Around the world, people locked themselves in kids adjusted, possibly too much. Telling them fresh air and exercise is good for them is a true statement, however, it might not provide the motivation they need. But what are good nature activities for kids?
There is an abundance of nature activities for kids, including making a sunflower fort, ice ornaments, blooming flower necklaces, and painting with mud. Activities can even be indoors, should circumstances require, such as container gardening or sand painting.
Yes, we all know we can go for a walk, take a swim, and have a picnic. But have you ever made a tent by planting beans? We’ve scoured the internet and found fifty nature activities for kids, ranging from easy-peasy to those that require more planning and time. It’s all a matter of finding what works for you and the kids.
50 Nature Actives for Kids
Alphabet Rocks was invented for little kids, but with a glow up could make an excellent activity for a tween to do to create a unique touch for the bedroom. With only a handful of materials, an adorable name board is designed using a piece of driftwood, stones, glue, paint, and a sharpie.
Older children might want to use glitter, higher quality paint, and perhaps consider additional adornments such as pinecones. A lovely indoor/outdoor activity.
Backyard camping is an activity that can be as simple or as fancy as you and your kids make it. Country Living has provided twenty-three different ideas to make it easy for you and your kids to find your backyard camping style. We were impressed with the backyard camping bathtub idea, and the suggested snacks will make you hungry.
Bean Pole Lodge
This year plant your beans with a future lodge in mind. It requires the normal materials for staking your beans, such as bamboo poles and twine, but making sure they are longer and staked wider apart to create a conical tent frame. This is a fun way to move winter’s indoor table and pillow forts outdoors where children can lounge in the shade of a living tarp.
To be honest, even if we didn’t have kids, we’d be tempted to make one for ourselves and our pets.
Birdwatching isn’t just for adults; kids can enjoy it too. Rhythms of Play has some great advice on how to get kids involved in the activity, even from your backyard. From watching them through a window to putting together their own bird nest, she has plenty of ways to nurture the appreciation of our feathered friends.
Sixth Bloom has a DIY bird feeder activity that steers clear of nuts and peanut butter, making it suitable for most allergy suffers. All it really requires is an orange, seed, and twine.
If you want to give children a variety of bird DIY bird feeder options, then have a peek at Red Ted Art’s 15 bird feeder ideas. The blog repurposes plenty of household items such as empty milk cartons and toilet paper rolls. Our favorite is weather-dependent, as it is made of snow.
Blooming Flower Necklace
Kids Activities spiced up this grow seeds on cotton balls activity by turning it into a living flower blooming necklace (scroll down to activity number twenty). The clever idea doesn’t require much more than cotton balls, yarn, and seeds. A unique way to adorn the self with nature’s beauty.
The Olympics has brought more and more people’s attention to bouldering. But the activity isn’t just for teens and adults, younger children can do it too. Mountain Method Gear has put together some great advice on bouldering with kids. A nice family activity that can bring a new athletic twist to the typical hike.
Caper: Interactive Story-led Adventures
Caper is an app program that got its start thanks to LEGO Ventures and Founders Factory. The free smartphone app uses characters and storylines to send children and their families off on outdoor adventures. The cartoon characters will “phone” the child and send them on a mission to a nearby outdoor area to complete a “mission.” You can watch their demonstration video on YouTube.
Container gardening is a wonderful way to bring nature into your lives even if you don’t have a lot of space. It can be as simple as starting off with one potted plant or just nailing a few into a fence post like this activity. You can also find some great tips here if you want to expand beyond the odd plant or two.
Dandelion Blow Painting
If you need a sweet and simple activity to do with little ones, the dandelion blow painting is darling. It doesn’t require much more than paint, glue, paper, and dandelions, of course. The walk to find the dandelions would be an excellent way for the children to burn off some energy before taking part in the more focused side of the activity.
Does it Belong in Nature?
Kids don’t always understand the point of taking a walk or hike. Thus, it helps if you give the outing a purpose. An easy solution is to play “Does it belong in nature?” You can “litter” your own backyard to do this, or simply take a walk and have the children take note of various objects that you come across, from pinecones to tossed-away cans.
Geocaching is another excellent way to give outings such as hiking a purpose. After all, geocaching is just treasure hunting by another name. Although, unlike a pirate finding a chest of gold, you’re probably not going to be able to retire off your child’s successful find. If you have never gone geocaching before, you can find some great beginner advice here.
Help your children find extra magic in nature by creating a fairy garden. You can make one right in your backyard or follow the link to find out more about transforming a cardboard box into a fairyland. It’s a sweet and inexpensive activity that will spark delight.
Transform you and your children into royalty by making flower chain crowns with this tutorial. This is a much more robust way to linking the flowers together than making a single chain. Once the fun is over and the flowers have begun to droop, the 100% natural activity can make its way to the compost to nourish the soil of the next crop of flowers that will grow.
Flower and leaf printing with liquid watercolors is a wonderful way to use nature in art. It is also easier to wash the “color” off children and clothing than using most ink. First, you go out and collect the flowers and leaves. Then after some energy has been dispelled, the little ones can sit down and make beautiful pictures with their finds.
Ice ornaments are a fun and temporary way to decorate the garden. While this makes a great winter activity in climates that drop below freezing, even people who never see the snow can still try this so long as they have a freezer. A fun way to play with ice and temporarily decorate the outdoors with its own natural cast-offs.
A fun activity that keeps on giving is an insect hotel. While the activity doesn’t take much time to construct, the children can continue to check up on it in the garden, yard, or even a balcony and see what critters have decided to adopt the hotel as their new home. Hand over a magnifying glass to help their daily inspection.
Inspecting Pond Water
A nice STEM activity for exploring nature is to collect some pond water and bring it back home to examine under a magnifying glass and microscope. The blog Stir the Wonder does this with their kids. But even if you don’t have a pond at the edge of your property, this could pair nicely with an outing such as a walk, hike, or picnic and collecting a sample from a pond, dam, lake, or even a mud puddle.
Before the children can whine about an autumn stroll to admire the colorful leaves, suggest they collect the prettiest ones so they can make a leaf necklace. Once the activity is done, the children can prance and strut around as fairy and elf royalty.
Another fun leaf activity, no matter the season, is doing Sixth Bloom’s leaf people craft project. It is easy, fun, and allows the kids to express their individual creativity. The project uses googley eyes, but if you want to keep it natural, just find some gravel, seeds, or bark to use instead.
Leaf Print Mandalas
A wonderful way to incorporate nature into an indoor activity is by doing Kroktak’s leaf print mandalas project. These colorful designs are eye-catching and, at times, truly beautiful.
If older children are taking part, you could tweak the activity and have them use the leaves to create a cascading or fully fanned peacock tail. Or have them make a mandala but then construct a frame from collected twigs.
Danya Banya salvaged a disappointing lack of platypuses on an outing by having her children sort leaves both by color and by pattern. It’s a lovely idea to pull out of your virtual back pocket when you need a distraction. Bonus: it doesn’t require anything but leaves which the children can hunt down as they walk or picnic.
If you are lucky enough to live on a lot of land or find yourself camping amongst the trees, then consider recreating your own version of Tee Diddly Dee’s DIY log fort. It’s like playing with a giant set of Lincoln Logs. This activity will require some muscle and forward planning. But what a sense of accomplishment everyone will have when it’s done.
Combine the love of nature with STEM by doing this mini-ecosystem activity with the kids. This activity will take some time, but it will keep kids busy and lead to interesting discussions and discoveries as they observe their bugs and critters in the micro-habitat. Basic materials, aside from what is gathered outdoors, include an aquarium or tub, netting, and rubber band.
Montessori Inspired Bird Unit
Bridge the love of nature with an educational experience by putting together a Montessori Inspired Bird Unit. This interactive teaching tool keeps the love of the outdoors alive even while indoors. Walks and time in the backyard can be used as opportunities to practice what they’re learning from their unit. Who says learning needs to be boring?
Mud Painting is an easy and playful activity that demonstrates that not all dirt is the same. Younger kids might just smear it around and giggle. But older children might make some surprisingly striking art.
Making mud pies is a gleeful way to get kids enthusiastic about the mucky side of nature. Creativity will abound, along with laughs and giggles. A wonderful activity that keeps little hands busy and happy.
Natural Dyes from Plants
Tie-dye kits are all the rage, but it could be fun to get your kids to explore natural dyes. Once dye is mixed, kids could use it to make art on watercolor paper, decorate Easter eggs, or try their luck with a pair of socks or a hanky. Add a bit stronger STEM element and have the kids dye various strips of muslin, allow it to dry, then wash to see which dye set the best.
If kids are getting squirrely while camping or at a picnic, distract them with this clever nature faces activity. All you need is what your children can safely gather, although chalk can be a fun addition too. Snap photos as you encourage their creativity. After all, who said nature faces had to have two eyes? Nothing wrong with one or five.
Challenge the kids to assemble their own nature journal. It could be as simple as blank pages for them to record what they come across on walks or involve them incorporating specific activities. A great hands-on project that continues to be useful long after it is put together.
Nature Photo Scavenger Hunt
Occupy your children with an entertaining outdoor photo scavenger hunt. This would be an excellent way to use an Instax camera, as the photos could be pasted into their nature journal or turned into a collage. But kids could also use a smartphone or tablet to snap photos while on the hunt.
Nature weaving is a great activity that blends the outdoors with creativity and compostable art. The act of weaving is brilliant at promoting hand-eye coordination. Plus, the tactile activity provides sensory beyond the everyday touch of plastic. A fun challenge with no wrong answer for all to enjoy.
Encourage kids to be active yet relaxed by taking part in some nature yoga. These foundational yoga poses have been given a rebranding with names such as raven, moose, porcupine, and red squirrel. A fun way and stress-free way to enjoy the outdoors.
Plant a Kid Friendly Garden
Involve the kids in your garden, giving them a sense of responsibility and connection to nature.
There are many ways to allow kids to participate, from having them water a patch to giving them a section of earth or pots to call their own. Gardening lifts hearts and self-esteem while also involving STEM skills. Watching seeds sprout is a valuable lesson all on its own.
Ensure your children don’t view the outdoors as only approachable in glorious weather by introducing puddle play. Let them hop, walk, stomp, and stand in the puddles with joy while you encourage counting and observation skills. A fabulously messy way to have fun after being cooped up indoors.
Whether you are a teacher or a parent, raising butterflies will fill the children with wonder as they observe caterpillars grow and transform into butterflies. Metamorphous is one of the most magical processes to observe in our natural world. An enchanting way to get children involved in natural science.
Not all sand activities have to take place at the beach. Check out this sand panting activity, which combines texture and color to a piece of artwork. Regardless if you are young or old, fabulous creations can be made. An enjoyable craft project that the whole family can participate in.
Snow is such a versatile building material. If the white stuff is keeping the kids from the classroom, or they’re already home, then encourage them to create snow people, snow forts, snow towers, and snow walls. When you are done, take some of the cold stuff inside and plop it under a microscope.
If winter has exhausted the kids’ building creativity, mix it up with snow painting. All that is needed is at least one squirt or spray bottle and food coloring. The more bottles and colors, the more vibrate the children’s art as they go outside and create the frozen version of chalk art. A creative way to embrace the colder side of nature.
Snow is the perfect opportunity to introduce the art of tracking and identifying animals by their prints. Tracking is vastly more difficult in dirt or sand. Snow gives clear and distinct prints, be it from your dog, the neighbor’s cat, or some disgruntle backyard chickens. A great activity to involve their nature journal, too.
Introduce the art of balancing stones with the much more accessible game of stacking rocks. This activity requires children to hunt and gather appropriate materials before trying to build the highest tower. Or make it a cooperative activity, which can either lighten or increase the challenge, depending on the children’s moods. Just remind them to watch out for falling stacks and to watch their toes.
Stargazing with SkyView Lite
Combine children’s love of screens with the honest-to-goodness night sky with the SkyView Lite app. Get children looking up at night while using the app to locate and identify constellations and which bright twinkling lights are actually planets or satellites. A fun and interactive way to get children outdoors, even in the dark.
Stone Matching Game
Introduce children to the stone matching game, a natural twist on puzzles. This DIY puzzle provides tactile stimulation and allows children to consider irregular shapes and objects. It also gives any rock collection hanging around the house a sense of purpose. One only has the need for so many paperweights, after all.
This charming and delightful activity combines the joy of gardening, the love of flowers, and planning skills to create a sunflower house. Kids will get a kick out of witnessing the “walls” grow until they form a garden hideaway. Plus, it adds color and intrigue to your landscaping.
Get ahold of some SunPrint paper and have your children make some sun prints. The activity encourages creativity, and the results can be absolutely gorgeous. Consider getting a multicolored paper pack to help expand the children’s artist range. The project can involve leaves, pebbles, and even sticks. A beautiful and interactive project.
Flex your children’s building skills by challenging them to design and construct a twig tent. Once it is finished, the on-the-ground treehouse will be a temptation all on its own to getting the children outside. A great activity that will continue to bring joy for weeks or even months.
Water painting is an easy and cheap way to keep kids entertained and outdoors. All you need is water, a container, and a sponge, a brush, or even a finger to get them making evaporating creations. Then, once they’re bored of that, you can have them play “Sink or Float?” with the remaining water in their bucket.
A nice project to get the creative juices going is making wind catchers. First, the kids need to get out in nature and hunt down supplies; then they need to brainstorm ways of assembling them together. Make great Halloween decorations if hung in some spooky trees.
Word Hunt in Nature
Preschoolers will love playing Word Hunt in Nature. It’s a fun, interactive outdoor game that is practically free to play and helps kids learn their letters. After all, the best way for this age group to learn is through play.
Zentangle Rocks is a relaxing way to decorate pebbles by using patterns. Smooth rocks and permanent markers will provide the best results. But if children are young, it might be worth your sanity to use washable ink—a pleasant way to hang outdoors with the kids.