The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is an excellent place for nature and science exploration. The Museum At Your Side is our collection of hands-on activities, informative articles, and engaging videos to connect you with nature and science wherever you are! The activities, guides, lectures, workshops, guided nature experiences, and other resources have been developed to support your nature explorations from home or while outside.
Make sure to check back regularly as we continue to expand these offerings!
- Climate Stewardship: Taking Collective Action to Protect California with Adina MerenlenderAcross California, communities are addressing wildfires, climate justice, urban heat islands, ocean temperature rise, and other climate issues in an effort to make natural, working, and urban landscapes more resilient. During this talk, author Adina Merenlender … Read more
- Ancient Scorched Seeds and Indigenous Land Stewardship with Rob CuthrellArchaeologists can analyze charred seeds and other plant remains to learn about relationships between people and the natural world deep into the past. This talk will describe how a collaborative research project between Amah Mutsun Tribal … Read more
- Fossil Walruses and Other Ancient Life in the Monterey Bay with Dr. Robert BoesseneckerThough our coast today is inhabited by sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals, none of these species existed in California 3-5 million years ago. Instead, fossils from the Purisima Formation tell a very different story … Read more
- A Guide to the Rocks of Santa Cruz CountySanta Cruz is an area of geologic interest with a complex history of processes that shaped the coastline, bluffs, terraces, and mountains we see today! Wind, waves, earthquakes, fires, and other natural forces have changed and … Read more
- Santa Cruz Top 5 Geologic Must-SeesSanta Cruz is an area of geologic interest with a complex history of processes that shaped the coastline, bluffs, terraces, and mountains we see today! Use this map as you walk, bike or ride your way … Read more
- Hiking With A Purpose: Post-fire community science with Josie LesageAfter fire, ecosystems can experience many changes. There can be increased risk of erosion and novel species can invade new areas, but fire can also reveal plants that have been waiting years for this natural disturbance … Read more
Activities for Kids
Family-friendly and youth-focused activities, videos, articles, and more to aid in your nature exploration!
- How to Make a Plant PressFlowers are fleeting, but you can make them last for years by pressing them. In this video you can learn how to make your own plant press to preserve flowers or plants for years to come. You can … Read more
- How to Make a Spore PrintSure, you can make beautiful pieces of art from the spores of a mushroom, but you can also learn more about the mushroom in the process, too! Watch this video to learn how to make a spore print … Read more
- Coyote Skull Activity | K-3 GradeCoyotes are widely known as clever animals. Commonly heard, less commonly seen, and rarely surprised, coyotes are able to survive in all kinds of habitats thanks to their ability to eat lots of different foods. Explore a coyote … Read more
- Nature Pumpkin TemplatesWe challenge you to create a jack-o’-lantern that puts a spotlight on the nature of Santa Cruz County. Use some of the templates below or get creative to highlight the wonders of nature this Halloween season.
- Halloween BingoWhether you are looking for an alternative to trick-or-treating or you want to add a little scare to your Halloween stroll, this nature themed scavenger hunt will have you noticing the mysterious and the spooky all around you.
- Celebrating California Biodiversity Day!Choose your own adventure this California Biodiversity Day! Explore the biodiversity around you through a series of activities for kids — from building tools to aid in your observations to scavenger hunts that showcase the variety of life … Read more
Resources for Teachers
Activities, worksheets, videos, and more developed to support standards and formal learning.
- Mini Museum Exhibit Project | 2nd GradeWhat kind of thinking goes into the design of a natural history exhibit? Over the course of three lessons, students deepen their observation-making abilities, learn about how to properly collect natural specimens, and create their own miniature museum exhibit. … Read more
- Coyote Skull Activity | K-3 GradeCoyotes are widely known as clever animals. Commonly heard, less commonly seen, and rarely surprised, coyotes are able to survive in all kinds of habitats thanks to their ability to eat lots of different foods. Explore a coyote skull … Read more
- Bird Beak Activity | 2nd gradeYou can learn a lot about an animal just by making careful observations. If you want to know what an animal eats, a good place to start is by looking at the teeth. But what if they don’t have … Read more
- Animals in Their Habitat Activity | 2nd gradeWhat do animals need to survive? This short lesson explores that question and dives into the different kinds of places where animals can live, and how different animals can survive in their habitats. It’s up to you to use … Read more
- Plant Growth Observations Activity | 2nd GradeWhat do plants need to grow and how do different seasons affect them? To answer these questions we need to pay close attention to the world around us and think about what changes each season brings. Dive into the … Read more
- Weather Observation Activity | 3rd gradeCareful observation and data collection are practices that all scientists and naturalists employ to aid in exploring and understanding the natural world. Weather provides a great way for students to practice both, as they watch from their window or … Read more
Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks. Each installment we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound.
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: Seasonal Changes of Sea IceBlanketing millions of square miles, sea ice is frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface, forming and melting with the polar seasons. Vital to the marine mammals and birds for which they are habitats, sea ice can also play a crucial role in regulating climate. Join us for January’s Rockin’ Pop-Up with the Geology … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: The Motions of the Oceans and the AtmosphereWhat do rocks have to do with the ocean and the atmosphere? Well, quite a lot it turns out! Join us for our next Rockin’ Pop-Up where the Geology Gents will simplify the complexities of these important earth systems. About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin Piccione and Graham Edwards, for monthly conversations about rocks … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: Dangerous MineralsSome rocks are just stone cold killers. From asbestos to cinnabar, our natural world is full of toxic minerals, many of which appear in our everyday lives. Kick-off the Halloween season by digging into the dangerous side of geology during this month’s Rockin’ Pop-Up with Gavin and Graham — the Geology Gents. Photo of Cinnabar … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: What even IS North America?Santa Cruz County is obviously a part of North America. Right? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. There’s the continent of North America, but there’s also the North American tectonic plate — where Santa Cruz County does not reside! While our neighbors in Los Gatos on the other side of the Santa Cruz … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: Great Geologic GoodbyesFor over three years, the Geology Gents have been regular fixtures at the Museum — both online and in-person. For this month’s pop-up though, we say goodbye to Graham as he heads out to New Hampshire for his post-doctoral work at Dartmouth College. The good news is that he’ll remain a Geology Gent from afar … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: The Ocean FloorThe Earth’s crust is divided into two types: oceanic crust and continental crust. During this month’s Rockin’ Pop-Up, we’ll dive into the ever-changing landscape of the ocean floor, from the cozy sounding pillow lavas to the tongue-twisters of troctolite and ultramafic cumulates. It can be dark down there on the ocean floor. Let the Geology … Read more