CLEMSON – While COVID-19 may have halted in-person activities at the South Carolina Botanical Garden, families can still use information from the Garden as a resource to stay in touch with nature.

The South Carolina Botanical Garden has created activities for youth to learn about nature without leaving the safety of home.

The South Carolina Botanical Garden has created activities for youth to learn about nature without leaving the safety of home.
Image Credit: Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture

The Garden staff has created an array of online activities that can be done from the safety of people’s homes. Activities for Families at Home or in the Garden teach about bats, bugs, trees and more. Information about these activities can be found on the Youth and Family Programs page of the Garden’s website.

“We developed these materials after the Garden was shut down in early spring because of COVID-19,” said Sue Watts, educational program coordinator for the Garden. “We had to cancel all in-person programs and tours and are not sure what the situation will be in the fall. We want to ensure families have easily accessible materials they can share with their children. We want to continue to advocate for families to explore nature, even if they can’t do it with us in-person.”

The materials were created with elementary school students in mind, but the whole family can learn by participating in the projects, Watts said. The materials are interdisciplinary, covering science, history, and art, and compliment what children from grades K-12 learn in school.

Included in the material are activity sheets for a variety of animals including bats, cicadas, fireflies, dragonflies, ants and ladybugs.

“I created these activity sheets with a number of goals in mind,” Watts said. “The first section gives easily accessible facts about each animal covered. The second part contains links to short educational videos, online identification guides, citizen science projects, coloring and craft activities, and lists of books, all relating to the animal. Our goal is to get families outside to explore and appreciate nature and, then, care for it.”

Watts also has developed a South Carolina Trees Discovery packet and is developing a Water Habitats Discovery Guide. These projects are a combination of identification guides and other activities. In addition, she also is working on a Junior Native Plant Program curriculum for middle and high school students based on the South Carolina Native Plant Certificate Program for adults. The Native Plant Certificate Program is a collaboration between the Garden and the South Carolina Native Plant Society.

Joining Watts in creating these materials is Botanical Garden educator Allison Jones. Activities Jones created are Backyard Books: Bat Count, A Citizen Science Story Activity Packet, Making a Rain Gauge at Home and Backyard Books: Noisy Bird Sing-Along Activity Packet.

For more information about the South Carolina Botanical Garden, including online activities and other information, as well as when the Garden will open to visitors, go to  https://www.clemson.edu/public/scbg/.

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