At-home activities from virtual Summer Camp

This year’s Summer Camp looked very different from previous summers. Each week, we shared a weekly newsletter with themed activities to do at home, and we’ve compiled all of them here for your Jr. Active Badgers to enjoy (virtually):

Rock & Roll

  • Try Crystal Cave, an online game created by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) here at UW-Madison. The MRSEC also has lesson plans for grades K-8 if your camper has more interest in rocks and minerals. If you are looking for more science games, we recommend Field Day Learning Games or Brainpop’s GameUp Directory.
  • Campers of all ages can get creative by making their own at-home instruments. Here is a list of 52 examples to get you started, but the possibilities are endless. Videos or photos of your new at-home band are highly encouraged!

Making Waves

  • Watch this livestream of Lake Mendota from campus. The Center of Limnology on campus studies lakes and is answering kids’ questions. Read their weekly blog for answers or submit some of your own. Their idea is simple: “kids have questions and we have scientists with answers.” If you have a lake-loving camper, we recommend checking out their Facebook page and website.
  • Boats go well with lakes, and we want to see our campers build their own! This article includes materials that you can test out, but you can use anything you have at home. The website Science Sparks has hundreds of other free science experiments for you to try as well.

Animal Adventures

  • Henry Vilas Zoo has a wide variety of animal activities for you to do at home. From zookeeper chats, tours of the zoo with Thelma the Turtle, animal arts and crafts and more! You can check out all of their activities here. Bonus: the zoo is now open to the public! Learn more here.
  • The Lakeshore Preserve on UW’s campus is home to more than 70 types of birds, and the greater Madison community has even more. Birding is a great way to get outside with your camper, move your body, and learn about your natural surroundings. Check out this article from the Audubon Society on how to get kids birding.

Stars & Stripes

  • NASA and Google have come together to give you a front row seat to Mars, also known as the “Red Planet”. The Curiosity Rover traveled 352 million miles to land on Mars for a mission, and now you can see Mars right on your computer using this virtual reality link.
  • If you have a future astronaut in your house, NASA STEM @ Home has collected hundreds of activities. From crafts to computer games and everything in between!

 Garden Games

  • At Allen Centennial Garden, you can follow a re-imagined walking path to explore the all the latest blooms. For more information and to make a reservation, visit their website.
  • Flower pressing is a simple craft that you can do with your camper. All you need are flowers, newspaper, a book, and some heavy items like canned food. Check out this step-by-step guide from PBS.
  • The Currie Lab at UW-Madison studies many insects and their environments including leaf cutter ants. They have developed a screen-free game that focuses on the true life adventures of leaf-cutter ants. You can download the games and learn more about these incredible insects here.

On The Terrace

  • Wheelhouse Studios has awesome guides for at-home art. One of our favorites is their paper weaving activity. All you need is paper, scissors, and something to color with.
  • Paddling around Lake Mendota is one of our favorite parts of camp. If you’re looking to get out on the water, check out Destination Madison’s guide to boat rentals. If getting out and paddling isn’t your thing – check out these virtual videos to explore the outdoors from the comfort of your home.
  • The Terrace has begun to reopen at limited capacity by reservation. For more information and to make a reservation, check on their website here.


  • The Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin have created numerous cow-themed activities from virtual farm tours to the Cheesecyclopedia where older kids can learn everything about cheese. Check out their resources here.
  • Yoga Ed’s YouTube channel provides kids and teens with yoga and mindfulness videos. They organize their videos based on age and have recently added trauma-sensitive yoga classes in addition to their adventure-based videos.
  • If more active movement is more your camper’s style, check out the Les Mills Born to Move series. These high energy videos are organized by age and style. They have free classes for ages 2 to teen.
  • Movement can also mean moving around your town or backyard. These map reading activities can get you camper up and moving while teaching important skills. Our favorite activity is creating a treasure hunt map in your backyard or a nearby park.


  • Backyard Olympic games can be an alternative to more traditional, organized youth sports. From creating team uniforms to a full list of games to play, this article has you covered from start to finish.
  • If you’re looking for more information about the Olympics, including kid-friendly history and crafts, check out this website. They have activities for every summer Olympic sport offered.
  • And if you’re looking for fun and easy games to round out your Olympic schedule (or play any time of year), these minute to win it games are awesome! Most of them use basic household items and can be adapted for kids and adults.

Growing Community

  • Green thumb or not, growing a potato is a simple way to get your campers interested in plants. This article provides step-by-step directions to grow white and sweet potatoes – and even avocados! All you need is a potato, some water, and toothpicks.
  • Did you know Wisconsin grows more than half of the world’s cranberries? Check out this virtual reality of a cranberry farm and other educational resources to learn all about Wisconsin staple.

Lights & Sirens

  • If you have campers at home who have a love of fire trucks, check out a few fun facts like why fire trucks are red or what other colors are used for fire trucks today.
  • The UW–Madison Physics department has created a ton of at-home physics activities. One of our favorites is measuring the speed of light! All you need is a microwave, some mini-marshmallows, and a ruler.
  • Watch Officer Nicki Zautner as she discusses what it’s like to be a K9 handler and how K9 Officer Kobalt helps keep our community safe. (Please note: Officer Kobalt is a K9 in the UWPD Narcotics unit.)

Want more at-home activities for Jr. Active Badgers? Click here to join our Youth Programs Facebook Group!