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Make an outdoor science lab

This activity is fun and mostly free for both your family and yourself.

Here is a photo of my daughter’s new outdoor science (or potions, as she calls it) lab. It doesn’t look new, does it? That’s because it’s made out of a sawed off piece of my desk. She loves it, though, and we have been playing with it for weeks now that I’ve rearranged my office and given her lots to experiment with.

Not only does she have all of my old expired herbs (you can tell when your herbs need replenishing by smelling them, by the way; if there’s no scent or a weak scent, you generally need new herbs!), she also has plenty of bottles, bowls, spoons, marbles, and even two-liter bottles. She also has lots of things from our yard, like twigs, rocks and acorns.

It’s super easy to make this lab! You can use anything you have around your house. If you have a spare shelf, Yaffa blocks, or even some shoeboxes you can duct tape together and stack in a dry place, that will work! Just use whatever you’ve got around the house.

In addition to the things I’ve used, you can use anything else you like, as well. Maybe you have some plastic cups or test tubes to supply your child with, or old animal dishes. Old utensils work well, as do buckets, boxes, egg cartons, and produce containers, such as strawberry trays.

Water is a great addition if your lab is waterproof! You can supply containers with lids so bugs don’t get trapped in your water sources (we use an empty tea jug with a screw-on lid), or a simple watering can to bring back and forth from inside the house. If you do this, you may want to enforce some kind of limit to the number of trips per day; my daughter would use endless water if she could! Another good idea is to keep a rain bucket of water out to catch rain for your child’s use. We do this, too. In fact, during heavy rainfall (which we are so grateful for after this summer’s drought!) she even gets water out of the flower pots.

My daughter likes to cook at her lab sometimes, too, so we keep a couple of lidded bowls there. You can just reuse any cream cheese, butter, or yogurt containers for this. They are perfect for it! I also supplied her with a few “dissection” trays; though we do not partake in vivisection, they came free with her synthetic owl pellet kit and we had plenty left over for her to use.