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At-home activities for families and friends

IGB at-home activities

As we all adjust to new health recommendations and wellness practices we may be finding ourselves at home much more than ever before. Here at the IGB we want to connect with communities both locally in Urbana-Champaign and across the globe. We will be posting fun and educational activities or suggestions to help enjoy this time together and to engage with each other, and to provide some opportunities to learn something new, experiment with a fresh idea, or just be curious.

Below you can find a collection of activities from our daily post. 



Bat Brigade
The heroes of the powerful Bat Brigade: New Dawn, Great Echo, and Winged Cyclone, are conducting their usual afternoon surveillance when an urgent call comes over the Bat Communicator... get the comic here!

Cartoon Series: Caught Between a Geodude and a Hard Place
Featuring some recognizable figures if you're a fan of a certain group of Pocket Monsters from Japan.
Number 1
Number 2
Number 3

Number 4
Number 5


Coloring Sheets

DNA Coloring Sheet
Want to bring some color into this DNA drawing? Download a PDF of our DNA coloring sheet. To learn more about DNA and genomics, check out our video from the World of Genomics at the bottom of this page

IGB Stations Coloring Sheets
Sometimes the IGB travels to another city and puts on a big show called the World of Genomics, that has different interactive stations where people can learn about DNA, or medicine, or bees! We took the best cartoons from those stations and made them into coloring sheets, so let your imagination go wild .... download our pack of 6 new coloring sheets here

Pollen Coloring Sheet
We had so much fun with the DNA coloring sheet that we decided to post a new one - and this is all about pollen! Download a copy and get creative with those colors.



Happy National DNA Day
At the IGB we strive to make genomic science accessible to a broader audience and foster a conversation to share discoveries, discuss differing interpretations, and ask new probing questions about genomics and DNA. So, a day to celebrate the importance of DNA and genomics research is a day we can really get behind. To celebrate National DNA Day, we are posting two bonus Couchreach activities. First, see if you can solve these DNA-based MagicEye images, then test your puzzle skills at solving this DNA word riddle.



Couchreach BINGO
Sometimes it can be a little hard to decide what to do with your day. Setting a few goals can give you a feeling of satisfaction about a job well done, and to provide a few ideas why not try Couchreach BINGO? See what you can accomplish during the day and mark them off on your BINGO sheet - maybe you can color it in when you finish it, or put something special on the square to celebrate. How many ways can you get a BINGO today? How many this week? Do you think you can get ALL of them? Start right now with our Couchreach BINGO sheet

Couchreach Maze
Spend some time helping Mr. T-cell find his way through a tricky maze!

Escape Room #1
Test your knowledge on COVID-19 with our first virtual escape room. We need your help on the COVID Task Force to spread the word about the coronavirus and social distancing. Can you escape your couch and become a COVID Task Force Agent? Find out here: Escape Room #1.

Escape Room #2
"Welcome back, Agent. As you are aware, the CTF is counting on you to spread the word about good hygiene and social distancing measures. To that end, we are looking for Agents who will go above and beyond by performing additional duties for us in the fight against COVID-19. If you think you are qualified for the Special Agent in Charge of Home Safety (SACHS) role, begin part 2 of our training. Good luck, Agent." 

Escape Room #3
"Welcome back Special Agent. As you are aware, states all across the country have slowly begun reopening. However, confirmed COVID cases are still on the rise. We are tasking you with the responsibility of spreading scientifically sound knowledge beyond your own home. If you accept this new assignment, complete the following training to become a Community Protection Commander. Good luck."

Scavenger Hunt
Here's a fun scavenger hunt that you can do inside your own house ... but instead of a list of items, we've provided clues instead. Figure out the clues and hunt them down! Scavenger Hunt is available here and the answers are on the second page so no peeking.


Paper Folding

Bat Paper Airplane
If you have a printer handy go ahead and print out a bat paper airplane. Why not color it in before you fold it? Or even after for a real challenge!

DNA Origami
Here's a fun and challenging paper folding activity - fold a DNA structure! There are two templates available here, a color version and a black and white if you'd like to color everything in, with instructions. DNA not included but you absolutely have some at home.  

Make A Flowering Bee Book
If you woke up today and asked yourself "How can I learn fun facts about bees, create my own little book that is also is a cool folded flower, and get some serious coloring done?" then we have the answer for you. Download our Flowering Bee Book activity and you can do all that, and so much more!  


Science Activities

Art of Science Home Edition
Have you checked out the IGB's Art of Science galleries? We take photos of actual IGB research and showcase them in exciting and imaginative ways by adding some artistic thinking. We think you would make an excellent Art of Science artist, so why not give it a try with our Art of Science home edition. We've provided a few images to start, but don't stop there. Maybe you even have a scientific image from one of our other activities!

At Home in the Hive
A first step in biology is often to spend some time looking closely at nature, and today we're going to look at something that's beautiful, and complicated, and can look like a crazy mess! But really it's an incredibly efficient system, and that's a honey bee hive. Spend some time getting to know the inhabitants of a hive, what their special jobs are, and how they like to act with their neighbors. Download the activity here, and grab a copy of the extra-large hive photo here for some serious investigating.  

Bacteria vs Viruses
What are bacteria? What is a virus? There's a few differences between the two, and in this activity you're going to do some scientific research on what the different parts are and what they have in common and what makes them different. Download Bacteria vs Viruses here

Banana Murder Mystery
It's your first day on the job as the newest junior detective in the Fruitlandia Police Department. Here comes your partner, Detective Cobbler. "Welcome aboard, Detective Smoothie. It's good to have a fresh set of stems around here to help out." Are you ready to delve into the mystery of what happened to Mr. Banana? You'll need all your science sleuthing abilities to solve this mystery! Start investigating by clicking here

Bat Facts & Crafts
How much do you know about bats? Bats get a bad rap a lot of the time, but in reality they provide a lot of good benefits to us humans, like eating mosquitoes or pollinating flowers! With this activity we're going to share some bat fun facts, talk about what is correct and what is incorrect about popular bat myths, and give you some templates for making your own bat crafts. Download it all here!

Bat Pollinator Activity Book
Time for more fun with bats! Enjoy some video links, resources for bat education, and of course some super fun activities courtesy of Bat Conservation International (BCI), a great group that helps keep bats and the environments they live in safe - get it all here in our Bat Pollinator Activity Book

Backyard Insect Safari
There are an estimated 10 quintillion individual insects living at any given time. That ... is a lot of insects. Why not take the opportunity today to spend some time and find a few of our friendly insect companions who are providing important materials, pollinating other plants, and keeping their pesty friends in check. Everything you need can be found in our backyard insect safari activity.    

Build a Flower
Plants with flowers depend on certain types of animals, called pollinators, to help spread their pollen from flower to flower. These can be bees, butterflies, birds, all types are attracted to those new Springtime flowers. We're going to design a flower and think about the kinds of pollinators that might visit us! Download the activity here. 

Build a Virus
A virus is too small to see with your eyes, but we can make our own model so we can think about the shape and understand a little better how it works. You can make yours out of clay or play dough, but if you don't have any don't worry! We have an easy recipe to make your own. Let's Build a Virus!

Cabbage pH Indicator
You might have heard about acids and bases before, but what actually makes something an acid or a base? We are going to use liquid from a red cabbage to make a big bunch of tests and see how the color changes based on the pH scale! Download our activity and get started on your experiment.

Capillary Action
How does a tree get water from the ground all the way up to the leaves at the very top? With the help of some cool forces called cohesion and adhesion, trees use capillary action to move water up even though you might think it would only move down. You can set up your own experiment to see how this works with our Capillary Action activity

Crack the Code
A tricky activity about DNA, RNA, and proteins, where you'll play the part of a biological deciphering machine called a ribosome. Read through our special codon wheel and decipher a secret message about coronavirus. Download a packet here that has instructions, background info on the science, and the code to be cracked. The answer is on the last page so no skipping ahead!  

Critter Camouflage
Sometimes animals don't want to be seen. Maybe they are trying to find some food, or they are hiding from other animals, or they just don't feel like dealing with anyone at the moment. There are a lot of ways they camouflage themselves in their environment, but patient and keen-eyed observers can spot them, just like researchers in the wild do when they are studying their behavior. Do you think you can find all the critters using camouflage? Download Critter Camouflage and give it a try!

Critter Camouflage Wildlife Cam Edition
Sometimes animals can be tricky to see even when they aren’t trying to hide. This can make it difficult for scientists to learn about the diversity of animals and their behaviors. Today we are going to look at images taken by motion-triggered nature cameras from the Chicago Wildlife Watch. These cameras have taken images of hundreds of creatures, but sometimes it can be difficult to pick them out from their surroundings. Help identify the camouflaged critters going about their day in the pictures so that scientists can understand more about the species that make their homes in Chicago.

Critter Camouflage Wildlife Cam II - Light and Shade Edition
We loved looking at these nature cam images so much that we’re back for another round! The premise is the same, but these animals may be even tougher to spot, as they blend into nighttime darkness or daytime shadows. Can you find all the camouflaged animals captured by this Chicago wildlife cam? Download the activity here

Decipher the Family Tree of the Buzzies!
Buzzies are a group of friendly bugs that live inside the IGB, and our scientists noticed some buzzies look different than other buzzies. They think it's due to evolution, and we'd like to help them figure it out. We're going to construct a special type of family tree called a cladogram that will help us find how everyone is related. Get your copy here!   

Delicious DNA
We bet you've seen a drawing or a model of DNA, that shows the special shape it has that wraps around itself called a double helix. Today you can build your own model of DNA out of the materials you have around your house - candy, fruits, anything handy that's delicious! Download our activity sheet and start building. 

Dissect a Flower
Now that the weather is getting warmer we're seeing a lot of flowers bloom in our backyards. Flowers look very nice but there's a lot more to them than meets the eye, and with this activity we are going to do a little investigation into all the different parts that make up a flower. Download your copy here and get started!

Draw a Prokaryote
What's a prokaryote (pro-care-ee-oat)? They tend to be single-celled organisms that don't have a nucleus. You know what else they are? Really fun and easy to draw. Use our handy Draw a Prokaryote activity and whatever drawing supplies you have on hand at home, and make your masterpiece today!   

Edible Soils
Did you know that when we say "soils" it can actually mean up to six different layers? With our edible soil recipe you can learn about those different layers and also make them delicious to eat. Experiment with a range of ingredients and make a tasty snack for your mind as well as your stomach! Download a copy of Edible Soils here (courtesy of  

Guidebook to Friendly Home Microbes
Microbes are all around us, living on and in almost everything on the surface of the Earth. Gross! Or is it? We can make a handy guide about some of the microbes that are around you every day that are friendly, helpful, and make our lives better. Download our Guidebook to Friendly Home Microbes and go forth prepared with knowledge!  

Honey Bee Labeling
Do you know the parts of a honey bee? Do you think you could label them and find out some fun facts? We think you can, especially if you use our handy Honey Bee Labeling worksheet! Download your worksheet here, and if you want to check your answers you can download the answer key here. Here's a fun fact you can share with your friends to really sound like a pro .... honey bee is always two words! 

How Do I Compare To A Bat?
For activity leaders, a detailed lesson plan for a suite of activities called "How Do I Compare to a Bat?" that has several options to try out over time, or even in a small group. 

Anything that is alive, or was once alive, or was a part of a living thing, has some DNA in it. Do you think you could spot all the items in a picture that have DNA? Download a copy of our I Spy DNA activity and give it a try! There are bonus challenges too, but stay away from the last page until you're ready for answers. If you just want a really big version of the picture you can get there here

Jelly Belly Biology
Scientists observe things very closely - that's how they can discover new information or identify interesting qualities that are worth investigating further. To help them observe they created a special kind of guide, called a dichotomous key, to share the differences they have seen with other researchers. We're going to create our own dichotomous key to explore one of nature's greatest mysteries .... jelly beans. Download our packet with the activity, key, and identity table here! 

Know Your Fruits and Vegetables
Some of the fruits and vegetables you know and love to eat today are actually domesticated versions of some pretty crazy ancestors, the result of hundreds of years of farming practices to produce the best crops. Do you think you can match the modern day version with its wild origin? We bet you can! Download here! 

Make a Tiny Zine
Zines are small-circulation self-published booklets. They allow for voices of all volumes to publish and share their experiences! So why not share your experience with your own tiny zine, instructions and a photo guide available here.

Observing Like a Scientist and an Artist
Sometimes there is a whole world to explore right in front of us, ways to stimulate our brain and examine our surroundings that we've never thought about before. With that idea in mind, let's make new discoveries by observing like a scientist and an artist! Go outside in your backyard and find a leaf and follow these directions

Social Squares
We can do our own investigation into how an infection, like COVID-19, can be spread among people. Scientists use powerful computers and special software to make predictions just like this, but we can do our own experiment with objects already in your house. Download our Social Squares activity and get started! 

Spot the Difference
Today we are taking an adventure into one of IGB’s labs and visiting a scientist’s bench. This scientist was growing plates of bacteria and studying the antibiotics they produced. The photo on the left is the original and the photo on the right has been altered. Can you spot the differences? Stay away from the last page until you’re ready for the answers. 

Strawberry DNA Extraction
Extract actual DNA from a strawberry ... oooo .... this is definitely a group activity that you'll need some help and supervision with from an older family member or friend, so find a science partner, download a copy of the activity, and get that DNA!

Surface Tension Activity
How is it you can jump into a pool of water and go right through, but a boat can float on top and sail all over the place? Find out here.

The Wings of Things
Happy Earth Day everyone! Today we are celebrating the Earth by learning about insects. Sometimes insects make us nervous, but they are extremely important to us and the Earth. They help pollinate flowers, help things decompose, play an important role in soil aeration and some people even keep them as pets. In the activity The Wings of Things, can you match the creature to it’s wings?


Word Puzzles

COVID-19 Word Search
Let's find some words related to the news we're hearing about and best practices to keep everyone healthy. Get your word search here! 

Crossword Puzzle
Here's your chance to use all the new words you've been learning about when we talk about COVID-19, and the ways we can help keep the disease from spreading. You can download a copy to print and fill out, or you can do it on your screen if you like that better. If you're really stumped you can also get a copy of all the answers here, but do you really need it? We don't think you do. 

IGB Lab Equipment Puzzle
We've got a nice word challenge today - combine our two clues to answer the question, and answer all the questions to solve the puzzle. Who's up for teasing their brain today? Download our Lab Equipment Puzzle here!  

IGB Research Theme Word Search
The IGB has a lot of areas where we do specialized research into things like improving how much food we can grow, looking for new medicines or new ways to treat disease, or how to make and use technology to discover things in the world around us. You can read about our research themes here, and download a fun word search about our research here!  

IGB Riddle Word Puzzle
What's better than a word puzzle? A word puzzle that has a secret riddle hidden in it! Grab a copy of the Riddle Word Puzzle today and see if you can solve it. The answer is a little punny - you've been warned! 

Keyboard Puzzle
Our friend Dr. Bob has a special message for us, but we need your help to figure it out. Luckily he left us a few clues, can you decipher his message and let us know? Download the Keyboard Puzzle and give it a shot! 

Notable Scientists Zebra Puzzle
This zebra puzzle features some of your soon-to-be-favorite notable scientists. Put your logic caps on and use the clues to fill in the matrix! Download a copy of the Notable Scientists Puzzle here, and if you need to check your work the answer key can be downloaded here. 

Pokemon Hidden Message
Trainers needed! Some Pokémon from the Kanto and Johto regions have an important message to tell everyone, but they need someone who can decipher it. If you are up for the challenge download a copy of the Hidden Message and get to work! 

Word Scramble
Here's a tricky word scramble that features some words or phrases you might have heard in relation to COVID-19. Some of these might be tough but take your time and stick with it!