My Backyard and Beyond

Our 360 degree tour is designed to let you virtually visit our exhibit as well as offering lessons, simulations, videos, stories and STEM activities to bring learning alive. Feel free to tour at your own pace. There is a lot of content available, so take your time exploring the exhibit. You can experience this tour on your computer, notebook, tablet, or smart phone. Another option is to access it using VR googles and your phone. You can get them from various sources.

Here is a list of suppliers:

My Backyard and Beyond consists of six main rooms scenes. This tour is focused on nature, natural science and environmental stewardship. Embedded in the main 360 images you will find a series of icons. Clicking the icons will either tell you about the exhibit, provide you will lessons and content, or allow you to navigate through the virtual environment. You can navigate through the rooms by clicking on the red arrows. Each arrow takes you to another room in 360. Below the red arrow you will find a red and white bull’s eye. The icon gives you information about where the arrow will take you. When you enter a room and look around you will see a series of icons or tags that when selected provide you with lessons, activities, crafts, videos, simulations and story time.


Inside the Model House (221 High Street)

This main room allows you to check levels of environmental stewardship. You will find games, videos, and online personal calculators. Look around the open design of the house to find where recycled materials have been incorporated.

Energy Scout – How much energy do we use in our houses? Are there places to save energy and money?

  • Energy Hog Game – complete all 5 levels of the game and you can be a Hog Buster.
  • Energy Star Scavenger Hunt – online game to identify Energy Star appliances in your home.

Water Wall – Water is a very precious commodity. The exhibit wall features a breakdown of household water uses. Our virtual experience finds ways to green up your household.

  • Water Use Footprint app to see where you stack up against the country.
  • Video – Kid friendly water conservation video with Aqua.

The Giant Oak

Step inside our giant tree! Look for some of the creatures that call this fantastic structure their home. While there, look at closeups of the creatures. Click to see information, videos and activities with the inhabitants. Take a look on the floor to see how history is recorded in the tree rings.

Project Learning Tree Cookies – Use this resource with you own homemade tree ring cookies. You can learn about the history recorded within.

Pond Life

Stroll through the meadow to our pond exhibit. This diorama depicts the plants, animals and insects of a typical Virginia pond. In this room you can also explore the lives of some of the animals, get a view of the microscopic life in pond water and even learn about the life cycles of butterflies and frogs!

Virtual Pond – click the links to populate your own pond in the virtual reality activity. Print up a copy our your completed pond. Wentz Microscopes – Pond water is teaming with all kinds of microscopic life. When visiting the museum you can look through the scopes at prepared slides of the creatures. In our room you can do a virtual study of the pond life.

Butterflies – In your visits you perhaps built the life cycle of a butterfly by arranging the puzzle pieces. A glimpse of our butterfly tour in 360 will provide you with:

  • Butterfly coloring pages – download and print your own butterfly coloring page focused on the life cycle of this beautiful creature.
  • Life Cycle of Butterflies Video – take in a video highlighting the life cycle.
  • Storytime – The Very Hungry Caterpillar story book is presented.

Frog Life Cycles – What trip to a pond would be complete without seeing a frog. This amphibian has a really cool life cycle. Check out these activities on your tour:

  • Frog Life Cycle Activity – use modeling clay to demonstrate the stages of a frogs life through this activity.
  • Frog Life Cycle Video – Kid friendly video of the frog’s transformation from egg through adult stage.
  • Story Time – The children’s book “Frog on a Log” is presented.

Beavers, Bugs and Flowers

What is buzzing in the next room? You are a short stroll from finding out. This room shrinks you down to a bug’s size. Come face to face with a giant ladybug, daffodil and honey bee! Crawl through a beaver’s lodge. This room will provide a host of activities, crafts and videos.

Giant Beaver Lodge – Get up close and personal with this most amazing builder. Learn about a beaver’s habitat through these virtual lessons:

  • Beaver Video – Join River and Wilder as they explore the beaver dam and lodge near their home.
  • PBS Learning Media – Beavers – this site has a short video, background reading and review questions for our K – 5 guests in this downloadable lesson.

Honey Bees – Our giant honey bee is in search of some yummy nectar. You can learn more about this amazing and important member of the insect community through our 360 virtual links:

  • Live Bee Hive Cam – click on the link to get a live glimpse of the inner workings of a bee hive. (This camera is not local so you may be seeing them at a different part of the daily clock.)
  • Bee Activities and Lessons – there is a host of activities for our young guests; crafts, learning activities, and motion activities. Lots of fun ideas.

Ladybug – our giant ladybug has a story to tell. Click on the icons to reveal her story.

  • Ladybug Video – learn Five Unusual Fact About Ladybugs. I will be you never knew that Ladybugs were so important.
  • National Geographic Insects for Kids – Click the link to go to the NatGeo site to learn about other insects including our Ladybug.

The Good, the Bad and the Bugly – Not all insects are creepy, in fact we could not survive without them. When visiting our exhibit in real life you can try to identify good and damaging insects. In our virtual tour you can click on the icon to have more fun with:

  • Bug Memory Game – try to match the bugs in this online concentration type game.

Giant Daffodil – Come face to face with the flowers of this giant plant. Can you identify the parts of a flower? Flowers depend upon insects and birds to help them spread. Click the link to get a host of cool insect lessons and crafts.

  • Let’s BEE Friends – a dozen cool activities awaits. Build a bee hotel, make some cute bee figures, practice pollination with your favorite cheese flavored crunchy snacks.

What’s For Lunch? – This virtual activity lets you test your skills at putting food chains and webs together. Do it in the fewest tries and you win.

Seasons and Archaeology

This room, while fairly small is cock a block full of activities. Take your time during your virtual visit. Click on the icons to reveal the activities.

Seasons Wall – Seasons are repeating patterns of changing weather associated with Earth’s tilt on its axis as it orbits our Sun. How do the changing seasons affect living things? Click the link to go to a Prezi presentation on How Are Things Affected by Weather and Seasonal Change. There you can learn about things like behavioral and structural adaptations displayed by living things.

Video – View a kid friendly video on the causes of seasons.

Turn to view cut away soil profile. Notice the items buried within each layer. They are called “artifacts”. The deeper you dig, the older the artifacts get. Scientists who study the artifacts have to dig away the material to reveal their treasures. They are called archaeologists. Click on the icons to explore the way archaeologists study their sites.

Games, Puzzles and Coloring Activities – click the link and explore the activities.

Cookie Dig Archaeology Activity – Here is a tasty way to explore this science with your favorite chocolate chip cookie.

Video – View the kid friendly video to get a better understanding of what an archaeologist does.

Virtual Archaeology Dig – Choose your site, complete the dig and learn the secrets of the site.

Water, Weather and Beach Room

A short stroll across a bridge brings you to the room where weather is the central focus. Here you can learn how Earth’s water cycle works, learn about clouds and weather forecasting, gain some insight into the importance of Virginia’s dunes and even go face to face with severe weather like a tornado.

Dunes and Don’ts – Heading to the beach? You may notice ridges of sand piled up against the beach. They are dunes and they are very important to keeping the land behind them safe. Click the icons to get some activities to model ways to slow dune erosion:

  • Home Beach Erosion Activity – this hands on activity is made with items found in most homes. You can model wave action to show the dune’s role in keeping the land safe.
  • Dune Erosion in a Box – this at home demonstration shows how winds move dunes and how vegetation is critically important to keeping the dunes in place.

The Water Cycle – visitors to the exhibit get to witness the movement of water through the cycle to see how Earth’s waters get around. Virtually in our 360 tour you can click on icons to make a model of the water cycle.

  • Water Cycle in a Bag – Use a sandwich bag and some water to identify and model the water cycle.
  • Crumple a Watershed Activity – using a sheet of paper, markers and a spray bottle you too can model the flow of surface water in the water cycle.

Clouds and Weather – Make your own weather instruments, made daily observations and become a citizen scientist. Click the icons to get downloadable lessons.

  • Build a Barometer – A barometer is one of the most important weather tools used to forecast weather. You can make your own with household items.
  • Build a Rain Gauge – How much rain fell in your home last night? How did the rainfall compare to the local weather person’s forecast? You can tell with your own rain gauge made from things around your home.
  • Clouds and Becoming a Citizen Scientist – clouds are important to understanding of how the Earth’s climate is changing. There are several types of clouds. Some cool the planet while some others trap the Sun’s heat. This lesson teaches about clouds and human made contrails. Using a free app, you and your family can post your observations so that they may be included in scientific studies.

Tornado Simulator – We capture the power of a tornado right in our exhibit. Check out the icons to learn more about these powerful storms. Tornado Simulator – check out this short video to see how our demonstrator works.

  • Build Your Own Tornado – you can build your tornado in a bottle from things around your house. All you need are two liter bottles with caps, a washer, duct tape, water, glitter, and some water.
  • Story Time – Sit back and listen to the children’s book: Otis and the Tornado.

Our Sky at Night – Stroll into the our night sky. Here you will learn about constellations, our solar system, and the night sky.

  • Tonight’s Sky – look up to get access to the night sky above your backyard. Here you can find the moon, stars and planets that adorn the sky.
  • Video – So you want to make a model of our solar system? If you wish to do it to scale it is a bit difficult. Watch this video to see how some adventurous folks went about that.
  • Solar System Information and Games – click this link to go to the NASA site to study all things solar system.
  • If the Moon were One Pixel – this impressive app shows the scale of the solar system if you were using the moon as a guide. Imagine that the moon only takes up one pixel of the screen. You can scroll to see the sizes and distances of the members of our solar system. Spoiler alert; our solar system is really BIG!
  • Earth, Moon and Sun Simulator – when visiting the exhibit you can spin the bar to put the Earth, Moon and Sun into their proper motions. Why does the moon have phases? How far does the Earth have to travel to make one complete revolution and give us a year? Check the short video out.
  • Oreo Moon Phase Activity – click the link to get this cool activity. You can model the phases with everyone’s favorite cookie. You get to eat your moons when done.
  • Constellations – Each panel focuses on a different constellation or asterism (smaller recognizable part of a constellation). Learn what stars make up the constellation and learn a bit about the mythology that support each constellation’s placement in the sky.

We hope you enjoy your virtual visit to My Backyard and Beyond. You can stop by as many times as you wish. This site will be updated on an ongoing basis. Also you may follow the navigation arrows to visit other Children’s Museum of Virginia exhibits in the near future. We are putting them online as the content is developed. Currently you can also navigate to our 360 tour of Dr. Forces Traveling Energy Extravaganza. Check back soon for a virtual visit with CreARTivity our cool exhibit on the arts.