5 Outdoor Summer Science Projects

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

This post originally published on July 12, 2010. Perhaps today would be good for a little outdoor science? Happy 4th to our American readers!

Chances are that if you dared to sit your children down at the dining table with a worksheet this month, they’d look at you like you had antlers coming out of your head.

And for good reason.

Everything in nature is crying out for growth and movement during these warm days, and that includes your little people. As homeschoolers who recognize that we never take a complete break from learning, summer presents us with multiple opportunities for casual science study.

On a lazy, hot day when your tribe is restless, pull out one of these five projects and get ready for some learning–and a little laughter as well.

1. Nature Bingo Cards

This is a perfect activity to keep preschoolers entertained while hiking or taking a walk around the neighborhood. Before you head out, create one or more bingo cards. On each bingo square, draw (or have your child draw) pictures of various items in nature: birds, trees, rocks, sticks, and so on.

Have them take their cards on your walk and hunt for their items, trying to reach bingo before you head home again.

2. Birdfeeders

From pinecones covered in peanut butter to empty soda bottles filled with juice, there are a plenty of ways you can attract birds to your yard for observation.

Check out the many birdfeeder ideas available on this site.

3. Sink or Float Experiment

Have your children gather a variety of outdoor items: rocks, sticks, leaves, sand, and so on. Using your paddling pool or a bucket filled with water, have the children make their hypothesis about which items will sink or float.

Then let them test their theories to see if they’re right!

4. Ice Cube Melting Contest

Make some ice cubes (add food coloring for fun if you’d like). When they’re frozen, take outside and have an ice cube melting contest. Each child guesses how long it will take his ice to melt.

Write down the guesses and then release the cubes on that hot cement! Whoever comes closest to the correct time is the winner.

5. Sidewalk Egg Frying

“It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Is this really true? I guarantee your kids will love it if you let them experiment to find out.

Make your preparations after watching this short video (and make sure you use aluminum foil–or be ready for some cleanup afterward!).

Enjoy another week in the sun and make sure you do plenty of outdoor adventuring!

What activities have been keeping you busy outside this week?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Love this post!!! I am just dying to make some local nature bingo/scavenger cards… I think that may be one of our next big projects. Otherwise we do science notebooks at least twice a week in summer (in winter we just aren’t as keen!!!), here is our notebook fun: http://www.se7en.org.za/2008/11/14/how-se7en-do-their-nature-notebooks
    se7en’s latest post: Saturday Spot- The Mending Bag And Se7en Steps To Getting It Done…

  2. Great Ideas!
    The Butterfly Nest’s latest post: The Bad News Is

  3. Jamie,

    I love these ideas. We’re incorporating science more into our school this year and a lot of the experiments call for the collection of several items before you’re able to start a project. I like the simplicity (I wouldn’t expect anything less from you) of these experiments.

    After our move, we finally live in a climate (not preferred – I miss the California breezes) where we just might be able to fry an egg on the sidewalk, so I guess we’ll try that one for sure before the weather changes. I also like the nature bingo cards idea which we can use on one of our walks.
    Jennifer @ Milk & Honey Mommy’s latest post: Exit Wound

  4. Wow! Since the temp is supposed to be 106 today the kids and I are having Sidewalk-Fried Eggs for lunch. Thanks for the fun idea!

  5. We did the float or sink experiment, and got totally soaked! We found an interesting result with our sidewalk chalk. Brings up all sorts of questions about the composition of matter . . . it could get complicated! 🙂 I love it!

  6. We’ve done a similar one with the ice cubes – more for little ones – just take an empty carton of milk or juice (cardboard) and put a few toys in there, then fill with water and freeze it. After it’s frozen, peel off the cardboard and watch the cube melt in the sun and release the toys. Small children love it! (and even big ones too)
    Leslie’s latest post: Multitude Monday

  7. Love the bingo idea! It turns your yard into a treasure hunt. And that last comment about freezing things IN the ice is awesome. I was also getting excited about the birdfeeders when I remembered that our two cats would LOVE the new “prey”coming into our yard. We’ll leave that one to someone else. =)
    Alissa’s latest post: Irony

  8. Great ideas! Our adaption of the ice experiment with two boys, is taking cups or containers and making large ice cubes. They them like to take the cubes out and break them with hammers in the driveway. We watch the smaller pieces melt as well.
    Michelle Richards’s latest post: Embracing Summer

  9. Nature Bingo is a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to try it. I could also see using it as a long-term project–one in which you come up with a sturdy, comprehensive bingo card and then check off a longer, more difficult list of things to find throughout the whole summer as opposed to just in one day.
    Jaimie’s latest post: Back in TownSort of

  10. How fun! We’ll be trying the sidewalk egg frying, for sure! But luckily, the forecast looks too fair today. We’ll be back in the 90s or higher soon–at least there’s a reason to be glad about those high temps.
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: This Post Brought to You by Your Friendly Public Library

  11. I’ve heard of trying to fry and egg but never tried. I’m gonna mention it to the kids next time we have a day in the 90’s.
    Christina Pilkington’s latest post: A Collection of 100 Quotes About Natural, Self-Directed Learning & Compulsory Schooling

  12. what great ideas! i was doing nothing special this week.. next week i’m gonna use your advice and become a birdfeeder 🙂
    sapir’s latest post: Why to use green cleaning products? “Go Green” at the ordinary house cleaning!

  13. We play nature bingo a couple of times a week. We have different cards made up for the different seasons so we can play all year long. It’s good incentive to get my daughter out walking with me!

  14. Jennifer says:

    Great post every once in a while we have family picnic and we bring bingo cards all all my siblings and nephews and niece.and we really had great fun in playing cards.thanks for sharing this thoughts.
    Jennifer’s latest post: Teaching Kids About Banking

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