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Activity for August:

The Earth is Alive! 

Photo from National Aeronautics Space Administration

In many places, school will be starting again, later this month.

But don’t stay inside!

This is one of the BEST months to explore nature!

It’s August and that means the growing season is beginning to slow down. Leaves are beginning their transition to drying out, flowers begin to fade, young adult animals are beginning to leave their family groups, and some birds begin migrating south. But there is still plenty to explore in nature-- before school starts again!

Interesting things can be found during the day or even at night! This month we included activities you can do during both.

Let’s start with our daytime activities.

Day Activity One: Take a Walk in the Wild!


Take a walk in a meadow, your backyard, or any open area.

Listen for insects like grasshoppers or crickets (a raspy sound). Do you hear any birds or see them flying overhead? What about butterflies, flowers, and the plain ol’ grass?

There is a lot alive if you just look!

Can you find any of these things?

  • Birds: like a Barn Swallow (look for the V-shaped tail).
  • Butterflies: like the Tiger Swallowtail (how do you suppose it got that name?).
  • Different types of grass (did you know that grasses, sedges, and rushes look similar but can be told apart by their stems? Grasses normally have hollow stems, rushes have round stems, and sedges have “edges” or angular stems.)
  • Caterpillars on a plant (many are green, black, and yellow, but they have different patterns).
  • An adult Monarch Butterfly (that may be getting ready to migrate to Mexico to spend the winter).
  • A hawk (or a vulture or an eagle—you can tell the difference by their silhouette in the sky!).

Day Activity Two: Design at Flower (or a Bird or Butterfly)

Nature does a good job with flowers of different colors and shapes, but could you do better? You might want to design an imaginary flower! Here are some things to consider when designing your flower:

  • Where would this flower live?
  • What will it look like?
  • Does it need shade or sun?
  • What kind of pollinator does it attract? If the pollinator is imaginary too, then you can draw and describe that too.
  • Why is your flower perfect for a pollinator?
  • Does your flower have a special name?

Once you have created this imaginary flower, go outside and look for real flowers and compare your creativity to the real thing!

Feel free to share photos of your creations with us!

Day Activity Three: Just for Fun with Your Friends!

Egg, Caterpillar, Butterfly Game

(This game works best with several players—the more the better!)


Bees aren’t the only pollinators. Butterflies and moths move pollen from flower to flower, too. Unlike bees, butterflies and moths have the same 4-part life cycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis (cocoon), adult.

This game uses “rock, paper, scissors” (RPS) as the basis.

Remember:

  • Paper covers rock
  • Rock breaks scissors
  • Scissors cut paper 


The Steps:

  1. Every player starts as an egg (crouched down). 
  2. Two “eggs” play RPS. 
  3. The winner becomes a caterpillar (crawling) and begins looking for another butterfly to play RPS. 
  4. The loser stays an egg and looks for another egg. 
  5. After caterpillar is chrysalis (stand up), and finally Butterfly (arms extended, flying.)


Next, our nighttime activities.

Night Activity One: Take a Walk in the Wild!

Sitting outside in your own yard on a summer night, especially just as it gets dark, may reveal some things you haven’t paid attention to—like fireflies and bats!

  • Bats are active at twilight and will swoop around the sky as they search for insects to eat. Sometimes they are mistaken for birds, but if you look closely, you will see they aren’t! Don’t be afraid of them—they are just hungry and ready to eat some mosquitos!
  • Lightening Bugs are one of the most common sights of a summer night. Their light is produced by a chemical reaction and different species have different flashes! Some fireflies fly in a smooth pattern while others are jerky. And the number of flashes can identify the species! If you are a male firefly, you will fly and flash in a distinctive pattern to signal to the female of the same species. The female will respond with a flash that indicates they are the same species.

How do scientists know all this? They study them!

You can too just by watching. As you get older, you may think about studying bats or fireflies as a career.

Night Activity Two: Watch the Night Sky


Summer nights in August, when the moon is not full, are the perfect time for watching the stars in the night sky!

If possible, get away from streetlights or buildings (a grassy meadow or park where there’s no trees or buildings is the perfect place).

Look up!

Ancient people saw “pictures” in the sky called constellations.

  • Orion was a great hunter (with his dog, Sirius)
  • Scorpio was a scorpion
  • Draco a dragon
  • The Little Dipper is also called the Little Bear 
  • The Big Dipper, the Big Bear
  • The North Star can be found at any season of the year by looking in the direction of North and finding the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.

Night Activity Three: The Perseid Meteor Shower


Every year during the end of July and the beginning of August the Earth passes through the Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Swift Tuttle is the largest solar system object to pass closely to Earth regularly. The trail left by this comet creates a meteor shower visible to us! We call this the Perseid Meteor Shower.

This year, the peak of the shower will be seen on August 11-12th (generally between 2 and 5 am, looking to the northeast).

See if you and your parents can take some time to watch as it passes.


Parents and teachers can download the PDF version of our July activities here!


We hope you enjoyed these activities!


Submit a photo of you doing this month's activity and you may be featured on our page next month! Or, let us know if you have any suggestions for the next program theme.


If you had fun with our activities, check out Conservation Connect: an environmental education program for students and teachers.


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