Since this summer may not be filled with summer camps and vacations to faraway places, we’ve pulled together some of the best resources from around the Internet for learning about nature, science, and the outdoors. Learn about birds, try your hand at mapping, go on a virtual field trip, discover national parks, watch wildlife and zoo cams, visit museums, and learn about plants and gardening. We hope your family can get outside, learn, and enjoy summer even if staying closer to home.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Provides a wide variety of birding education resources catering to grades K-12. Resources include free educational games, activities, print-outs, book recommendations with lessons and much more.
Offers a variety of bird-centered activities, crafts, and DIY projects that can serve as a fun and educational experience for families while keeping your yard and neighborhood bird friendly.
Mapping and Exploration
Nat Geo Education pages for K12
The Mapmaker Interactive Tool is an AWESOME intro to GIS and mapping for beginners. Play around with it! You can add and remove all sorts of layers to compare and record data about certain geographical areas. You can also save, bookmark and print these maps. They also offer TONS of free printable table-top maps that you can download and assemble together and label, color or draw on. Many options are available, including one of the US and each state.
This site is also a great educational resource for all things geography and interesting about the world. We encourage you to play around in their “Resource Library” and see what else you can find.
Google Earth Education Page
Their My Maps tool is an excellent mapmaking and cartography resource for beginners. You need a Google account, but if you don’t already have one, it’s free and easy to create one. Find this tool under the “Inspiration” or “Resources” tabs.
There are also classroom style activities about map reading and relating maps to mathematics through scale.
Click the “Explore Earth” tab to discover stories of different people from around the globe as well as create your own story that relates to your home here in the NRV. There are also all sorts of place-based classroom activities and lesson plans to use with students provided here.
Virtual Field Trips
“A Plant’s Life” from Longwood Gardens
A virtual field trip to the Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. This 45 minute virtual experience not only provides a tour of the gardens, but also a plant focused lesson in Life Science, catering to grades K-8.
Discovery Education offers dozens of free virtual field trips that cover a wide variety of topics such as Conservation and Environment, Agriculture, Health and Wellness, Community Engagement, and so much more.
The Nature Conservancy
Explore all new corners of the world with The Nature Conservancy’s virtual field trips. Designed for grades 5-8, but customizable for all ages, these field trips take you all over the world to learn about life in Earth’s oceans, rainforests, deserts, and more. Each virtual field trip contains a video, teacher guide, and student activities.
National Parks Service
The NPS has partnered with Google to offer this absolutely stunning virtual walk through of several different National Parks and monuments. Each tour packed with information, using a ranger’s voiceover to guide you along the way.
Click the links below for a free close up look at any of the following National Parks:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Yosemite National Park – Map style tour allows you to click areas of the park and virtually visit and learn about many of the park’s most fascinating areas.
- Haleakalā Crater Live Cam – Check out the latest conditions with this live view of Haleakalā Crater.
Wildlife and Nature Cams
Explore Live Webcams
Provides access to several different live cams of wildlife and nature across the globe. This awesome resource will always have something amazing for you to tune into, no matter the time of day!
Smithsonian National Zoo Webcams
Provides live camera footage of several different animal residents of the Smithsonian Zoo and even has an awesome packet of related activities you can download.
National Park Service Webcams
Choose from hundreds of different webcams placed throughout US National Parks to view all sorts of wildlife across the US.
National Geographic Safari Live
Tune in to watch a real live safari every day at 10:00AM and 11:30PM EST.
Wild Earth Safari
Provides FREE, live and interactive African safari experiences! Just sign up to book a 45 minute personal interactive safari experience! To participate, you will need: a reliable internet connection, speakers so that you can hear your safari guide, and a decent monitor or tv to view the safari on.
Sharks 4 Kids
Provides tons of educational shark videos, activities, webinars, a 360 VR shark dive, and more.
Virtual Natural Science Resources
Denver Museum of Nature and Science Not only do they have hundreds of amazing videos to choose from, DMNS has a Virtual Science Academy which provides tons of awesome, grade-appropriate science lessons and activities covering all sorts of topics from Space to the human body! DMNS also has a Science in Action program that allows students to connect with scientists by tuning in to live broadcasts where they discuss research, new discoveries and more, followed by an interactive Q&A!
National Parks Service
Along with their awesome virtual field trips, the NPS offers over 100 Distance Learning resources for grades K-12 on their website, covering subjects such as science, social studies, math, climate change, language arts, and more.
Skype a Scientist
Skype a Scientist is a program that allows students to connect with scientists all over the world via Skype. Just visit the website and fill out the form – you choose what type of scientist you’d like to speak with, and then you’ll receive an email from your scientist match! From there, just prepare some questions for them and find a time to chat!
Growing Together: Gardening and Plants
A wonderful resource for families who are learning to garden together. Provides easy parent and kid gardening activities suggestions that offer ways to have fun with your garden and learn together as a family. Also provides excellent resources for families who are interested in to learning to grow a pollinator garden together.
Budburst for Families
Offers wonderful and engaging family activities that focus on plants and their role in nature, as well as free downloadable lessons for grades K-8.