University of Illinois Extension is offering free take-home kits. These kits are developed for children and provide teachers, parents, and caregivers an easy way to engage children in meaningful learning experiences about the world around them. Four new kits are offered each quarter and contain materials, complete instructions, and tips for engaging students in the activities. The kits are developed by Extension professionals as well as Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers.
Order your kits online. Pick up is available at your local Extension office in Henderson, Knox, McDonough, and Warren counties. Quantities for the take-home kits are limited. For questions or to learn more, contact Wendy Ferguson, horticulture program coordinator.
This Quarter's Kits - January 18 - March 31
Prior activities that can be done from home:
Learn the parts of an insect through this quick and fun craft project. For ages PreK - 3rd grade.
Collect leaves then discover their similarities and differences by making leaf rubbings. For ages PreK - 4th grade.
Collect a rainbow of colorful leaves and learn why leaves change colors. Use your collected materials to make a costume leaf mask just in time for Halloween. For all ages.
Learn a plant's life cycle by growing your own microgreens and then harvest them for a tasty salad. For ages PreK - 3rd grade.
Plant your own marigold and then observe who visits the flowers. Participate in a citizen science project collecting data on pollinators. For all ages.
Conduct a series of experiments with leaves to find out if plants breathe. Learn about the process of transpiration and the relationship between plants and humans breathing. For all ages.
Explore and observe just like Lewis & Clark! Record what you see in your very own handmade nature journal. For all ages.
Have you ever really looked at a pine cone? Explore the parts of the pine cone and then conduct "experiments" to learn how water and air affect them. For ages PreK - 4th grade.
Learn the different types of roots and how the plant uses them. Make your own "grass head" to study the roots up close, and just have fun giving your grass head a haircut. For all ages.
How do bubbles form? What causes them to pop? Explore the world of bubbles. Make your own funky shaped wands, try to blow the biggest bubbles, and poke them without popping them. For all ages.
Snow piling up outside? Go and explore with this kit filled with cool experiments. Then warm up inside and make your own 3-D snowflake. For all ages.
Learn how spiders are different than insects and how they help the environment. Create your own spider out of a pinecone. For ages PreK - 3rd grade.
Make your own rain gauge and anemometer to record your local weather. Keep track of conditions in your journal to learn about climate versus weather. *This kit contains a straight pin and is not recommended for small children. For ages 4th grade and up.
Learn all about seeds and what they need to grow by making your own seed balls with flower seeds (sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos). Then plant them in your own garden or container, sit back and watch the magic. For all ages.
Learn all about buoyancy by building your own boat made out of recycled materials. Experiment with other items to see if they float or sink. For ages PreK - 3rd grade.
Learn what birds stay in your community during the winter by making an easy suet cake feeder. Hang it up and then document who visits. *Adult supervision is needed due to the use of a stove or microwave. For all ages.
Find out how to support Monarch butterflies by growing milkweed plants. Create your own mini-greenhouse out of a water bottle. For all ages.
Learn the different tree shapes by making your own "winter wonderland" using collected sticks, glue, and paint. For ages PreK - 3rd grade.