Since I mentioned our chemistry adventures, I thought I'd mention another book we've enjoyed.
Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method, by Sally Kneidel, is just what it sounds like. Most kids naturally like to catch and observe all kinds of creatures. The book takes that natural curiousity and expands on it, giving lots of ideas for ways to gently experiment on what you catch using the scientific method.
Which you know, right? Observation, question, hypothesis, methods, result, and conclusion.
1. Observation: We see a lot of roly-poly bugs (potato bugs, sow bugs, etc.) around the yard. We usually find them under things. They're pretty easy to find and catch just about any time of year.
2. Question: Do roly-polies like wet or dry environments? Light or dark?
3. Hypothesis: Make a prediction. Okay, we can't test their feelings, but we can test what they choose. "I think roly-poly bugs will choose a dark environment over a light environment."
4. Methods: Try it out. Make some kind of simple habitat that offers the roly-poly a choice. Catch several roly-polies and see what happens.
5. Result: Describe exactly what happened. "My roly-poly wandered around the light side of the habitat for a few minutes, trying to climb out. Once he discovered the dark side of the habitat he didn't come out."
6. Conclusion: "My roly-poly bug chose the dark habitat."
You'll learn more from going through the process than if you just catch them and play with them, and the kids have just as much fun :0)
The book is divided into chapters for each creature (worms, roly-polies, spiders, fungus, slime mold, etc.) Most are things that most people could find in most places. Some things you might have to order (the book will tell you where you can find them). Or just skip those. The materials you'll need are mostly things you'll find around the house, or can beg, buy or borrow. Several experiments are offered for each kind of creature.
Huge fun, people, huge fun.
And working through the process will give you ideas and confidence for other creatures and experiments not in the book.
Just be prepared to have lots of creepy, crawly things in jars around the house...