Grab and Go Outdoor Activities
Looking for easy ways to connect with nature from home? We have you covered! Turn your yard, neighborhood trail, or even your windowsill into an untapped educational park experience. Check out these grab-and-go activities, brought to you by our wooly mascot Buddy Bison, that will help your kids stay engaged with the outdoors no matter where you call home.
Habitat Matching at Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress is made up of five distinct habitats, making it the ideal home for all sorts of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Learn what makes each habitat special; then see if you can match Big Cypress’ wild residents to their homes.
Bringing Dark Skies Inside with Buddy Bison
Did you know that Big Cypress is a designated International Dark Sky Place? If you visit the park at night you can take in stunning views of the Milky Way and thousands of stars! Bring those views to where you live by creating a constellation flashlight.
Grand Canyon Landscape Art with Buddy Bison
The Grand Canyon’s cliffs, mesas, and valleys have inspired countless artists and photographers. Capture the beauty of the landscape’s rock formations and sunset backdrop using art supplies from home!
Create a Grand Canyon With Buddy Bison
The force of the Colorado River has carved the rock of the Grand Canyon over millions of years. Try this experiment at home and observe the effects of water erosion…without the million-year wait.The Grand Canyon’s cliffs, mesas, and valleys have inspired countless artists and photographers. Capture the beauty of the landscape’s rock formations and sunset backdrop using art supplies from home!
Learning About Density in Saltwater vs. Fresh Water
Parks including Crater Lake National Park (OR) and Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NV, AZ) have freshwater ecosystems. Other parks like Fire Island National Seashore (NY) and Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL, MS) have saltwater ecosystems.
The type of water found in a park (and its density) determine what animals can survive there. Learn how salt can affect water density by doing a simple experiment with an egg and a glass of water.
Learning About Sea Turtles With Buddy Bison
Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is not only the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, but it is also a nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. The Kemp’s ridley is critically endangered and nests at Padre Island more than any other location in the United States.
Learn about the features that distinguish this sea turtle from other sea turtle species, then make a lifesize model using materials from home.
Memorial Day Poetry with Buddy Bison
Create a shape poem about the United States and reflect on what makes you proud of our country. Is it the diversity of your community or the beauty of our national parks? Grab a pencil, let the creativity begin, and share your poem with a loved one.
Communicating Like a Civil War Soldier With Buddy Bison
Without modern technology, Civil War soldiers had to find creative ways to communicate in secret. Learn about signal flags with Buddy Bison and discover how soldiers who fought in the Battle of Antietam (which took place in Maryland) used flags, codes, and ciphers to send and encrypt messages. Then create your own flag, establish a secret code, and send coded messages to your friends and family.
Build a Mini-Park with Buddy Bison
Celebrate Parks to Kids Day any time of year by building a mini-park! Use your imagination and materials from home to construct a park in your living room, backyard, or even a family parking spot – just have fun and be creative!
Go outside, get active, and get your “park-on” by joining our mascot Buddy Bison for the Blinding Lights Dance Challenge. Learn the steps, record your dance, and show off your dance moves by sharing on social media (TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter). Tag us in your post (@NationalParkTrust) and use #ParksToKids and #BuddyBison.
Discovering the Parts of a Flower With Buddy Bison
Parks such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Mount Rainer National Park (WA) boast some of the world’s most beautiful wildflowers. But there’s more to these blooms than meets the eye. With the help of Buddy Bison, learn about the parts of the White Avalanche lily. Then using real flowers from your backyard or neighborhood, perform a dissection at home to see the parts of a flower firsthand.
Buddy Bison's Frozen Fossil Dig
Join Buddy Bison and become a scientist for a day! Recreate a frozen fossil dig and make your own discoveries from home! Download the instructions below.
Think Like a Paleontologist With Buddy Bison
Looking only at fossils found in the earth, paleontologists have used science and their imaginations to figure out what dinosaurs might have looked like. In this activity, examine the fossils on the worksheet and then “think like a paleontologist”. Use your imagination to draw your own scientific illustrations.
Buddy Bison's Veggie Garden
Make the most of kitchen scraps by creating your own vegetable garden with Buddy Bison! Decorate with natural materials and learn about different seeds that will flourish on your windowsill or on your counter.
Check out these 10 Junior Ranger badges you can earn from home. It doesn’t matter what age you are, just “explore, learn, and protect” your national parks online and become an official Junior Ranger and earn your badges! From Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas to Point Reyes National Seashore in California, you can learn about history, night skies, or even dinosaurs!
Buddy Bison's Animals of National Parks Crossword Puzzle
This Buddy Bison crossword puzzle activity, designed for kids of all ages, showcases the variety of animals that inhabit national parks around the country! Use the clues and word bank to figure out which animals match the puzzle rows and columns. Then think about what the animals have in common (we’ve included a hint in the activity sheet).
Learning About the Food Web
Join our mascot Buddy Bison as you plot out food webs for Joshua Tree National Park and then for your neighborhood! Think about the unique role each animal plays in the ecosystem and their importance to the food web.
Buddy Bison Backyard Bingo
Check out Buddy Bison’s Backyard Bingo (say that three times fast!) that has 24 unique ways for you and your family to stay connected with the outdoors.
Think of this as a “choose your own” national park adventure experience. First, pick your park virtual tour. Second, print and color Buddy Bison based on the park you choose. Third, build your own park home for Buddy or write a comic strip based on his outdoor explorations.
Buddy Bison Coloring Sheet
Perfect for kids and adults alike! Use crayons, markers, or even a computer – just put your creative skills to the test and give Buddy an outfit to remember.
Leaf or Bark Rubbing
When leaves fall from the tree, it is a great time to look at them closely and make a great piece of art. Place a leaf or bark under the activity paper inside the square. Then rub the leaf or bark using your pencil or a crayon.
Listening to Nature
Nature never sleeps and is really noisy, but sometimes you have to slow down and quiet yourself before it can be heard. Listen to what is happening around you. Can you hear the call of a nearby bird or the rustling of leaves?
Design a Nature Collage
A great activity to do while in your backyard or neighborhood is to collect and bring home any interesting or unique pieces of nature. At home, use your collected materials, construction paper, and glue to create a one of a kind nature collage.
Backyard Scavenger Hunt
There are so many interesting things you can find in nature. When walking or hiking, make sure you stay quiet, look around your surroundings, and see what you can discover.
Find something in nature that really interests you. It could be an insect, plant, worm, flower, or any other object that you think is neat. Look at it closely; use a magnifying glass if you have one. Draw what you see and try to label its parts!