STEAM@Home: Observing Nature and the World Around You
Find a window in your home to look outside, or sit outside in your backyard or at a park. Find a comfortable seat and an area to write on. What kinds of living things do you see? What are they doing?
This is an ongoing program.
Ages 3 to 13.
Grades Preschool through 8th grade.
No application or registration needed.
The program serves people at their homes or wherever it is needed or online.
- Only virtual (online or over the phone).
Find a spot near a window or go outside to your backyard or a nearby park.
Gather materials for recording observations and creating an art piece, like paper, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and/or clay. Have a timer available to use. Now you are ready to find nature!
ASK What living things (other than humans) live in your neighborhood? How does it feel to be more aware of your environment?
PREDICT Think about your neighborhood. What kinds of living things do you think you will see from your window? Why did you make that guess?
OBSERVE Set your timer for 10 minutes. Look out your window. What kinds of living things to do you see? What are they doing? How many do you see? What sounds do they make? What do you notice when you focus on one type of living thing?
RECORD Write down your observations. Draw, take detailed notes, or both!
REFLECT How do you feel about what you’re observing? Identify and describe your emotions. Record these near your written observations.
REPEAT Do you think you will observe the same living things at a different time of day? Try this again at a different time of day. Set your timer and Observe, Record, and Reflect on the living things you observe.
EXPRESS How can you combine your observations and emotions in one art piece? What is important for you to include?
This activity supports the practice of these STEAM Habits of Mind: Develop craft, engage & persist, observe, reflect, stretch & explore.
Tips for Supporting Your Children's Learning
Get your child actively involved in their own learning and having their questions drive the learning. Let them observe and figure out, and try to hold back from answering questions for them. Instead, try to ask: What do we know? What else can we find out? How might we figure that out? Don't be afraid to ask your child questions. Also, don't be afraid to say "I don't know--let's find out together!" as a way to respond to their questions. Here's an article to help you support this kind of learning: Of the Value of Saying I Don’t Know
Want to learn more about observing nature and the world around you?
- MIT Lemelson Invention Adventures - Bee the Inventor (ages 6-8)
- MIT Full STEAM Ahead weekly package - The World Around Us
- Leaf Snap - field guide to plants and trees
- Mammals of New England
- Cambridge Public Library Backyard Birding
- Cambridge Public Library Leaf Identification
- CitySprouts at Home - CPS Discovering Nature (Kindergarten)
- CitySprouts at Home - FOSS Plants and Insects (2nd grade)
- CitySprouts at Home - CPS Life in a Rotting Log (2nd grade)
- CitySprouts at Home - Where do Living Things Get Their Energy (5th grade)
More hands on activities and learning opportunities:
Cambridge Public Schools Virtual Enrichment Recommendations
- Cambridge School Volunteers - Art and Science in One
Farrington Nature Linc
Science Club for Girls at Home Recommendations
SciGirls, PBS Kids: Bird is the Word (Spanish & English)
More STEAM@Home suggestions!
- Cambridge Public Schools Enrichment Activities
- Science Club for Girls at Home
- Cambridge Science Festival - STEAM Vault
- MIT Full STEAM Ahead