Created: 3/26/2020 Updated: 4/1/2020
With many families feeling unprepared to teach at home, the Nature Museum has stepped up to introduce a revamped daily newsletter focusing around homeschooling. Each e-blast gives parents, caregivers, and educators a day’s worth of lessons focusing around a central nature and science topic. Now we know teaching at home doesn’t come naturally to many of us, so don’t worry – we are here to help.
Every day, Nature Museum educators work side-by-side with teachers in Chicago-area classrooms, helping them gain more confidence and feel more comfortable in teaching science class. We know that empowered and supported teachers lead to more time spent on science and to higher quality learning for students.
1. You don't need to know all the content!
Take this opportunity to show your scientist that we are all life-long learners. Embrace the uncertainty and learn alongside your scientist. Remember: science isn't about knowing facts – it's a process of curiosity, wonder, and exploration. Instead of focusing on knowing facts, engage your scientist in the practices of science by encouraging them to ask questions, investigate, and share their explanations as they figure it out.
2. Spark curiosity and foster wonder!
There are so many ways to do this, but one of our favorites is to bring natural objects inside. Have your scientist make observations and ask them what questions they have.
Unable to bring nature in? Not a problem. Watch videos, look out the window, or look at some images. Then, add questions and observations to a wonder wall so you can come back and investigate them later! Here’s a great resource for you explaining the power of asking questions to your scientist.
Try to find a way to keep track of your scientist’s inquiries, too! We’re heading into spring, so there will be plenty of change in nature to investigate.
3. Help your scientist make connections and drive their own learning!
As scientists, we are not “learning about” but “figuring out”. Encourage and support your scientist in seeking out the answers to their own questions by asking them open-ended questions like, “What do you see that makes you say that?” “Why do you think ____ is doing _____?”
4. Build routines for learning – and repeat them daily or weekly.
Things like nature journals, a wonder wall, and drawing for understanding are practices that your scientist can keep coming back to within the same thread of learning. Help them to continue noticing, wondering, and making connections! Check out this 2-minute video to discover why (and how!) drawing is such a powerful tool for learning.
5. Use technology to look more closely and think more deeply about the natural world!
There are so many awesome ways to use technology to connect with the natural world--and contribute to the science community at the same time. Try using or downloading:
-iNaturalist (and for younger learners, there is also Seek by iNaturalist)
-Celebrate Urban Birds from the Cornell Lab or Ornithology
-Project Budburst with the Chicago Botanic Garden
-Chicago Wildlife Watch: you can actually help scientists understand the animals we share the city with by identifying the ones that have been observed in on camera.
6. Foster social-emotional learning through local nature!
Nature is a powerful tool in our social and emotional wellbeing. Take some time outside each day–or bring nature indoors–to practice mindfulness and experience wonder, awe, creativity, connection, and feelings of joy and calm. Take some time to walk around the block, or give your scientists time for some child-led outdoor play!
7. Don’t forget: science learning happens at all ages!
Exploring nature is appropriate and accessible for scientists of all ages. Our youngest scientists can use their senses to explore and notice what’s around them, while our older scientists may start to look for interactions/connections between living things and their habitats.
We hope these tips will come in handy as you help your young scientists learn all about nature and science while at home. We know homeschooling is a new world to navigate for many families, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have great science lessons at home.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our new daily newsletter where we’ll be sending daily science and nature activities you can do at home.View Comments
Created: 3/17/2020 Updated: 4/1/2020
We hope you and your family are safe and healthy at home, but we know how difficult it is to be away from school, friends, and activities. That's why we're happy to provide you with this new email series, dedicated to a day's worth of nature and science facts, activities, guiding questions to ask your kids, and more. Check out the links below for each day's theme and activities, and then subscribe to the newsletter to receive more!
Additionally, follow the Nature Museum on our social media channels for a behind-the-scenes look as we continue taking care of our live animals and butterflies!
Past Wonder at Home Emails
Explore this cool topic with your kids through videos and activities.
Originally published March 16, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Explore turtle shells, camouflage, and more!
Originally published March 17, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Learn how frogs swallow their food, the difference between toads and frogs, and more!
Originally published March 18, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Check out young reader-friendly articles about our scientists and a virtual Story Time!
Originally published March 19, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Warm weather is on the way, but how did our animal friends survive the winter? Read on to learn more!
Originally published March 20, 2020Check out the Newsletter
These amazing amphibians come in a variety of colors and sizes, and many of them call Illinois home! Read on to learn more.
Originally published March 23, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Let's take a look at some of the plants you can find around the Nature Museum and in your own backyard! Read on to learn more.
Originally published March 24, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Although you can't meet our snakes in-person right now, we still want to highlight how amazing they are. Read on to learn more about snakes!
Originally published March 25, 2020Check out the Newsletter
We use our 350,000-piece collection to bring Chicagoans closer to nature. Keep reading to explore our collections and start making your own!
Originally published March 26, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Let's meet some of the birds you might find in your backyard and around the Nature Museum!
Originally published March 27, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Explore the differences between cocoons and chrysalises, experience the monarch life cycle, and more!
Originally published March 30, 2020Check out the Newsletter
Although you can't see the lizards in our Dragons Alive! exhibit right now, we can take a closer look at some of them and also discover some of the lizards that call Illinois home!
Originally published March 31, 2020Check out the Newsletter
People often get butterflies and moths confused, and it's easy to see why! Learn more about moths here!
Originally published April 1, 2020Check out the Newsletter