Why it is Important to Let Our Kids Play In Nature?
Playing outside and enjoying the great outdoors and all it has to offer is great for our children’s mental and emotional well-being. Playing outside decreases the incidence of depression which is on the rise in children. It also increases their attention spans and decreases obesity (also on the rise).
Enjoying nature is a great way for children to gain an appreciation for the environment, their world, their ownership in keeping nature healthy. It also increases their independence, motor skills, and coordination.
So, let’s go play outside, engage in a little free play, and enjoy what nature has to offer!
These nature activities are only the beginning. There are more activities on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share ideas on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!
Catch Butterflies and Bugs
You must be gentle catching butterflies and moths. They have a special dust covering their wings that is needed for their health and ability to fly. (That’s why butterfly experts use nets.) And if you catch some butterflies or bugs, and place them in a jar to watch them, be sure to poke air holes in the top so they can breathe and let them go after an hour or so.
P.S. You can learn more about the bugs you catch by looking them up in a bug guide (book).
Look for the First Robin of Spring
Is it really spring yet if you haven’t seen a robin? What about those Canada Geese?
Track an Animal
When animals walk through fresh snow, mud, soft sand, or dirt they leave foot tracks (prints) you can follow. In most areas it is common to find bird tracks, dog tracks, cat tracks, and people tracks. But maybe you will even find racoon, deer, or bear tracks.
What kind of animal tracks do you see? Where did the animal go? If you can’t tell what kind of animal tracks you see, look it up in a book at the library.
Safety First: Wild animals can be dangerous. If you see a wild animal, stay far away.
Go Bird Watching
Grab the binoculars and go spot some birds. See if you can find a bird you have never seen before.
Curious about a bird you saw? Look it up in a bird guide. Bird guides can tell you all sorts of information about the birds you see.
Find Cloud Animals
Lie on your back and look at the clouds—whoa! Is that a giraffe?
Watch the Sunrise/Sunset
Have you ever seen a flash of green right at sunset? I haven’t, but I hear it is super-cool to see. Either way, your kids will get a kick out of seeing the sun come up or go down and see how the sky changes colours.
Look for Fossils
If you don’t have fossils in your area, you can create your own out of clay or draw a fossil imprint on a rock (or even use plastic dinosaur figurines) and bury them in a sandbox. See if you can unearth the dinosaur!
Look for the First Flower(s) of Spring
Is it a crocus? They used to be the first flower up when I was a kid.
If it isn’t spring… how about looking for the last flower of fall?
Blow the Fuzzy Seeds off Dandelions
Oh, and maybe don’t aim those seeds at mom’s garden or she’ll end up with a garden full of dandelions! (And not a happy mom.) However, you could try growing your own dandelions somewhere ‘safe’ like it a pot. 🙂
Make a Daisy Chain
You will need about 10-12 daisies with their stems attached in order to make a daisy chain.
How to make a daisy chain: In the first daisy, make a small slit in the stem a little way down (about an inch and a half) from the blossom. You can use your fingernail or a plastic knife to make a small slit. Thread the next daisy’s stem through the hole you just made. In the second daisy stem, make a slit just like in the flower before. Thread another daisy through this hole. Keep going until you have the length you need. Then tuck the stem ends together to make a circle and you have a crown, necklace, or bracelet/anklet.
Collect and Press Flowers
Place flowers you have picked between two pieces of newspaper. Put a flat, heavy object like a big book on top of the paper until the flowers are dry (a day or two). The book will press the flowers flat as they dry.
Once the flowers are dry you can glue them onto a memory box (see the craft page for instructions on how to make a memory box), glue them onto a homemade card, or simply admire them. (If you are placing them on a homemade card, cover it with clear MACtac or a similar product as it will help keep the flower from crumbling and breaking.)
Jump in a Pile of Leaves
Are the leaves falling off the trees? Rake them into a pile and then jump in them!
Climb a Tree
My daughter likes to sit in a tree with a book or a sketch pad. How about you?
Look for a Four-Leaf Clover
These are so hard to find! I’ve only found one after hours and hours and years and years of looking. (I still have it as I pressed it.) My mom is lucky in finding Four-Leafed Clovers. She always says, “I can never find them.” Then she bends over and picks one and says, “Oh, here’s one!” Once she found two in a row!!
Grow a Vegetable/Create a Window Farm
Did you know some people grow vegetables year round in their windows–they call them “window farms.” You can start one using large pop/soda/water bottles, plant pots, or whatever you have on hand. If you search for “window farms” on the internet you will be amazed at all the things people have used to create their farm. Some are simple, some are very complex.
Count Worms After the Rain
How many worms have come out onto sidewalks due to the rain? Are there any in need of rescue? Worm Squad to the Rescue!
Jump in Mud Puddles
Don’t forget to wear your rubber boots! Or not. Mud is ooey gooey fun between your toes–and oh, so cold!
Make Rivers Between Puddles
Join puddles together by digging a trench between them. How many can you connect?
Chase Rainbows and Look for a Pot of Gold at the End of a Rainbow
Some say Leprechaun’s hide their gold at the end of a rainbow. Can you find it?
Smell the Rain
During a thunder storm, look out your window and watch for lightning. When you see it flash across the sky, begin counting until you hear the accompanying thunder. (Thunder is the sound caused by lightning.)
Count slowly, one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, until the thunder comes. Take that number and divide it by 5. That is how many miles away the lightning is from you. Some people don’t divide by 5, and since we’re just having fun, you don’t have to either–unless you want to.
Safety First: During a thunder storm, stay out from under trees, in the water, and other areas that attract lightning.
Make Sand Angels
Like snow angels, but you make them in the sand.
To make a sand angel, lay on your back and move your arms and legs back and forth in the sand. Stand up and see your angel.
Dig a Hole
At the beach, in the garden, in the snow, in the leaves, in the mud, in the sandbox, in your mashed potatoes… the possibilities are almost endless.
Safety First: Be careful! Huge holes can cave in on themselves.
Make a Sandcastle
You will need damp sand to make a sandcastle. If the sand is too dry, add some water until it packs into shapes without crumbling.
Raid the recycle bin for old containers to pack the sand into. When you dump it out, it will make different buildings or parts of the sand castle. Yogourt containers, ice-cream pails, and margarine containers work well.
Decorate it! Add shells, leaves, twigs, seaweed, twigs, feathers, and whatever else you can find to decorate your sandcastle.
Make a Sand Creature/Sculpture
Pack damp sand into whatever shape you like. Using your hands, a small shovel or a stick, carve or shape your sculpture. (My favourite is a turtle because it is easy and you can decorate it with shells or easily sculpt in the texture of the shell with your hands.)
Make a Sand Chair
It’s a chair… made of sand!
Bury Your Legs in the Sand
Bury a Friend in the Sand
Safety First: Don’t cover their face. Also, don’t pile too much on them as sand is heavy and can make it hard for them to breathe.
Looking for more? Try these places as well:
Might I also suggest this time-saver…
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