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Summer science outdoors – top 5 things to do for families

Thursday 21st May 2020

It feels like summer is almost here! The sun is shining and the flowers are coming into bloom in our woodland at Stansfeld Park. As lockdown eases, it’s time to get outdoors and spend more time in your local park, going on walks or messing around in your garden at home. We’ve been looking out for fab nature-inspired things to do for families and children at home and in school. Read on for our Science Oxford team’s top 5 hands-on activities to do outdoors. And don’t forget to check out our National Children’s Gardening Week-themed resources and challenges this weekend too. You could win a free family ticket to visit Science Oxford Centre when we re-open!

1 – Fun things to do for National Children’s Gardening Week

Children’s Gardening week (23rd – 31st May) takes place annually in the ‘warm’ week at the end of May to capture children’s enthusiasm at a time when growing results are immediate. There are some fabulous ideas to keep everyone entertained during lockdown, such as making a hedgehog feeding station, rock painting bugs, creating a sensory path or even growing strawberries vertically. It supports the amazing Greenfingers charity, which is dedicated to providing magical gardens for children in hospices suffering from life-limiting illnesses.


2 – Build a bee hotel

It’s a great time to build a bee hotel with the help of the Cowley Road Carnival scientists and artists. The workshop was created for St Francis Primary School in East Oxford but everyone is welcome to join in! You can learn all about these wonderful creatures in a video and worksheet with scientist Liam Crowley and follow a hands-on workshop with artist Caitlin Howells. You’ll discover why bees are so vital for the planet.

In fact, we’re buzzing about all the brilliant ‘Carnival Arts at Home’ online activities as Cowley Road Carnival goes online this summer (look out for virtual carnival on 5th July). They have teamed up with scientists and researchers from Oxford University on a series of projects around this year’s theme of “Mother Earth”.


During #NoMowMay we’re letting our lawns and wildflowers grow at Stansfeld Park to encourage bees and insects in our gardens, so we love this bee hotel activity!

And did you know, we’ve got our very own bee hotel at Stansfeld park!



3 – Green Schoolyards America outdoor activities
Green Schoolyards are sharing free, downloadable copies of their book, filled with 250 outdoor activities for children aged 4–18. Though the book was originally designed for schools, there are plenty of family-friendly activities too and every week they are highlighting activities that you can still do without breaking the social distancing rules. We love that every activity clearly shows the age group it’s designed for, a list of the things you’ll need as well as clear instructions with photos. Best of all, lots of the activities suggest follow up ideas and conversation topics for you to talk about with your child.


4 – Muddy Faces

True to the name, Muddy Faces celebrates getting grubby outdoors and their website showcases a huge number of activities which use natural resources to develop children’s learning while having fun. Lots of the activities can be done on walks, in gardens or even indoors, using collected items or craft resources. We think their mud faces activity is a great place to start – they have made it as accessible as possible for parents, listing useful information like age ranges, duration and location at the top as well as thinking about health and safety and environmental considerations.


5 – Learning through Landscapes

For Facebook users, Learning Through Landscapes has put together a fantastic page full of fun, seasonal ideas. Every week, they develop a new downloadable document with outdoor activities for 3-5 year-olds, 5-7 year-olds and 7-11 year-olds around a theme. So that anyone can take part, every activity has an indoor adaptation for those who are unable to access a safe outdoor space. The Facebook page is active too, with lots of members contributing extra resources and ideas as well as sharing activities their families have been up to – we love that it’s such a friendly, supportive group!

Visit Facebook:

Don’t forget to check out our Science Oxford resources! Each week we post a new challenge, as well as a Bright Idea or STEM-themed talking point to get your brains ticking. We’re also scouting the web for the very best STEM resources that are reviewed by our team.

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