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7 Ways to add some forest science activities to your camping vacation

July 18, 2016 3 min read

Whether your idea of camping is in a tent, an RV, or in a hotel - these seven forest science ideas will add a bit of learning to your summer camping trip!

Last month, I shared with you all 7 ideas for adding science to your beach vacation, and now I want to help out those of you head into the woods for your vacation.

These seven ideas will help you to learn about science as you enjoying your camping trip.

7 Ways to add some Forest Science Activities to your Camping Vacation

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These 7 forest science ideas will add a bit of science to your camping vacation!

To do all of these activities, you will need a backpack, a magnifying glass, a pencil, and a notebook!

#1 - Look under rocks.

Out in the woods, invertebrates tend to collect under rocks. The moisture level is generally higher and it’s quite a bit safer under a rock!

Find a rock that looks like it has been undisturbed for a while. Look around in the nearby bushes and tap on the rock once to make sure there are no snakes nearby. Then, flip it over to see what you find.

Hopefully, you’ll find a mess of worms, beetles, slugs, and more to observe! Use the magnifying glass to see the creatures up close and look for any eggs that they might have laid. Then, take a moment to draw what you see in a notebook.

#2 - Start a rock collection

Speaking of rocks, your camping vacation is a perfect time to start a rock collection! As you explore the surroundings, look for new-to-you or interesting rocks to collect.

Then, once you are back at your campsite, look them up on and try to identify what rocks you have found. If you want to take it a step further, number each rock and then write a sentence or two about them in your notebook.

#3 - Take a hike.

The forest is a perfect place to take a long walk during the summer. The shade from the trees will keep the temperature down, which is always a plus.

As you walk along, look for animal evidence, such as tracks or scat. And be sure to spend some time trying to identify trees and wildflowers that you know. You can also take pictures or leaf rubbings of the ones you don’t know so that you can identify them later.

#4 - Observe moss.

As you walk through the forest, be on the lookout for clumps of moss. Moss typically grows in shady, damp areas.

Observe the moss with your magnifying glass and then use a stick or flat rock to dig up a small chunk. Gently wipe away the dirt and observe the rhizoids that anchor the moss to the ground. Then, place the chunk back where you found it and gently press to reattach the simple plant.

While you are in the woods, you can draw a sketch of the moss in your notebook. Then, you can label the parts as you sit around the campfire later that night.

#5 - Find a decomposer.

As plants and animals die in the forest, decomposers take care of their remains. To find these decomposers, you can look under a fallen log or dig a bit in an old pile of leaves.

You might find termites and worms, both of which break down dead plants into organic material new plants can use for food. If you find a decomposer, observe the creatures behave and make notes in your notebook.

#6 - Sit and listen.

Sometimes we just need to slow down and listen to what is really going on around us.

As you are out at your campsite, take 10 or 15 minutes to sit on a rock. Don’t say a single word, just listen to the sounds of the forest.

You’ll be amazed at how many birds and squirrels you are able to observe, just by listening to them first!

#7 - Examine tree bark.

Tree bark is absolutely fascinating stuff! It acts like skin for a tree, complete with pores called lenticels. Each species of tree has its own unique bark pattern, so you can definitely use it to identify the trees.

Find a tree nearby and then use your magnifying glass to take a closer look at the bark. You can use your pencil to take a rubbing of the tree bark on a sheet in your notebook. Be sure to write down the type of tree it is on the page, so you’ll know what to look for the next time!

Wrapping it Up

I hope you will have a fantastic time around the campfire this summer, recalling stories of your hikes as you roast marshmallows!

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