Sketchbook Detectives: Activities for exploring nature

Hands-on nature activities for kidsSummertime is the best time to test nature detective skills. The woods, streams, plants and animals provide all the intrigue you need for a day of exploring nature.

Recently a group of children ages 5-11 visited Matthaei Botanical Gardens for a Sketchbook Detectives program.

We started off telling the story of a young explorer-botanist named Linnea, with a goal of our guests setting off on a quest to find all the discoveries Linnea made in the story. Once the story was complete, off we went – with clipboards, pencils and adventure bag in tow!

Stopping on the bridge to watch turtles, tadpoles and lily pads bob in the water we took out our pencils and sketched what each of us saw.

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Ice cream in a bag

MOTT BLOG - ice cream bag promo imageIce cream is always a summer favorite for kids and adults alike.

If you’re looking for a variation on the usual ice cream indulgence, try out this fun recipe from Rebecca Wauldron, Executive Chef at Busch’s Fresh Food Markets to put a special hands-on twist on your next cool summer treat.

You can take even turn on some music to turn the shaking step into a mini dance party for your whole family!


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What’s inside of me? DIY anatomy projects for kids

Anatomy activities for kidsPlay allows children to express themselves in a way that is familiar to them. Here at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, our Child Life Specialists use something called medical play. Medical play allows children to have hands-on play experiences using real or pretend medical equipment and supplies. Using medical play techniques, our child life therapists help kids to work out (or “play” out) their feelings or anxieties regarding medical experiences. Medical play can also be an important way to help them understand their body and any treatments or procedures they may undergo.

But, you don’t need to be in the hospital to learn about your body. From skeletons to beating hearts, kids are curious about what’s under their skin, so let’s explore the human body this week with these DIY anatomy learning projects.

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DIY Rain Sticks

A fun and easy musical craft

DIY Rainstick ActivityMusic is a great addition to any day. Young children love to get in on the fun by singing and playing instruments. Here’s an easy-to-make craft project that will keep you and your child singing and dancing all day.


  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Aluminum foil or wax paper
  • Rubber bands or tape
  • Uncooked rice
  • Decoration items of choice!

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DIY Bottle Rocket

DIY Bottle RocketIt’s important to give kids lots of hands-on experiences, and this DIY activity is also great for piquing their curiosity about science!  Thanks to Goldie Blox for their permission to re-purpose their DIY Bottle Rocket activity idea, and be sure to scroll to the end to learn about this week’s Camp Little Victors giveaway from Goldie Blox!

** This is an activity for outdoors in a spacious area with close parent supervision! **


  • An empty water bottle
  • Baking soda
  • Toilet paper
  • A cork (Make sure it fits snugly into your bottle opening before getting started)

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8 quick tips for healthy and easy grocery shopping

Grocery shopping tipsGrocery shopping is a weekly necessity for most families, but there are several ways you can make grocery shopping easier…especially when shopping with kids in tow!

  • Plan ahead. Going to the store with a list makes shopping easy, quick and budget friendly. Mark specific items on your shopping list that your child can help pick out. This can keep them busy and help them learn to make smart food selection choices as well!

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