FUN things everyone can do from home
Adventure NY is going virtual! As part of #AdventureAtHome, we’ll be bringing you updated content for inspiration on how to enjoy the outdoors close to home. Check back each month for new content. Be sure to sign up for Find Your Adventure (the Camping, Wildlife Viewing, and Hiking) email newsletter as well.
Need ideas of things to do outside? In celebration of DEC’s 50th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of 50 outdoor activities for all ages and levels. Check out the Fall 2020 edition of Conservationist for Kids to find new ways to get outside.
Animals of The Florida Everglades – take a vacation from CNY by learning about animals that are native to Florida!
The Florida Everglades is home to a variety of species that thrive in warm, wet climates. As one of the largest subtropical areas of wilderness in the United States, it contains a high concentration of endangered and threatened species of mammals, reptiles, and fish. Many of these species are major tourist attractions because they have become so endangered that the only place they can be found is Everglades National Park.
The Florida panther is the only cougar found east of the Mississippi, thanks to European settlers destroying their habitats when they started building colonies in the 1600s. Even though the panther is Florida’s official state animal, it is possibly one of the most endangered mammals in the country, with fewer than 200 still alive. The biggest reason why this species has become so endangered continues to be that their habitat is constantly diminishing. They select habitats based on where their prey is most vulnerable, and they require large areas of land with dense vegetation to meet all their needs.
Florida panthers are carnivores that primarily eat white-tailed deer, wild hogs, and smaller mammals like raccoons, armadillos, and rabbits. Because of the rapid urbanization of their habitats, they have also been known to eat unsecured livestock and pets.
- Florida Panther and its Habitat: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides details about the Florida panther and where it lives.
- Florida Panther: Defenders of Wildlife go into detail about threats to the Florida panther and why their numbers are dwindling.
- Florida Panther Facts: This page has details on what is being done to save the Florida panthers and how you can do your part to save the panthers, too.
WEST INDIAN MANATEE
West Indian manatees are large gray and brown aquatic mammals that are sometimes known as sea cows. They have no natural enemies and spend their days eating, sleeping, and traveling around. They are often found in shallow water because even though they live in water, they frequently have to come up to the surface for air. West Indian manatees are herbivores that eat 15% of their body weight every day in vegetation that grows near the edge of the water. That can be up to 150 pounds of food a day!
West Indian manatees are legally protected, but habitat destruction, collisions with boats, and accidental captures by fisheries do aid in the depletion of the manatee population. Scientists believe that the West Indian manatee is vulnerable to extinction; in fact, it is extinct in some regions the species used to live in. This is why it is important to carefully manage activities that are a threat to this species, so it doesn’t go extinct everywhere.
- West Indian Manatee: The National Wildlife Federation details the diet, characteristics, and conservation facts about the West Indian manatee.
- Marine Mammals: West Indian Manatee: Find fun facts and videos about manatees here.
- National Geographic: West Indian Manatees: View a slideshow of pictures and facts about the West Indian manatee.
- Marine Life: West Indian Manatees: Read marine research on the conservation and lifestyles of the West Indian manatee.
The American alligator is found in the United States in freshwater, slow-moving rivers, swamps, marshes, and lakes from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas. They are carnivorous, with strong jaws that can crack a tough turtle shell and sharp teeth to seize and hold their prey. If you’ve ever seen an American alligator out of the water, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of their sharp teeth, since on a hot summer day, they can be seen on the banks of water basking in the sun with their mouths open. They are cold-blooded, so they cannot regulate their own body temperature: When they warm themselves in the sun, they need to open their mouths to cool themselves off so they don’t get too hot.
At one point, hunters brought the American alligator almost to extinction. They were labeled an endangered species when there were fewer than 200 alligators left, and because of this protection as well as tight regulation of alligator hunting, they have made an amazing recovery and are no longer considered an endangered species.
- American Alligator: The Smithsonian gives detailed information about the habitat, habits, and lifestyle of the American alligator.
- Species Profile: American Alligator: Find pictures and research from the Savannah River Ecology Lab about the American alligator here.
- Armored Giants: The American Alligator: The San Diego Zoo has a page dedicated to facts about the alligator.
LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE
The leatherback sea turtle is the largest species of turtle in the world and the only species of sea turtle that doesn’t have scales and a hard shell. They are actually named for their tough, rubbery skin, which places them in a different taxonomic family than the other species of sea turtles in the world. Also unlike other sea turtle species, leatherbacks do not have crushing chewing plates; they have tooth-like cusps and sharp-edged jaws that help them catch soft-bodied ocean prey like jellyfish and salps.
These turtles are considered endangered and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They face threats both on beaches and in marine environments due to the harvesting of eggs and adults as well as accidental capture in fishing gear.
- Leatherback Turtle: The NOAA Fisheries website has fun facts and details about the leatherback sea turtle and its conservation.
- Leatherback Sea Turtles: Learn more about leatherback sea turtles here, including their habitat, diet, threats, and more.
- Leatherback Sea Turtle (Atlantic Population): See pictures and details about the population of the leatherback sea turtle and find out how you can help if you think one may be in danger.
The Everglade snail kite is a mid-sized raptor that feeds exclusively on apple snails, which they find and capture near the surface of the water. They are able to hunt for these snails by flying slowly over lake shores and marshes and then using their feet to grab the snails. The snail kites eat the apple snails by using their unique curved bill to pluck the snails out of their shells.
The Everglade snail kite is protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Florida Endangered Species Rule, which recommends staying at least 500 feet away from areas marked as an active snail kite nest.
- Snail Kite Identification: Pictures and details from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology can help you learn how to identify a snail kite.
- Everglade Snail Kite: Read a brief overview of what the Everglade snail kite is and how its population has declined.
- Everglade Snail Kite: Learn about the behavior and appearance of the snail kite.
Marsh rabbits are found in lowland areas near freshwater marshes and estuaries. They are semi-aquatic and require vegetation near water. What distinguishes them from all other cottontail rabbits is the dark color of the underside of their tail. Marsh rabbits also have sparse amounts of fur and have long toenails on their hind feet.
Lower Key marsh rabbits are endangered because of habitat fragmentation. Conservation efforts have been made to reintroduce some species of marsh rabbits to help redistribute them throughout the Lower Florida Keys.
- Animal Diversity: Sylvilagus Palustris: Read a detailed profile of the marsh rabbit courtesy of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
- Wild Florida: Marsh Rabbit: This page outlines where marsh rabbits can be found and what they look like.
If you’ve ever heard the common rhyme “red touching yellow can kill a fellow, red touching black is a friend of Jack,” it might help you differentiate between different types of snakes! Coral snakes have red and black blocks of color separated by yellow bands, while scarlet king snakes have similar colors but do not have the same venomous bite. Coral snakes do have a powerful neurotoxin, but they are not as dangerous as other venomous snakes because they have short fangs and a reclusive nature; they are more reluctant to bite than other species of snakes.
Coral snakes live in Florida and can also be found in southeastern North Carolina, parts of Texas, and parts of northeastern Mexico. They are usually found under debris and in trunks of trees and will live in a variety of habitats, from dry areas to swamps.
- Micrurus Fulvius: The Coral Snake: The Florida Museum uses pictures and diagrams of the venomous snake to describe its size and colors and how to watch out for it.
- Coral Snakes: Brightly Banded and Highly Venomous: How Stuff Works details what coral snakes eat and how venomous they truly are.
- Coral Snake: Read a quick guide to facts and characteristics of the coral snake.
Alligator gars are prehistoric fish that have a head and snout that resemble that of an alligator. They have a wide mouth with two rows of teeth that line their jaws and scales that are shaped like diamonds and are just as hard as them. These fish are usually found in the southeastern United States in freshwater lakes and rivers with warm water and low oxygen levels, since they can diffuse the oxygen they receive from air through the tissues of their swim bladder.
Alligator gars were considered a nuisance species for years and thought to be detrimental to sport fisheries, so they were targeted by state and federal authorities up until the past decade, when there has been a more focused emphasis on the importance of these fish to their ecosystem.
- Alligator Gar (Atractosteus Spatula): This page provides a detailed overview of the history and habitat of the alligator gar.
- Alligator Gar: A quick overview of the habitat and behavior of the alligator gar can be found here.
- Alligator Gar: Florida’sMonster Fish: Untamed Science discusses this ancient fish and its traits.
Websites with Virtual Programs and Entertainment:
Fayetteville Free Library: https://www.fflib.org/
Manlius Library: http://manliuslibrary.org/
Liverpool Public Library: https://lpl.org/
Everson Museum: https://www.everson.org/
Painting with a Twist: https://www.paintingwithatwist.com/
Onondaga County Public Libraries: https://www.onlib.org/
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute: https://www.mwpai.org/
At Home with Symphoria: https://cnyarts.org/events/view/at-home-with-symphoria18498
Onondaga Historical Association: https://www.cnyhistory.org/
Gardening for Beginners:
Baltimore Woods Nature Center: https://baltimorewoods.org/event/virtual-gardening-for-kids/
Onondaga County Parks: https://www.onondagacountyparks.com/
New York State Parks: https://parks.ny.gov/
Parks & Trails of New York: https://www.ptny.org/
Staying active safely:
Free Movies Online: https://www.crackle.com/movies
Comedy Central: http://www.cc.com/
Zoos & Aquariums:
Monterey Bay Aquarium – 10 different live cams to choose from!
Smithsonian’s National Zoo – 4 cams
San Diego Zoo – 11 cams!
Georgia Aquarium – 5 cams
Houston Zoo – 6 cams
Kansas City Zoo – 4 cams
Animals in the wild:
U.S. Department of the Interior – 4 wildlife cams
Audubon – 10 wildlife web cams
National Park Service – bear cams, ocean cams, and bald eagles nest cams!
Bird Watching HQ: 7 cameras from around the world!
The Cornell Lab – birdfeeders and nests
Viewbirds.com – several birdfeeder web cams from around the world!
Earth Cam – various zoos, aquariums, parks, and wildlife
Explore Live Cams – A great selection!
Museums (UPDATED 6/9/20):
Travel & Leisure – 12 famous museums
Mental Floss – 12 world-class museums
Washington Post – 12 historic sites!
Insider.com – 22 destinations!
Refinery 29 – museums, graffiti, and nature walks!
NEW Tour Hawaii
Here are more fun ideas to do at home!
Good Housekeeping – over 50 ideas!
My Domaine – over 90 ideas!
Big Seven Travel – 7 great ideas!
Working Mum – Activities for kids!
National Geographic – Keeping kids amused
The Guardian – helpful hints for everyone
Activities – No Supplies Needed
- Tell stories
- Tell exaggerated “stories” of the “old days” to entertain
- Put on mini plays or skits. Have individuals and staff act out different characters
- Play “Story Building” – one person starts the story and then the others add to it in turn
- Share secrets, most embarrassing moments, wishes, and/or dreams
- Make up different dances or dance to known songs (i.e. the hokie-pokie). Have a dance contest
- Play “Name That Tune.” One person hums a tune or says a line of a song and the others try to guess what the song is.
- Play “Sound Search.” Everyone sits still and id’s as many sounds as possible.
- Play “Charades.” One person or team acts out a movie, book or TV show using only body language, and the others try to guess what they are acting out.
- Play “Encore.” Assign common words to two teams who take turns trying to think of a song that contains each word. Each team must be able to sing at least eight words of the song in order for the entry to count.
- Play “20 Guesses.” Think of any noun, cartoon character, singer, movie, television or sports star. The have the others take turns guessing. Answer the guesses with only a yes, no or sometimes/usually/rarely response.
- Play “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Two people move their fists up & down three times while saying together “rock, paper, scissors.” On the fourth downward motion, each person chooses one gesture:
- Rock – a closed fist
- Paper – an open flat hand
- Scissors – index and middle fingers extended
Determine who is the winner: Rock smashes scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock.
- Play “Hide and Seek.” Designate an area with clear boundaries. Have everyone gather around a landmark which will be “home base.” Pick a person to be “it.” Whoever that is will close their eyes and count to a designated number while the rest of the players hide. When he/she is finished counting, the person who is “it” calls out: “Ready or not, here I come,” then goes to look for a “tag” (gently touch) the hidden players before they get to home base. If the player gets to home base before he/she is touched then they are safe. The first player tagged will be “it” for next round. If none of the payers are tagged then the person is “it” again.
Activities requiring limited supplies for daytime or lighted areas:
Paper, marbles, deck of cards, blocks, coins
- Play “Five Questions.” Write down questions such as:
o What is your favorite color?
o What was your favorite subject in school?
o What is your favorite song?
o What is your favorite food?
o What is your favorite book?
o Each person has to answer them. Once the first set of five questions are answered, let each individual come up with their own set of questions to ask.
- Crumble up a wad of paper and play a ball game (Basketball, baseball, blowing the ball across a table into a “goal”).
- Play marbles. If no marbles are available, use rocks or pebbles (draw a circle and see who can knock the rocks out of the circle).
- Play “Hangman.” Make up a word in your mind. Draw the number of lines that correspond to the letters in that word. Draw an upside down L. If you would like you could give them a little hint such as “animal, vegetable or mineral.” The other players guess a letter and if it’s correct, you put it in the correct blank. If it’s incorrect you put a head on the upside down L. Draw another body part for each subsequent wrong guess. The object is to guess the word before you complete the body. Whoever wins gets to pick a word next.
- Make paper airplanes, origami, or paper boats.
- Trace a person’s hand or draw a random shape and see what animals they can make out of it. Write letters to friends and family.
- Play “Tic Tac Toe.” Make a three by three grid on a piece of paper. One person is an “X” and one is “O.” The player who succeeds in placing three respective marks in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row wins the game.
- Play “Hidden words.” Have everyone agree on a key word, which must be at least seven letters long. Then, players try to find as many smaller words as possible within the key word, by rearranging letters or keeping them in the same order. For instance, “kitchen” would have the hidden words “it,” “itch,” “kit,” and “etch” In it.
- Play “Find a Word.” Make a grid of random letters interspersed with horizontal, vertical and diagonal words and have the person circle the words when they find them.
- Play “House or Tower of cards/Blocks/Coins.” Using a deck of cards, blocks, or coins choose a flat surface and each person builds a house or tower. Whichever house or tower falls down first loses the game.
- “Dress for Success” – have clothes applicable to a particular season, or for a particular role or job, Chef, Doctor, etc. – ask groups to come up with a particular outfit that is acceptable
- Play card games, board games or dominoes.
- Play musical instruments, drums.
- Perform simple magic tricks.
- Have a treasure hunt where you write down clues on slips of paper and lead children to a “treasure.”
- Have a scavenger hunt where you write down clues on slips of paper that lead people to a “treasure.”
- Play “Guess the Object.” Select an object and hand it to a person under a cloth, or with his/her eyes blindfolded or closed. They feel the object with their hands to determine what they are holding. When the person guesses correctly offer another object to guess. If they have difficulty, give clues (what is it for) or ask what they feel and help them figure out what the object could be.
- Play “Guess the Person.” Do in pairs, or for a group – give one word to describe a person in the group. Taking turns, have someone in the group guess who it is. If the person guesses wrong, provide another word to describe the person and then allow another guess. Continue this process until the person guesses correctly. Play again but switch roles, have the other person provide clues and you guess.
Activities that require limited supplies for lights out/night-time or dark areas:
Drawing Paper, flashlight
- Play “Shadow Puppets.” By creating animal shadows using a flashlight and your hands.
- Play “Shadow Drawing.” Tape large sheets of drawing paper on the wall. Have a person pose or stand in front of the paper. Using a flashlight to cast a shadow on the paper, you and another person can trace the individual’s shadow on the paper. Have people color or draw in the features.
- Play “Sleeping Pirate.” The “Pirate” has a flashlight and sits at one end of the room, with the “treasure” (any object) sitting in front of them. The other people line up on the other end of the room, each trying to sneak up and steal the treasure without tipping off the pirate. If the pirate hears a sound, he shines the flashlight in that direction. If the flashlight beams tags a player, they must go back to the starting line. The first player to nab the treasure without alerting the pirate becomes the new pirate.
- Play “Flashlight Scavenger Hunt.” Call out different objects, colors or other clues for players to find. The first person or team to shine a flashlight on the object wins that round.
MORE IDEAS – Some supplies needed
Egg Carton Mancala Game – you make it, then play it:
How to make a paper fidget spinner:
Magic Tricks to learn:
Make a Time Capsule and bury it in the yard. Someday, someone will find it and it could tell the story of what the individuals residing in the houses are going through, or just about them, or about the crisis itself, etc. They could put in pictures, letters, items that represent important things to them, etc. They should mark it once buried so it can be found someday.