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15 Nature Activities for Kids: A Guide to Outdoor Learning At Home

The great outdoors is a playground of learning opportunities for children. From the rustle of leaves underfoot to the intricate patterns of a spider's web, nature offers endless avenues for exploration and discovery. But how can you make the most of this natural classroom right in your garden or local park?

In this guide we delve into 15 hands-on nature activities that promise not just fun but also a rich educational experience for your children. Each activity is designed to be more than a fleeting pastime; they are stepping stones to a lifelong relationship with the natural world.

Whether you're a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a beginner looking to spend quality time with your family, this guide has something for everyone. And if you're interested in deepening your child's outdoor learning experiences, you'll find more resources and sessions here.

Ready to embark on a journey of discovery? Let's get started!

1. Nature Colour Wheel Art

What You'll Need:

  • A large piece of cardboard

  • Paints in various colours

  • Natural items (leaves, flowers, twigs, etc.)

  • Glue

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Cut a large circle out of the cardboard.

  2. Divide the circle into segments like a pie chart and paint each segment a different colour.

  3. Go on a nature walk and collect natural items that match the colours on your wheel.

  4. Glue the items onto their corresponding coloured segments.

  5. Once dry, display your Nature Colour Wheel in a prominent place.

Why We Like It:

This activity encourages kids to observe the variety of colours in nature, promoting mindfulness and attention to detail. It also integrates art and science, making learning multidimensional.

2. Nature Wind Chimes

What You'll Need:

  • Natural materials (pinecones, shells, small logs)

  • String

  • Scissors

  • A sturdy stick or dowel

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect various natural materials that can be strung together.

  2. Cut varying lengths of string.

  3. Tie one end of each string to a natural item and the other end to the stick or dowel.

  4. Once all items are attached, find a nice spot to hang your wind chime.

Why We Like It:

Creating a wind chime helps kids understand balance and symmetry. It also encourages them to appreciate the beauty and utility of natural materials.

3. Woodland Scavenger Hunt

What You'll Need:

  • Printed or handwritten list of items to find

  • Small bags for collecting items

  • Pencils or markers

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Prepare a list of natural items for kids to find (e.g., a pinecone, a feather, a yellow leaf).

  2. Hand out the lists and small bags to participants.

  3. Set a time limit and let the scavenger hunt begin.

  4. Once time's up, gather to discuss the items found.

Why We Like It:

A scavenger hunt teaches kids to be observant and to identify different natural elements. It also incorporates physical activity and can be a fun, competitive way to learn.

4. Minibeast Hunt

What You'll Need:

  • Magnifying glass

  • Small jars or containers

  • Identification chart or app for bugs

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Equip each child with a magnifying glass.

  2. Go to a garden or wooded area and start looking for bugs.

  3. Use the jars to temporarily house interesting finds for a closer look.

  4. Use an identification chart or app to learn about the bugs you find.

  5. Release the bugs back into their natural habitat.

Why We Like It:

This activity helps kids understand the role of insects in our ecosystem. It encourages curiosity and scientific investigation.

5. DIY Bird Feeders

What You'll Need:

  • Empty toilet paper rolls

  • Peanut butter (or honey works if allergies are a concern)

  • Birdseed

  • String

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Spread a layer of peanut butter over the outside of a toilet paper roll.

  2. Roll the peanut butter-covered toilet paper roll in birdseed until well-coated.

  3. Thread a piece of string through the hole in the roll and tie a knot, creating a loop for hanging.

  4. Hang your DIY bird feeder on a tree branch and wait for the birds to come.

Why We Like It:

Making a bird feeder helps kids learn about local bird species and the importance of providing food for wildlife, especially in urban areas where natural food sources may be scarce.

6. Nature Art Prints

What You'll Need:

  • Leaves, flowers, or other flat plants

  • Washable paint

  • Paper

  • Paintbrush

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect leaves, flowers, or other flat plants from your garden or a nearby park.

  2. Apply a thin layer of washable paint to one side of the leaf or flower.

  3. Press the painted side onto a piece of paper.

  4. Carefully lift it off to reveal your print.

  5. Repeat with different leaves and colours to create a nature-inspired masterpiece.

Why We Like It:

This activity encourages creativity and gives children a new way to look at the natural world. It also helps develop fine motor skills through the painting and pressing process.

7. Nature Mandalas

What You'll Need:

  • Various natural materials (leaves, twigs, stones, flowers)

  • A flat surface (ground, large piece of paper)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect a variety of natural materials.

  2. Find a flat surface to work on.

  3. Start placing your materials in a circle, working your way inwards with different layers and patterns.

  4. Once completed, take a moment to admire your work before leaving it for others to discover.

Why We Like It:

Creating mandalas is a form of art therapy. It can be a meditative process that helps improve focus and relaxation. It also teaches symmetry and pattern recognition.

8. Leaf Rubbing Art

What You'll Need:

  • Leaves with prominent veins

  • Thin paper

  • Crayons or coloured pencils

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect leaves that have clearly visible veins.

  2. Place a leaf under a sheet of thin paper.

  3. Use the side of a crayon or coloured pencil to gently rub over the area where the leaf is.

  4. Watch as the intricate details of the leaf appear on the paper.

Why We Like It:

Leaf rubbing is a great way to explore textures and details in nature. It also helps children develop an understanding of plant biology in a hands-on way.

9. Nature Memory Game

What You'll Need:

  • Muffin tray

  • Natural items (flowers, leaves, rocks, etc.), two of each for matching

  • Card circles cut to the size of the muffin cups

  • Optional: Markers for numbering or decorating the card circles

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect pairs of natural items from your surroundings. Ensure you have two of each item for matching.

  2. Place one item from each pair into the cups of the muffin tray.

  3. Cut out card circles that fit the size of the muffin tin cups. Optionally, number or decorate them.

  4. Cover each muffin tin cup with a card circle.

  5. Players take turns lifting two card circles to reveal and find matching items.

  6. If a match is found, the player removes the card circles and keeps them, then takes another turn.

  7. If no match is found, replace the card circles and try to remember their locations for future turns.

  8. Continue playing until all items are matched. The player with the most matches wins.

Why We Like It:

This game is excellent for enhancing memory and observational skills. It introduces children to various natural elements in a tactile way. The game can be adapted for different educational themes like science, sensory exploration, and maths, making it a versatile and enriching activity.

10. Nature Journaling

What You'll Need:

  • A blank journal or notebook

  • Pencils, coloured pencils, or watercolours

  • Magnifying glass for detailed observations

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Take your journal and art supplies outdoors.

  2. Spend some time observing your surroundings.

  3. Write down your observations, thoughts, and questions.

  4. Sketch or paint what you see, whether it's a landscape, a plant, or an animal.

  5. Use a magnifying glass for detailed observations and sketches.

Why We Like It:

Nature journaling encourages mindfulness and observational skills. It's also an excellent way for children to practice their writing and artistic skills while connecting with nature.

11. Nature's Paintbrushes

What You'll Need:

  • Sticks

  • Leaves, pine needles, or grass

  • Rubber bands

  • Paint

  • Paper

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect sticks and various natural materials like leaves, pine needles, or grass.

  2. Attach the natural materials to the end of the sticks using rubber bands to create a brush.

  3. Dip your nature-made brush into paint.

  4. Use it to paint on paper, experimenting with different strokes and textures.

Why We Like It:

This activity encourages creativity and resourcefulness. It also helps kids understand that tools can be made from natural materials, fostering a sense of sustainability.

12. Build a Bug Hotel

What You'll Need:

  • Old wooden pallets or logs

  • Straw, leaves, and twigs

  • Mud or clay

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Stack wooden pallets or logs to create the structure of your bug hotel.

  2. Fill the gaps with straw, leaves, and twigs.

  3. Use mud or clay to seal any large gaps.

  4. Place your bug hotel in a quiet spot in your garden and watch as it becomes a habitat for various insects.

Why We Like It:

Building a bug hotel teaches kids about different habitats and the importance of biodiversity. It's a hands-on way to learn about ecology and conservation.

13. Nature Shadow Drawing

What You'll Need:

  • Paper

  • Pencils or chalk

  • Natural objects (leaves, flowers, etc.)

  • Sunlight

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Place a sheet of paper on the ground.

  2. Arrange natural objects on the paper.

  3. Wait for the sun to cast shadows of the objects onto the paper.

  4. Trace the shadows with pencils or chalk.

  5. Remove the objects to reveal your shadow art.

Why We Like It:

This activity helps kids understand the concept of light and shadow. It also encourages observational skills and artistic expression.

14. Nature Collage

What You'll Need:

  • Natural materials (leaves, twigs, flowers, etc.)

  • Large piece of paper or cardboard

  • Glue

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Collect a variety of natural materials during a nature walk.

  2. Arrange your collected items on a large piece of paper or cardboard.

  3. Once you're happy with your design, glue the items in place.

  4. Allow time for the glue to dry before displaying your nature collage.

Why We Like It:

Creating a nature collage helps develop spatial awareness and planning skills. It also encourages kids to appreciate the beauty and diversity of natural materials.

15. Nature Bingo

What You'll Need:

  • Bingo cards with pictures or names of natural items

  • Small objects or markers to cover the bingo spots

  • A bag or container

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Create bingo cards with pictures or names of natural items like leaves, rocks, or birds.

  2. Distribute the cards and markers to the players.

  3. Draw items from a bag or container and call them out.

  4. Players cover the corresponding spot on their card with a marker.

  5. The first person to get five in a row shouts "Bingo!" and wins.

Why We Like It:

Nature Bingo is an engaging way to learn about different natural elements. It also helps improve listening and identification skills, making it both fun and educational. In summary, these 15 nature activities offer a comprehensive approach to engaging with the outdoors, making them ideal for families and educators alike. Each activity is designed to provide both educational value and hands-on experience, aligning perfectly with the ethos of Greenways Forest School. Whether you're planning a weekend outing or looking to integrate more nature-based learning into your routine, this list serves as a well-rounded starting point for anyone interested in deepening their connection with the natural world.


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