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In much of the northern hemisphere, longer days and warming temperatures are signaling to nature that it's slowly becoming safe to emerge from winter's dormancy. Many kids get excited to see the snow melting away, and warmer temperatures coaxing life to unfurl and start anew. You may even feel a spring in your step too, and you know what that means! It's time to get outside with your kids and enjoy all the fun springtime activities you can!
From climbing trees to creating native seed balls, we've collected 9 fun activities your kids will love. And if the shifting season has you looking for more environmental education resources, check out our sustainability for schools program! It's chock-full of age-appropriate lesson plans, fun activities, educational resources and more.
9 Fun Spring Activities Your Kids Will Love
1. Teach Them How To (Safely!) Climb A Tree
Tree climbing is a great way for kids to build confidence and gain strength, balance, and agility. Plus, it's just plain fun! Show them how to do it safely, and see how high they can get. Need a few pointers? Just find a tree with low branches and access points and test every branch to make sure it’s alive before resting your full weight on it. Resist the impulse to climb up to the top, as the branches there tend to be younger (and therefore more likely to break). And stay close to the trunk, where the branches are sturdiest. You’ve got this!
2. Make Nature Art
Have the kids collect a handful of leaves, ferns and flowers that draw their eye. Then, show them how to preserve their treasures! You’ll need 2 sheets of paper per pressing and a few heavy books. Carefully arrange the plant material on top of one sheet, then cover it with the second sheet and place between two heavy books. Add another heavy book on top and leave it for a few weeks. Once your pressings are ready, gather a few picture frames and, using clear glue, help them arrange their pressings and create a unique piece of artwork for their bedroom wall!
3. Get Up Close and Personal With Your Favorite Tree
Bark rubbings are a fun and easy way for your kids to explore the patterns and textures of nature. To start, gather up some crayons, tape, and kraft paper and head outside together. Help them find a tree with bumpy or otherwise interesting bark, secure the paper, give a quick demo, and then leave em’ to it! After, you can discuss how each tree has a different bark pattern, and share how to identify a tree by its bark and buds (this is the best way to identify deciduous trees during the winter). Bonus points if they find a sugar maple!
4. Capture Their Imagination With Fairy Houses
Stroll through the forest (or your garden), regaling your kids with stories of elusive fairies, elves and hobbits every step of the way. Encourage them to gather small sticks, pebbles, pinecones, acorns, moss, pine needles, etc. These will form the structure + provide decoration, too. Find a tree that feels appropriately mysterious and show them how to build a sturdy home for their tiny, elusive friends. Encourage them to get creative and add fun details like a moss roof, a pebble walkway, or a pinecone fence to ward off evil spirits!
5. Make a Boat Out of Tree Bark
Gather fallen scraps of bark for another fun creation: bark boats! Because most tree bark is buoyant, it’s a great boat-building material. In fact, Native Americans have used birch bark to construct their canoes + navigate treacherous waters for generations. To guarantee success, search for the flattest piece possible to form the hull (bottom) of your boat. Next, find and attach a straight stick to the hull (mud helps!) to form the mast. Finally, thread a fallen leaf or two to create “sails.” Now it’s time for her princess voyage in a stream, pond (or even a puddle). Let your kids take it from there!
6. Create Seed Balls
A great, hands-on craft to do with your kids, seed balls are also a valuable teaching tool for budding naturalists. Using native wildflower seeds and recycled paper, this activity will get your kids excited about gardening in a whole new way! Download our step-by-step "How to Make Seedballs" Guide to get all the details on how to combine wildflower seeds with moist paper to create plantable balls. Once you've built up a cache, it's time for the really fun part: dispersal! Some potential planting locations include trailsides, community spaces, meadows, gardens and anywhere else that could use a pop of color!
7. Play With Rocks
Send your kid outside to find a rock with at least one flat side. When they come back in, give it a good rinsing and pat it dry (them too, if necessary!). Now, you've got a blank canvas just waiting for their original artwork! So give em' some non-toxic paint and let them go wild! If they're stumped, get em' started with ideas like kind messages, silly faces, fun patterns, or secret signs. The possibilities really are endless! Want to spread some joy? Leave a few of the painted rocks in random places around town or in the great outdoors to help brighten someone else's day!
8. Make Dandelion Flower Crowns
Yellow is a joyful color, and dandelion has plenty to spare. Found everywhere from garden beds to cracks in concrete, this herb has a lot to teach us about resilience in the face of tough conditions. If your yard is unsprayed, let your kids harvest dandelions and make crowns by weaving or braiding the stems together. You can also use thin young (i.e. bendable) branches or craft wire to create a rounded frame first. Whether you then stage a Shakespeare-esque play on your lawn is totally up to you. We'll just say you might want to have a camera ready for any adorable acting debuts!
9. Make an Acorn Whistle
This activity is for older kids, as acorn caps may be too tempting for the younger ones: find an oak tree and have them collect a few caps. Then, teach them how to whistle! Here's how: make a V with your thumbs and hold the cap in your hands (with the top rim of it in the middle of the V). Place your top lip on your thumb nails and your bottom lip below your thumb knuckles, and blow! You may need to adjust your hold and angle to get it right, but you should end up with a loud, high-pitched whistle. You may soon regret teaching them this trick, but we bet they'll appreciate it!
Whatever else is going on in the world, spring is a season of hope, and we hope we’ve inspired you to get and get your kids engaged with nature! Have a budding naturalist on your hands? Check out our schools program for more fun activities and lesson plans! Or take it one step further and start a forest school!
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Meaghan works to share our story far and wide, manages our blog calendar, coordinates with the team on projects + campaigns, and ensures our brand voice is reflected across channels. With a background in communications and an education in environmental conservation, she is passionate about leveraging her creativity to help the environment!