Inspiring children to learn through creative play.
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Zoologist Camp Guide • Week 2

We're bringing camp home to you this summer with themed activities straight to your inbox. Enjoy a new guide each week as we explore select curriculum from each of our seven summer camps, recommended reads, and inspired videos.  Gather your materials, and let's get started...


  • Have fun!
  • Learn about insects and animals near your home
  • Build fine motor skills
  • Inspire curiosity in young children


  • Small clay pot
  • Smoothie straws
  • Jar candle
  • Milk carton
  • Dowel or chopstick
  • Craft sticks
  • Acrylic paint
  • Glue
  • Two empty toilet paper rolls
  • Twine


The amount of prep work required will depend upon the age of your child.  We encourage you to have your child do as much of the work as possible.  The learning takes place through the process.

#1. Insect Hotel

  1. Prepare a clay pot by placing foil in the bottom, covering the hole.
  2. Cut straws to fit the height of the clay pot and use string to bundle the straw bunches.
  3. Melt a candle in the microwave and pour the melted contents into the bottom of the clay pot.
  4. Place the straw bundles into the pot, in the warm wax.
  5. Let the wax cool to harden and hold the straws in place.
  6. Place the clay pot on its side in your yard.
  7. Observe the insects that take up residence in your Insect Hotel.

#2. Bird House

Get creative making a bird house for your yard.  Brainstorm supplies you will need.  We have provided a few suggestions.  

  • House:  Utilize a cardboard or plastic milk carton.  Be sure to make a golf ball-sized hole for your bird to fit in while also keeping out predators.
  • Perch:  A chopstick, stick, or dowel through the house and just under the hole provide  a place for your bird to sit both inside and outside the house.
  • A method for hanging:  Twine is ideal.  Can you find a spot where a squirrel will not get to it?
  • Roof and decoration:  Paint your house.  You can also glue craft sticks or other materials to create a roof, decorate the door, and make a beautiful house for your new bird friends.    

#3. Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

  1. Construct binoculars from two empty toilet paper rolls and twine.
  2. Secure this printout on a clipboard or notebook to prepare for your walk.  Check off items as you observe them.
  3. Walk through your neighborhood or make a special trip to a park.  Enjoy your scavenger hunt together!
  4. Draw pictures of the things you observed on your outing.

Older Children Accommodations

  • Use real binoculars.
  • Have your child create a customized scavenger hunt.
  • Use a camera or phone to document items found.

#4. Nature Bingo

Social Distancing Activity

  1. Create a bingo card game for your neighbor using the observations on your scavenger hunt.
  2. Invite the neighbor to fill out the card on his or her own nature walks.
  3. Promise a prize for your neighbor completing the card.  

#5. Pet Show and Tell

Social Distancing Activity

  1. Call a friend or family member using a video platform.
  2. Pretend you are conducting a virtual tour of a zoo.
  3. Tell your audience about your pet or an animal or insect that you can find in your yard.  
  4. Prepare for the call by selecting your zookeeper outfit and planning the location you will conduct the call.
  5. Have five facts prepared to tell your audience about the animal you are sharing with them.  Be ready to answer questions from your audience.
  6. Upload a picture to your social media, and tag Gilbert House to let us know which animal you highlighted.

Older Children Accommodations

  • Learn ten facts about the selected animal, including the classification.

Book of Bones by Gabrielle Balkan

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming

Animals of a Bygone Era by Mäja Safström

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério

Oregon Zoo, Bringing the Zoo to You

San Diego Zoo Live Cam

National Zoo Web Cam

Oregon Coast Aquarium Live Cam

Web Cam Activity Suggestions

Photo credits and resources:  TEACH Beside Me, Leap Frog, Ducksters

Gilbert House Children's Museum

116 Marion St NE Salem, OR 97301