Nature Activities For Kids This Summer
Does the novelty of having your kids home for the holidays quickly wear off as soon as they start screaming “I’m bored”? Are you looking to find ways to keep them amused that don’t involve a screen of some kind? Or alternatively, maybe they’re already interested in nature and you’re just looking for more ways to keep them entertained?
If any of that sounds like you then this list might be just what you need!
I really believe that a connection with nature is important for kids and adults alike and hope that something on this list sparks your imagination and inspires you to get your kids discovering the great outdoors. When I was younger I spent so much time outside playing, and it’s those days that I really remember!
Why not also check out my other list of 10 rainy day nature activities? Perfect to inspire you when the weather inevitably takes a turn for the worst.
Outdoor Nature Activities For Kids
Create a Bug Hotel
Insects are in decline, but hugely important. A bug hotel is a great way to provide a habitat for beneficial insects in your garden. So many gardens really aren’t critter friendly these days, we’re so obsessed with tidiness and often clear away any dead wood, fallen leaves, etc. in favour of perfectly manicured lawns. It may look nice, but it does nothing to help struggling wildlife. Habitat loss is a huge problem! I will be doing a full post on my own bug hotel at some point in the future, but until then check out this amazing post from the RSPB full of instructions and handy tips!
Pokemon Go Nature Walk
If your kids are into Pokemon Go then why not combine hunting for Pokemon with discovering real animals? I recently noticed some parents in my local park taking their littleuns out to catch Pokemon, which in itself isn’t a rare sight, but these guys stood out. They had their kids dressed up as explorers (you don’t have to go all out), carrying binoculars, and searching for real nature along the way. The kids were loving it, and not only were they finding Pokemon and getting some exercise, they were learning too. You could point out different types of plants, animal habitats – those places where real life Pokemon live and collect things for some of the other activities on my list. Even in an urban area, there is a lot to see!
Make Outdoors Art
As a kid this was something I did a lot with my friends. We’d go and collect petals, sticks, pebbles, and whatever else we could lay our hands on and create pretty pictures on the pavement or wall. You could also teach your youngsters about the alphabet by getting them to create letters out of the things that they find, or getting them to spell out their names or even the names of different things they’ve spotted whilst outside. Maybe you could get them to make bird pictures and teach them about the different birds near your home, or get them spelling out the names of trees from the leaves they’ve lost (great for Autumn). The possibilities are endless! If you’re feeling really creative why not embrace your inner Andy Goldsworthy and create some big land art pieces? If you live near a beach, use a stick to draw in the sand, or scratch designs into mud.
Nurture Their Imagination – Hunt for Fairies, Dinosaurs & More!
This was one of my favourite things to do when I was a kid. When I was really young I used to live near some marshland (Tywardreath Marsh if you’re a Cornwall local) and my mum used to walk me through whilst telling me stories of dinosaurs. My imagination would run wild and even as an adult going there brings up feelings of nostalgia!
When I got a bit older, my friend’s older sister would take us into the local woodland to search for fairies, all the while making up fantastical stories that we loved. Whenever I cross the bridge I still remember running across it to avoid the troll that used to live underneath! This is a great activity to combine with teaching them about nature. For example, did you know different fairies favour certain plants? By including the classic flower fairies you could open up a whole world of educational play!
Make a Den
Every kid loves making dens, don’t they? I certainly did. I think they may be called forts elsewhere in the world, but I’m from the UK and more familiar with the word den. This is a great activity to teach social skills and team work as kids can work alongside their friends to carry sticks and decide on design choices. They’ll be learning practical engineering skills whilst having fun – it takes planning to decide where to put those sticks and how to balance them together! They’ll also be nurturing their creativity and imagination. How will they decorate it and add their own personal touches? What will it become afterwards? A castle, a cave, or a fortress, perhaps? It’s a really hands on tactile activity that has the potential to teach so much.
Stacking stones is a great beach activity, and wonderful for teaching patience! Flat stones are the easiest to stack, but you can always up the challenge by picking irregular shapes. Not only are they great for concentration, they can help kids learn about balance, gravity, and building three dimensional forms. If you’re on the beach it’s fine to leave them, but if you’re out in the countryside it’s good practice to dismantle the stone cairns before you leave as they may confuse hikers that use the stone stacks left by previous hikers to navigate. It’s also good practice to not dig up stones for your cairn as moving rocks can lead to soil erosion as well as disturb animal habitats.
Collect Flowers, Stones, Feathers & Leaves
Whilst you’re out and about why not collect a few things for rainy day craft activities. You can collect flowers and leaves to press in a book which you can then utilise in art, bookmarks, greetings cards, and whatever else you fancy! If you don’t know how to do this then check out this great article from BestGardening.com
Make Mud Pies, Magic Potions, & More
Too many parents are worried about making sure their kids don’t get dirty, but I spent so much of my childhood covered in mud and it never did me any harm. In fact, playing in dirt is said to build the immune system with a lack of early exposure being thought to lead to an increased risk of autoimmune diseases based on studies done on mice. Where I grew up there was a little stream and I would spend hours splashing around in it, collecting petals and other things to make “rainbow stew” which was essentially a bucket full of mud, flowers, leaves, and whatever else I could lay my hands on.
Go on a Sensory Walk
Change your walk up a little by getting kids to search for textures, smelling the flowers, or sitting down and listening to the nature sounds around them. Engage their senses and watch as they start to appreciate things in a different way! You could always use your phone to record sounds of the woodland to listen at home as part of an educational activity. Why not do this multiple times throughout the year and take note of how the smells, sights, and sounds of a favourite location change with the seasons? How does Spring smell in comparison to Autumn? What different sounds can you hear in Winter as oppose to summer? Take notes in your nature journal!
Scatter Wild Flower Seeds in Your Garden
This is a great way to attract beneficial insects to your garden and help attract wildlife. Wild flowers not only look gorgeous, but are essential for pollinators. If you’d like to know more then check out Grow Wild UK!
Do a Two Minute Beach Clean
Okay, this might not sound too fun, but what better way to teach your kids not to litter and explain to them the damaging effects that plastic waste is having on our ocean? Not only will you be teaching your children to have respect for the natural world, you’ll be doing a public service and helping the environment at the same time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on the beach either, there’s litter everywhere which has a horrible effect on wildlife. I always make sure to take a bin bag with me on every walk I go so that I can clean up after other people, something my mum instilled in me as a child!
Make Miniature Friends
You’ll be amazed how many bugs you can find if you really look! Hedgerows are full of life, or if you fancy sticking closer to home then lift up logs and flower pots in the garden to find woodlouse, centipedes, and worms. Just remember to teach your kids back to put everything back where they found it and respect the creatures they find!
Nature I-Spy or Scavenger Hunt
I used to love I-Spy and scavenger hunts as a kid and having a theme is a great way to make it an educational experience too. You could get them to search for a certain amount of things of a different colour, things that feel a certain way (spiky, wet, rough, smooth, etc.), or use my free printable scavenger hunt list! There’s also things like the i-SPY Nature books for kids from Collins to check out. (Please note, this is an affiliate link – it won’t cost you any extra to purchase, but I will receive a small commission. My friend’s kids love these books!)
Take Texture Rubbings
I have so many fond memories of doing this as a kid! All you need is some paper and some crayons. Head outside and get them to explore textures of leaves, bark, and stones by placing the paper on top of them and rubbing with a crayon. Try and pick up all the tiny details! What you do with them afterwards is up to you… How about adding them to a nature scrapbook or cutting out the shapes of leaves and using them to make an autumn wreath or hanging mobile? You could also stick them to cardboard and make hanging gift tags or a mobile for their bedroom, the possibilities are endless!
Make Flower Crowns
Make them feel like the lead in their own fairy tale by threading daisies and other flowers together in a chain to make a crown. I’m sure you all made daisy chains as a kid, so I doubt you need me to tell you how to do them, but perhaps you hadn’t thought of everything you can teach your children at the same time. It’s a great way to teach respect for the natural world by being mindful of what you pick. Preferably only pick from your own garden and always leave more than you take so that there’s plenty for the animals that rely on them! You can also teach about pollinating insects that rely on the flowers to survive.
Search For Faces
How many faces can you find in nature? Trees quite often have amazing ones! If you’ve got a digital camera then why not take photos of all the faces you find on a walk and use them for collages or add them to a nature journal. You could even add leaves and pressed flowers or dried grasses for hair!
So many people start the holidays with amazing intentions that soon fade when the weather turns bad, leaving children sat in front of a computer or television screen whilst it rains outside. Remember to check out my list of 10 rainy day nature activities for children too!