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  • Take advantage of children’s natural curiosity with the following resources. They require very little equipment – most of it should be in your kitchen or garden. Each topic has wrap-around resources to help with background information for the adults or caregivers.

    To get the most out of the activities, check out the article Learning science from home – ideas to deepen learning before you begin. Science is about discovery, curiosity and observation. Two key outcomes of any activity can simply be enjoyment and the conversations that arise from the experience.

    This resource was created in response to COVID-19 and incorporates activities that can be done at home or close to home.

    COVID-19 resources

    These resources provide useful background information and help with some of the specific language used to report on COVID-19:

    Rights: Jessie Eastland, CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Sun appearing in the east

    As the Earth’s axial rotation spins our planet towards the light of the Sun, we see the Sun appear in the east. Due to the Earth’s rotation, our view of the Sun changes throughout the day.

    Observing the sky

    Take a break from looking at a screen and go outside to look at the sky instead. It’s dangerous to look at the Sun, but we can observe the apparent movement of the Sun across the sky by looking at shadows. The article Light and shadows explains the basics – and it’s not the Sun that moves. Check it out for yourself with this activity – it has lots of ideas for shadow science.

    While outside, look at clouds. Learn some of their names, shapes and where they occur in the sky with this article and then make a cloud in the kitchen.

    The night sky also presents excellent opportunities for observation – it was the original Netflix for thousands of years! Read about the star compass – kāpehu whetū, check out constellations, observe the apparent movement of the Moon and see if you can spot a satellite.


    Raid the recycling bin and build stuff to learn about forces. There are lots of forces that affect flight – that’s why good design is so important. When making paper planes, wing shape and size, angle of attack and nose weight are important! Rockets also need careful design and lots of thrust to get into space. Use an effervescent canister to test these principles, and follow it up by making a balloon car.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Testing car safety features

    In the activity Investigating car safety features, students build a car to better understand how seatbelts and crumple zones protect passengers and learn about the forces involved.

    Build a different type of model car to investigate how seatbelts and crumple zones protect us.


    Fire offers lots of opportunities for observation. Remember that any activity involving fire is inherently dangerous. Have a wet cloth or container of water at hand and talk about how to stay safe around fire.

    Read about smoke and fire, then light a candle to observe a candle flame and the process of burning. Experiment with ways to put out the candle flame. An adult can demonstrate the power of combustion with exploding flour.

    We have some odd phrases when it comes to fire – we talk about watching it grow, feeding it and watching it die. These alternative conceptions create interesting discussion points. The candle in a jar activity also creates debate.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    A candle's flame

    Observe the various parts of a candle's flame and start to develop ideas about the combustion process.

    Life cycles

    There are life cycles that can be explored in the garden. For a real challenge, watch for white butterflies and where they might be laying eggs. Their life cycle is quite different to that of a monarch butterfly – much more secretive – but interesting to observe.

    Fungi life cycles (Ngā hurihanga ora o te hekaheka) are unusual. Fungi don’t produce their own food. They have to find it – like animals do – but fungi can’t move. Check out damp parts of the garden for evidence of fungi, their fruitbodies and perhaps their hyphae. Spores are too small to see individually, but you can create a spore print (te mahi tānga pua atua harore) with a mushroom.

    So much more to explore

    This is just a taste of what is on offer. Follow the links to find images, videos, interactives and lots more activities about:

    Related content

    Check out our articles with ideas for hands-on, active and outdoor learning from home for:

    These articles include a mixture of hands-on and online at home learning for:

    Peruse these articles for engaging ideas or for extension opportunities. They are ideal if you have learners of different ages.

    Useful links

    See our Pinterest board – full of activities, articles and more to help teachers, schools and/or parents setting up online learning at home.

    Visit the Learning from home government website for more activity ideas.

    Kids Greening Taupō has great ideas for getting kids outdoors and connecting with nature.

    The Science Spark website has a range of guides and activities for children from ages 8 to 11.

      Published 1 April 2020 Referencing Hub articles
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