9 fun nature-inspired activities for kids in spring
Meaghan Weeden | April 28, 2020 | 5 min read
Tired of homeschooling? Let nature do the teaching for you!
This may be a spring like no other, but look outside and you’ll see that the sun is still shining, the birds are singing, and wildflowers are nudging their way past last fall’s leaves. Nature doesn’t stop blooming, and neither should you or your kids! There’s plenty of fun to be had close to home — and all the better if you can get to a nearby forest for some woodland adventures (following all proper social distancing protocols, of course).
Below are 9 fun nature-inspired activities your kids will love - and if you're looking for more educational resources, check out our T.R.E.E.S. curriculum.
Here's 9 fun nature-inspired 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 far they can get. The steps? 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 keep close to the trunk, where the branches are sturdiest. You’ve got this!
2. MAKE FRAME-ABLE ART
Have the kids collect a handful of leaves, ferns, and flowers that they love. 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. Then, get the frames and clear glue ready to arrange the 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 to explore the patterns and textures of nature. So gather up some crayons, tape, and craft paper and head outside. Help them find a tree with bumpy or otherwise interesting bark, secure the paper, give a quick demo, and leave em’ to it! After, you can discuss how the patterns are different on each tree, and teach them how to identify a tree by its bark and buds (this is the best way to identify deciduous trees during the winter). Bonus if they find a sugar maple!
4. Capture their imagination with fairy houses
Head into the forest (or your garden), regaling your kids with stories of elusive fairies, elves, or hobbits. Encourage them to gather small sticks, pebbles, pinecones, acorns, moss, pine needles, and anything else that catches their eye. 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 elusive friends. Encourage them to get creative and add fun details like a moss roof, a pebble walkway, or a pinecone fence to keep evil sprites away.
5. SAIL OFF INTO THE SUNSET
Gather fallen scraps of bark for another fun creation: bark boats! Because most tree bark is buoyant, it’s a great boat-making material. In fact, Native Americans used birch bark to construct their canoes + navigate treacherous waters. To guarantee success, look for the flattest piece possible — this will form the hull (bottom) of the boat. Next, find and attach a straight stick to the hull (mud helps!) — this will form the mast. Finally, thread a fallen leaf or two to form “sails.” Now it’s time for the princess voyage in a puddle or pond. Let your kids take it from there!
6. create seed balls and distribute them at random
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 and then find the best place to leave them. Some ideas include trailsides, community spaces, and anywhere else that could use a pop of color!
7. Play with rocks
Send your kid outside to find a cool rock. When they come back in, give it a good rinsing and pat it dry (them too, if necessary!). Now, it’s a blank canvas just waiting for their original artwork! Give em' some non-toxic paint and let them go wild! If they're stumped (pardon the tree pun), get em' started with ideas like kind messages, silly faces, fun patterns, secret communications, and more. The possibilities really are endless! If they make a bunch, you could even leave the rocks in random places around town or in the great outdoors to help brighten someone else's day.
8. MAKE DANDELION 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 (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 the adorable results!
9. make an acorn whistle
This 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, show them how to whistle with them! 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). Put your top lip on your thumb nails and your bottom lip below your thumb knuckles, and blow! You may have 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 love it!
Whatever's 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 page for more fun activities and lesson plans! Or take it one step further and start a forest school!