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.
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Videos, articles, and guides to deepen your connection with nature.
- Guide to Collecting FossilsPeople find fossils in Santa Cruz County all the time! Some of these objects are important for research, while others are best left as part of the landscape. This guide will help you decide what to … Read more
- Mastodons and the MuseumJune 1, 2023 A very special tooth in Santa Cruz County has captured the attention of the world. A widespread community campaign to recover a mastodon tooth that went missing after being recorded on a local … Read more
- Naturalist Night: Reintroducing Fire (watch recording)Fire is a natural part of the California landscape and plays an integral role in our local ecology. For millennia, Indigenous communities have stewarded the land with fire, but centuries of fire suppression, periods of extreme … Read more
- Guide to ForagingPeople have lived along the central coast of present-day California for millennia, surviving and thriving off of the resources that continue to surround us. Today, many of our region’s greatest naturalists are fishers, gardeners, and artists … Read more
- Seabright and the Castle: Then and Now with Dr. Gary GriggsSanta Cruz’s scenic coastline has long enthralled residents and visitors alike, yet storms, relentless waves, and human impacts have and will continue to change our coastline. Join Dr. Gary Griggs for an examination of these processes through … Read more
- Remembering Castle Beach: Stories from the Exhibit (recording)Stroll back in time as you explore the history of Seabright Beach, once called Castle Beach, during this online exhibit preview for Museum Members in honor of the new exhibit, Remembering Castle Beach, opening June 11, … 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: The Sun, Astroids, and CometsAfter two years and 35 programs, this month’s Rockin’ Pop-Up will be our final installment. Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, one last time for an exploration of our solar system. This third installment of our solar system trilogy will end at the beginning, examining how the sun, asteroids, and comets help us understand … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: The Giants of our Solar SystemJoin the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for the second installment of a three-part trilogy exploring the planets of our solar system. March will examine the icy and gaseous planets known as “the giants” — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Watch part one about the terrestrial planets. About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin Piccione … Read more
- Rockin’ Pop-Up: Terrestrial Planets of our Solar SystemJoin the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for the first installment of a three-part trilogy exploring the planets of our solar system. February will examine the terrestrial planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin Piccione and Graham Edwards, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll … 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