Outdoor Science and STEM | Ecosystems, Landforms, Matter, Soil, and Plants

Grade Levels
3rd - 5th
Formats Included
  • PDF
150 pages
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Head outside to explore the science in the world around you for scavenger hunts, guided walks, and explorations! Learn about matter, soil, erosion, landforms, the water cycle, natural resources, shadows, ecosystems, plants, seeds, and animals. Out the Door to Explore: Full STEAM Ahead contains 35 science activities that can be done outside or by using natural materials inside.

What is Included?

  • 35 science activities
  • 2 bonus scavenger hunts
  • TEKS alignment information
  • NGSS alignment information
  • materials lists
  • suggestions and directions
  • discussion questions
  • notebook ideas
  • photographs and examples
  • optional printables

Download the preview for a FREE Back to School Science Scavenger Hunt.

35 Science Activities

Physical Science

  1. Properties of Nature: Observe and measure the physical properties of natural objects.
  2. Floating Seeds, Sinking Rocks: Observe the relative density, buoyancy, and absorbency of natural objects.
  3. Build a Raft: Construct a raft using natural materials that will hold the stone for 1 minute.
  4. Mud Stew: Use the tools available to separate a mud stew mixture.
  5. Beaches: Make and separate mixtures you would find at the beach.
  6. Matter Scavenger Hunt: Determine which recyclable and trash items meet the physical properties listed in a table.
  7. Rolling, Rolling, Rolling: Build a course for a small ball to travel through for the longest amount of time.
  8. Where am I?: Build a compass using a needle, a leaf, and some water.
  9. Camouflage Periscope: Build a periscope with camouflage that would help you observe an animal.

Earth Science

  1. Earth’s Systems Scavenger Hunt: Find examples of Earth's systems and their interactions (biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.)
  2. Properties of Soil: Make observations about different types of soil (optional soil testing.)
  3. Retention of Water in Soil: Test four types of soil for their ability to retain water.
  4. Landform Replicas: Build models of landforms using natural materials.
  5. Evidence of Slow Changes: Go on a focused nature walk to find examples of slow changes to Earth's surface.
  6. Slow Changes Scavenger Hunt: Search for specific examples of weathering, erosion, and deposition.
  7. Erosion and Landscapes: Design an investigation to test the effect of different landscapes on the amount of soil erosion.
  8. Water Cycle Walk: Go on a focused nature walk to find evidence of the water cycle.
  9. Resource Walk: Go on a focused nature walk to find examples of human-made and natural resources.
  10. Weather Report: Collect weather data, analyze trends, and predict next week's weather.
  11. Winter Science Scavenger Hunt: Search for specific examples of science topics related to winter.
  12. Sun-Earth-Moon Model: Find objects to construct a model of the Sun-Earth-Moon system.
  13. Changing Shadows: Build a structure and track the changes to its shadow throughout the day.

Life Science

  1. Ecosystem Components: Observe and classify the components of an ecosystem as living or nonliving.
  2. In the Zone: Observe, compare, and contrast organisms' environments on your school's campus.
  3. Ecosystem Scavenger Hunt: Search for specific examples of living organisms interacting with living and nonliving components of their environments.
  4. Level Up Ecosystems: Explore the components of the population, community, and ecosystem of an individual organism.
  5. A Real Food Web: Draw a food web for an observed ecosystem.
  6. Fossil Dig: Dig up and analyze fossils to support a claim that landscapes change over time.
  7. Photosynthesis Model: Use natural materials to build a model to represent photosynthesis.
  8. Build a Nest: Use natural materials to construct a bird's nest.
  9. A Bug’s Life: Observe how a colony of ants interact with each other and their environment.
  10. Flower Dissection: Dissect a flower and identify the structures that help it reproduce.
  11. Plant Structures: Observe four different plants, describe their environments, and identify structures for survival and their functions.
  12. How Seeds Move: Observe seeds and determine how they move.
  13. Inheritance Scavenger Hunt: Search for specific examples of inherited traits, instincts, acquired traits, and learned behaviors.

Bonus Scavenger Hunts

  1. Back to School Scavenger Hunt: Search for specific examples of science concepts-- includes 3 levels!
  2. Science Review Scavenger Hunt: Search for specific examples of science to wrap up the school year-- includes 3 levels!

Your School's Environment

This resource includes ideas that can work for classrooms in different environments, climates, and settings. Some activities are for outdoors only; some can be completed inside. Some have optional printables.

Whether or not a school has access to a natural utopia right outside the doors, we can provide students with opportunities to be outdoors or work with natural materials in the classroom.

Using natural materials requires no access to expensive programs or devices. Go for a walk, take a trip to the craft store, or shop in bulk on Amazon.

I believe in your ability to adapt and inspire!

Alignment Information

I recommend looking at all of the activities, not just those that are specific to your grade level’s standards. You might be inspired to put your own spin on an activity!

I included alignment guides for just NGSS and the Texas TEKS because they apply to the majority of teachers who use my materials. I think teachers in any location will find it easy to pick and choose the activities that will work best to help them teach their unique science standards.

TEKS: There are specifically 22 activities for the 3rd grade, 26 activities for 4th grade, and 30 activities for the 5th grade. Other activities might be adapted or used as inspiration!

NGSS: There are specifically 7 activities for 3rd grade, 11 activities for 4th grade, and 21 activities for 5th grade. Other activities might be adapted or used as inspiration!

Planning Your Units

Some of the activities might be best to introduce new material to your class. Other activities may be the main focus of your unit. Perhaps you’ll use some as a quick engagement activity.

Use your professional judgment to determine how the activities can be integrated into your unit planning and how they might work with the 5E Model or other curriculum model your campus follows.


I’m here to connect standards-based learning with engagement and to connect college and career readiness with the natural world. Let’s work together to help students explore, learn, and experience science.

  • Are you ready for more?
  • Do you want to challenge yourself and your students?
  • Do you want to teach real-world, standards-based science?
  • Do understand the value of time spent outdoors?
  • Do you want to make a difference?

We can build on the sense of wonder children are all born with. This resource is packed full of ideas to help you get started or take your instruction one step further.

Let’s do this!


Product Notes:

  1. Download the preview for a FREE Back to School Science Scavenger Hunt and more information.
  2. This file is not editable and is in PDF format.
  3. This file is included in the 4th Grade Science Bundle {Texas Edition} and 5th Grade Science Bundle {Texas Edition}.
Total Pages
150 pages
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