Cameras and Camping: Teaching Science the Worry Free Way

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Science worksheets suck! Most kids, and probably most parents, think they are boring. I’m talking about the kind of worksheets where you read through a dull but necessary textbook all the while filling in the answers. Kids need to learn science, so what is a parent supposed to do? Well, unfortunately, those worksheets are the most common way to teach it, even in the classroom. I suppose they do convey information, but do the kids really experience science that way? Do those worksheets inspire a love for science?

Ditch Those Worksheets

Next time you need to teach a science lesson wad up those worksheets and throw them away! OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme. I do have an idea though. Get your kids out into nature and let them see God’s work up close and live! I bet your kids will appreciate science if it includes a trip to the park or better yet, a camping trip.

My daughter was drawn to taking photos of plants and flowers. This one is of a dewberry flower that is bigger than the rest of the tiny little plant..

Camping, Cameras and Computers

Kids love technology. Mine drive me crazy, always sneaking off with my phone and taking pictures. Why not use their obsession with technology, and their love of playing outdoors, to teach them a little bit of science. The next time you need to teach a unit in science, try this five step process:

  • Co camping or take a trip to a park or nature area or even a museum.
  • Give your kids a camera.
  • Tell them that you want them to take pictures of everything related to your subject, and turn ’em loose.
  • When you get home, have them research the content in their photos.
  • Have them report their findings. They can write a report, conduct an experiment, or yes, even fill out a worksheet (maybe even one that you have designed).
Prairie Verbena

A Recent Example

My family went camping during spring break. One day, while on a hike, I gave my smart phone to my 7 yr. old daughter and told her to photograph whatever she wanted. She did a great job and took some beautiful pictures.

Today, we sat down and I had her look up the plants that she took pictures of that day. Her task was to identify the plants and learn their names. Next time we go on a hike, I will point out these plants and see if she can identify them.

I realize this was a very simple task, but my daughter is learning science, in particular, basic botany. Plus, she’s having fun doing it! This is a perfect example of “worry free homeschooling.” The structure is there, but it is not rigid, and learning is happening. Be honest, is she going to learn more by doing a worksheet from a book? I don’t think so!


Simple or Involved

Of course, the example I gave is very simple, but that’s because my daughter is a 7 yr. old first grader. You can teach almost any subject in science while camping or hiking and using a camera, You can utilize their pictures in completing the following tasks:

  • You can have your kids create a photo log.
  • Construct experiments using data collected by taking pictures while on a hike.
  • Your kids can use their pictures to create their own learning materials. For example, The Life Cycle of a Dewberry.
  • Taxonomy worksheets and more…

The point is, you can design science curriculum using a camera and the great outdoors, at almost every level!

Looking up Dewberry information online!

And Not Just Botany

You can also teach just about any category of science by giving a camera to your kids and taking them camping or on a hike, here are just a few:

  • Entomology
  • Zoology
  • Microbiology
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Physics
  • Meteorology
  • and more…

Yes, I still teach science to my kids using textbook based worksheets, but only when I have to. I much prefer to get my kids outside with a camera, a microscope or even a telescope.

As a followup to this project, I did create a handy worksheet for my daughter to fill in about what she had learned about wildflowers. This is a flexible worksheet that could be used by you and your kids to study the wildflowers in your area. Here is a little snapshot of the first page, but the whole worksheet is yours to download for free! Just click the photo below for your copy!!!

I’m in the process of creating a whole collection of “Science & Photography” lesson plans and worksheets. I’ll be sharing them with you as soon as I have tested them on my guinea pigs brilliant children!

Until then be sure to try out our Wildflower Worksheet and let me know what you and your kids think about the project. Every lesson has room for improvement and I would love your feedback.

Brian at Daddy Go To Timeout

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