10 Great Nature Activities for Kids
Celebrate spring with these fun outdoor games for kids
1. Bake in a mud kitchen. Sure mud pies are great, but don't let backyard bakers overlook the beauty of mud muffins, loaves, cakes, or cookies. Bring the right pans and spoons and cups and you can have hours of messy outdoor kitchen fun.
2. Paint with pine needles. Instead of paintbrushes, let the kids paint with found branch-or secure pine needs to a twig using a rubber band. You can even create from-nature paint by blending dark-colored produce, like beets or berries, with water. Use three parts water to one part vegetable and add corn starch to thicken. Strain and paint away! (See how it's done-and find more ideas for spring crafts for kids here.)
3. Create a nature memory game. You'll need a dozen small craft store boxes with lids for this activity. Start by taking the kids to seek out pairs of only-in-nature items, like two acorns, two maple leaves, two dandelions, two clovers, and more. Put each item in its own box, shut the lid, and-voilà-you've got a game of memory!
4. Build an aquascope. Take a peek into the wondrous underwater world of a pond or puddle with a homemade aquascope. Start with a cleaned empty 32-ounce yogurt tub. A grown-up can cut out the bottom of the container with scissors or an x-acto knife. Then kids can help stretch plastic wrap over the cut-out bottom and secure it with a rubber band. Then head outside where, with grown-up supervisions, kids can place the plastic wrap side into the water channel their inner Octonaut.
5. Go on a spring scavenger hunt. Make a picture checklist list of spring items and actions to spy during your outdoorsy scavenger hunt-like a squirrel, mud puddles, birds chirping, and more. Give out flower stamps or stickers for each item found.
6. Make an ABC nature book. Go for a walk (camera in hand) and seek out items to create a personalized alphabet book. Found an acorn? There's your letter A. A bird? You get the idea. Once all photos are taken, print them out, paste them in a photo album and label each one with the letter and the item the letter represents. For tricky letters-we're looking at you, X and Z-you can simply gather twigs and form the letter yourself.
7. Play color match. Go to your nearby paint or hardware store for paint chip cards. Then ask your children to help you find its made-in-nature counterpart. Once a kid finds a match (This flower looks just like Lemon Twist!), put a sticker on the corresponding paint sample.
8. Guess a tree's age. It's easy to see how old a tree was when was chopped down. We count the rings. But to learn the age of a still-standing tree, all you need to do is wrap a measuring tape around the widest part of the trunk. Convert those inches to years, and you have your tree's (approximate) age. Before measuring, have the kids guess how old the tree is.
9. Play Mystery Bag. Have teams of two (each with a grown-up and a kiddo) head outdoors to gather a variety of small items (keep a variety of textures and shapes in mind) that the other team must identify from touch alone. Once everything is in the bag, reach in, don't look, and guess what you're touching.
10. Make it rain-music. Next time spring showers are coming down, let everyone outside with spoons and metal pots, pans, and cake and muffin tins. Set everything up and listen to the different sounds.
Activities with small parts are not suitable for children under 3.