun to learn about frogs and toads as we watched our tadpoles slowly grow legs. Tadpoles usually need 14 weeks to turn into frogs. We also learned it’s impossible to recognize one tadpole from another so they might have been renamed a dozen different times.

We absolutely loved Chalk Pastel Art’s Pond Nature Study and chalk art Frog Life Cycle!

Members can print the Homeschool Nature Study’s Frog Life Cycle Worksheet, no babysitting tadpoles required. If you are going to scoop up some tadpoles please make sure you never put them in tap water. Always keep them in pond-water or rain water. House tap water is not the right temperature and it contains chemicals that will kill the tadpoles.

Visit the Herpertarium

If you are unsuccessful finding frogs or toads around your yard, neighborhood pond, etc. visit a Herpertarium to learn about frogs and toads. A herpetarium is a zoological exhibition space for reptiles and amphibians, most commonly a dedicated area of a larger zoo or science center. This is where you’ll find the largest toad, poison dart frogs, and other really interesting amphibians safely behind glass. Bring a sketch book to draw the wonderful animals you see.

frog nature study

Create a Frog Friendly Environment

Frogs do not live full time in water, after they lay their eggs in water they return to dry ground. You can create your own frog friendly environment by providing a damp, rocky, plant happy area in your yard. If you do catch a frog or toad give them some soil, rocks, and plants. Be sure to return them to the wild after observation. We sorta forgot about a lid, so every frog we caught eventually jumped out, rather easily, and went on its merry way.

frog study

A side note about our frog-filled pool. Unfortunately it attracted snakes. Which of course steered us next to a snake nature study and getting repairs finished quickly!

Share your beautiful frog nature studies with us on social media! Tag @OutdoorHourChallenge. We love to see your wonderful discoveries.

Join the fun and become a Nature Study Member!

It’s easy to sign up and enjoy pre-planned lessons, nature study ideas, free worksheets, crafts, a homeschool nature loving community, and more!

Stef started homeschooling her boys in 2008. She quickly adopted a hands-on learning homeschool style and graduated her oldest tactile learner in 2021. Stef started the Hands-On Learning column in Homeschooling Today magazine. The Laytons currently reside in the foothills of Colorado where Stef also teaches yoga. The family loves to hike trails, stand-up paddle board, and chase sunsets. Stef shares travel and homeschool tips on IG at @LaytonAdventures.

Posted on Leave a comment

Learn About Birds: Activities for Young Children

It’s a great time to learn about birds! Are you participating in the  Great Backyard Bird Count?  This national event is held every February and is a great opportunity to spend time with your young children to learn about birds in your backyard.

Learn about birds in your neighborhood with these 7 fun activities for young children. Bird resources for Backyard Bird Count.

My younger children were always interested in learning about birds, so I found bird activities to stretch out the fun throughout the month. First we created a bird friendly environment in our yard. This Heart Shaped Bird Feeder craft from Your Best Homeschool is a fun craft but also a great way to attract birds to your yard! Be sure to watch outside every morning and every afternoon to see “who” stops by.

Homeschool Nature Study Members can download the Bird of the Day Notebooking Page and our Bird Life Cycle worksheet from your dashboard to document and track the birds while learning about the different stages of a bird’s life.

Children will enjoy the Bird Scripture Verses coloring pages at Your Best Homeschool! Be sure to head over and download those for morning bible time.

Learn About Birds With a Bird Nature Walk

A bird nature walk is a wonderful opportunity to observe birds with your younger children. You can see bigger birds that might never come to your backyard bird feeder. Head out around the playground, lake, neighborhood walking trails, etc.

Though my younger children sometimes have difficulty using binoculars, they love having them! So we bring them on our nature walks and find a quiet place to sit (usually near a pond or meadow) and see how many birds we can spot.

Many young children do not know the names of birds so be sure to start with simple identification markings. Color, size, crown, and other markings. This Bird Scavenger Hunt worksheet is a great bring-along sheet to mark off all the birds you see that day.

Get Your Printable Bird Scavenger Hunt!

Subscribe to get FREE Printable Bird Scavenger Hunt.

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Nature Study Booklets for Your Nature Walk

    You can help your preschooler make his or her own bird paper bag booklet. My children loved it because they felt like a big kid and were proud of their creation. The pages in the book reinforce basic bird facts and allow your child to customize the pages as he’d like.

    The inside pages have a place where to draw what you have observed on our nature walk. This is a perfect nature craft for kids!

    Paper bag journals are so easy to make and are a great size for little children to handle. Watch the video (linked below) for the simple directions.

    Get your FREE paper bag journal pages and watch a video on how to make them: Easy Preschool Science Nature Journals.

    Learn about birds in your neighborhood with these 7 fun activities for young children. Bird resources for Backyard Bird Count.

    Set up a Bird Feeder

    My kids love to observe birds from the comfort of our own home! We set up a bird feeder where we could watch the birds from our front room. An easy way to learn about birds!

    Learn About Birds with More Bird Resources

    Boost your bird study with more resources from Homeschool Nature Study. Click an image below to add more bird learning fun to your fowl studies.

    Bird-Themed Nature Writing Center

    You can easily set up a bird-themed writing station at home using your printer and supplies you have on hand. A series on writing centers on the WriteShop blog inspired me to create our first-ever writing center.

    I tried to provide materials for all age-levels in my home— 1yr to 13yrs. old. I have the station set up by a window so that they will hopefully be inspired by any winged creatures they see outside too.

    You can easily set up a bird-themed writing station at home using your printer and supplies you have on hand. A series on writing centers on the WriteShop blog inspired me to create our first-ever writing center.

    You might include some of the following in your writing center:

    Bird Book Recommendation

    Feathers for Lunch is a perfect book to introduce nature to little ones. Lois Ehlert has a wonderful way of crafting the illustrations, and she pairs the real name of 12 birds along with their pictures in this book. After reading it, my girls and I went to our window to see if we could find any of the birds that were listed in the book. Then we made our own feathered-friend craft. This craft is easy and requires just a few items you might already have on hand in your homeschool supplies. What is fun about this craft is that you can make many different feathered friends just by changing colored paper and feathers.

    Feathers for Lunch: Bird Craft Supplies

    Craft foam or construction paper, glue, feathers, wiggly-eyes, and a pencil.

    Learn about birds in your neighborhood with these 7 fun activities for young children. Bird resources for Backyard Bird Count.

    First: Trace your child’s hand onto craft foam or construction paper and cut out the hand print.

    Next: Add glue to the hand print – cover as much space as you can.

    Then: Place feathers on top of the glue covering the hand.

    Cut a circle out of a coordinating color of fun foam or construction paper. Adhere the circle on top of the feathers.

    Lastly: Glue wiggly-eyes and a triangle beak.

    Learn about birds in your neighborhood with these 7 fun activities for young children. Bird resources for Backyard Bird Count.

    Be sure to have your child sign the back and add the date or their age. This is also a nice little gift to send along to grandma, an aunt, or someone special. A child’s hand-print is a special keep-sake. You can create red ones for Valentine’s Day, green feathers for St. Patrick’s, etc. The possibilities are endless!

    Homeschool Nature Study Membership

    Join us for even more homeschool nature studies for all the seasons! With a nature study each week, you will have joyful learning leading all the way through the homeschool year for all your ages!

    Not yet a Homeschool Nature Study Member? We’d love for you to join us and take advantage of the numerous studies – already planned out for you, craft ideas, free worksheets, and #outdoorhourchallenge fun! Become a member and bring the love of learning nature and science easily into your home.

    Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

    Written by Maureen Spell. Updated and new resources created by Stef Layton.