As a general rule of thumb, I try to get my kids outdoors as much as possible, for their sanity as well as my own.  But this summer is kicking my butt when it comes to outdoor play.  We saw triple digits here in Virginia several days last week, complete with shirt drenching humidity and scorching sunshine.  And I know we're not alone.  All over the country, communities are reporting record breaking heat and humidity levels.  Enough is enough!

Don't get me wrong, my kids and I still get outside, but not nearly as much as when the temps are a little less brutal.  Still, I don't want their hours indoors to be filled with television and video games, right?  So I've been checking out fun ways to bring nature indoors, at least until Mother Nature makes it a little more bearable to enjoy her backyard.  Here are some of the indoor nature activities we are planning to try:

Terrarium:  My girls love to collect little leaves, rocks, and shells, so this seems like a great way to help them corral their collections while focusing on the details of these little objects from nature.

Pressed flower place mats:  Flower gardens are at their peak all over town right now.  This craft will help us extend the season for these little beauties so that we can enjoy them all year long.  We'll pick ours from our backyard - be sure you have permission if you plan to pick from anywhere else!

Butterfly house: We have done this activity for years and my girls love (L-O-V-E) watching caterpillars become butterflies more and more each time.  This is a really great way to bring the outdoors in and help your kids see nature in action.

Nature games: There are lots of different nature-themed games and activities you can try with your kids.  I like the one described in this link for its simplicity and for the fact that you don't need anything but a paper and pencil (and your nature smarts) to play.

Constellation in a canister: This is an oldie but a goodie and a great way to help kids learn more about the night sky. Of course, it's so old that it may be a little dated - who uses film canisters anymore?  We're going to try this with yogurt containers and I think they'll work just as well.

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