"Rainbow in a Box" is a great scavenger hunt that siblings or friends from a variety of ages can enjoy. (Adapted from The Siblings' Busy Book. You may remember the authors' visit to the museum in April.) First use different colored markers to draw a few 1/2-inch dots on the bottom of a shoe box. For older children you can write the color words. Then go on a nature walk to find something of each color. Tape what you find near the dot on the bottom of the box. You and your children may be surprised at how many colors are right in your own yard.This activity reinforces color recognition and involves visual discrimination, an important pre-reading skill.
For another fun outdoor activity involving balls and ramps, check out the "Balls and Ramps I" clip from the PBS Kids Curious George Video Page (which is loaded with videos great kids videos!) You don't need to go all the way to the playground though! Try making a ramp by putting something flat such as cardboard on a stack of books or over a small staircase. You can have the kids go around and collect different size balls, as well as non-ball items such as a soup can, an apple, or toys with wheels. They can even include some things that don't roll. Now have them explore how fast and far each item rolls and why some roll better than others. The kids won't know it, but they are actually building a foundation for learning physics. Don't be afraid to incorporate new vocabulary words such as friction, gravity, and inclined plane.
One of the Museum's newer exhibits in the Fetch Lab builds on this balls and ramps theme. It is similar to the "Balls and Ramps II" clip also from the PBS Kids Curious George Video Page. After checking out this exhibit at the Children's Museum, be sure to enjoy the outdoors in our Wild Place where you can climb the tree house, dig for dinosaur fossils, or put on wings and dance in the Butterfly Garden. Don't forget your picnic lunch!