Backyard Biology: Investigate Habitats Outside Your Door with 25 Projects

Biology is the study of life. Life is everywhere, thriving in the city and in the country, teeming in ecosystems around the planet—in deserts, oceans, and even the Arctic. And life is right outside your door! Backyard Biology invites children ages 9 and up to investigate living things—especially in yards, parks, nature areas, and playgrounds. Trivia and fun facts bring animals, plants, and microorganisms to life, in all their wonder.

Readers become Nature Detectives with activities and projects that encourage children to make discoveries. Children will construct a plankton net to collect pond samples, and they’ll grow microorganisms in a Winogradsky Column. They’ll discover what mystery plants sprout from collected soil samples and build a rolypoly habitat. When children experiment with phototropism and geotropism, they’ll discover the ways plants move. In Backyard Biology, children will scout out different habitats to observe and investigate—and do their part to protect them.

Price (suggested retail)

  • Softcover, $15.95
  • Hardcover, $21.95
  • eBook, $12.95

Grade Level 4–6

Ages 9–12

GRL T

Subjects

  • Science
  • Biology
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Math
  • STEM - STEAM

More Details

Biology is the study of life. Life is everywhere, thriving in the city and in the country, teeming in ecosystems around the planet—in deserts, oceans, and even the Arctic. And life is right outside your door! Backyard Biology invites children ages 9 and up to investigate living things—especially in yards, parks, nature areas, and playgrounds. Trivia and fun facts bring animals, plants, and microorganisms to life, in all their wonder.

Readers become Nature Detectives with activities and projects that encourage children to make discoveries. Children will construct a plankton net to collect pond samples, and they’ll grow microorganisms in a Winogradsky Column. They’ll discover what mystery plants sprout from collected soil samples and build a rolypoly habitat. When children experiment with phototropism and geotropism, they’ll discover the ways plants move. In Backyard Biology, children will scout out different habitats to observe and investigate—and do their part to protect them.


  • Reviews
  • Look Inside
  • Projects
  • Author-Illustrator

Publishers Weekly
“This addition to the Build It Yourself series incorporates 25 projects for kids to try as they explore the ecosystems that are outside your door. The book’s eight chapters cover biology (and microbiology), cells, and the life cycles of both plants and animals, among other topics; definitions of key terms appear throughout, as do Hetland’s cartoons and diagrams. Latham’s accessible, encouraging tone, along with such experiments as creating habitats for woodlice (aka roly-polies) and building bird nests using natural materials, should pique kids’ interest and get them outdoors.”

School Library Journal
“This resource guide contains a wealth of information and challenging activities for budding scientists. It provides nature projects that can easily be implemented and includes growing microbes, molds, and yeasts; engaging in chemical chromatography; and learning what average people can do to protect neighborhood habitats. Each activity begins with an overview, provides a list of needed supplies, and then usually offers two pages of numbered directions. Many illustrations, diagrams, and sidebars are integrated into the text. The ‘Did you know’ boxes contain interesting facts about the topics of investigation. Each activity expands students’ vocabularies through ‘Words to Know’ mini-glossaries on the pages on which they appear. An appended master glossary contains approximately 180 terms. A good choice for science collections.”

Dr. H. Thorsten Lumbsch, MacArthur Associate Curator and Chair, Department of Botany, The Field Museum
Backyard Biology does a great job in sparking interest in biology and encouraging kids to look around them at plants and animals. This book has the potential of sowing the seeds for a new biologist or conservationist!”

Holly L. Lutz, Department of Zoology, The Field Museum
“I love science—it should be fun and exciting, and Backyard Biology does an excellent job of making it both! These experiments are a perfect introduction to the diversity of life for aspiring young scientists and explorers, and they can all be done in your very own backyard!”

Christine Fanning, Executive Director, The Outdoor Foundation
“What better place to learn about biology than in your backyard! From spores to butterflies to organelles, this book teaches kids how to explore habitats right outside their door and to enjoy the scientific process along the way. Whether in the country or in the city, this book encourages kids to grab a microscope, get curious, and head outside!”



Bags o' Bread Mold

Fungi lack chlorophyll, so they can’t obtain energy from the sun and can’t produce their own food. To get energy, many fungi feast on dead organisms. Mold is a fuzzy, multicellular fungus that flourishes in many environments. It reproduces with spores. You can grow your own mold on slices of bread. What happens when you place them in different environments?

Caution: Some people are allergic to mold spores. Inhaling spores can be harmful. Keep ziplock bags tightly sealed at all times. Don’t touch mold. Ask an adult to help you choose environments out of reach of family members and pets. When you finish the project, ask an adult to safely dispose of the sealed bags.

Click here to download a print-friendly PDF



Donna Latham

Donna Latham is an award-winning author and playwright. She is the author of Amazing Biome Projects You Can Build Yourself, Backyard Biology Investigate Habitats Outside Your Door With 25 Projects, Deciduous, Forests, Deserts, Garbage Investigate What Happens When You Throw It Out With 25 Projects, Norah Jones, Oceans, Respiration and Photosynthesis, Savannas and Grasslands, and Tundra. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Society of Midland Authors. She lives in Batavia, Illinois.



Beth Hetland

Beth Hetland was born and raised in the rolling hills of Wisconsin. She graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 with a BFA and from the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2011 with a MFA in Comics. Beth is currently a member of the Faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago teaching comics.



More Details

Grade Level: 4–6
Ages: 9–12
GRL: T
Subjects: Science, Biology, Engineering & Technology, Math, STEM - STEAM,
Specs: 8 x 10 , black and white interior , 128 pages,
Includes: Table of Contents, Glossary, Resources, Index,

Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“This addition to the Build It Yourself series incorporates 25 projects for kids to try as they explore the ecosystems that are outside your door. The book’s eight chapters cover biology (and microbiology), cells, and the life cycles of both plants and animals, among other topics; definitions of key terms appear throughout, as do Hetland’s cartoons and diagrams. Latham’s accessible, encouraging tone, along with such experiments as creating habitats for woodlice (aka roly-polies) and building bird nests using natural materials, should pique kids’ interest and get them outdoors.”

School Library Journal
“This resource guide contains a wealth of information and challenging activities for budding scientists. It provides nature projects that can easily be implemented and includes growing microbes, molds, and yeasts; engaging in chemical chromatography; and learning what average people can do to protect neighborhood habitats. Each activity begins with an overview, provides a list of needed supplies, and then usually offers two pages of numbered directions. Many illustrations, diagrams, and sidebars are integrated into the text. The ‘Did you know’ boxes contain interesting facts about the topics of investigation. Each activity expands students’ vocabularies through ‘Words to Know’ mini-glossaries on the pages on which they appear. An appended master glossary contains approximately 180 terms. A good choice for science collections.”

Dr. H. Thorsten Lumbsch, MacArthur Associate Curator and Chair, Department of Botany, The Field Museum
Backyard Biology does a great job in sparking interest in biology and encouraging kids to look around them at plants and animals. This book has the potential of sowing the seeds for a new biologist or conservationist!”

Holly L. Lutz, Department of Zoology, The Field Museum
“I love science—it should be fun and exciting, and Backyard Biology does an excellent job of making it both! These experiments are a perfect introduction to the diversity of life for aspiring young scientists and explorers, and they can all be done in your very own backyard!”

Christine Fanning, Executive Director, The Outdoor Foundation
“What better place to learn about biology than in your backyard! From spores to butterflies to organelles, this book teaches kids how to explore habitats right outside their door and to enjoy the scientific process along the way. Whether in the country or in the city, this book encourages kids to grab a microscope, get curious, and head outside!”


Projects

Bags o' Bread Mold

Fungi lack chlorophyll, so they can’t obtain energy from the sun and can’t produce their own food. To get energy, many fungi feast on dead organisms. Mold is a fuzzy, multicellular fungus that flourishes in many environments. It reproduces with spores. You can grow your own mold on slices of bread. What happens when you place them in different environments?

Caution: Some people are allergic to mold spores. Inhaling spores can be harmful. Keep ziplock bags tightly sealed at all times. Don’t touch mold. Ask an adult to help you choose environments out of reach of family members and pets. When you finish the project, ask an adult to safely dispose of the sealed bags.


Click here to download a print-friendly PDF

Author-Illustrator


Donna Latham

Donna Latham is an award-winning author and playwright. She is the author of Amazing Biome Projects You Can Build Yourself, Backyard Biology Investigate Habitats Outside Your Door With 25 Projects, Deciduous, Forests, Deserts, Garbage Investigate What Happens When You Throw It Out With 25 Projects, Norah Jones, Oceans, Respiration and Photosynthesis, Savannas and Grasslands, and Tundra. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Society of Midland Authors. She lives in Batavia, Illinois.


Beth Hetland

Beth Hetland was born and raised in the rolling hills of Wisconsin. She graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 with a BFA and from the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2011 with a MFA in Comics. Beth is currently a member of the Faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago teaching comics.