Why is being outdoors so good for kids? Sure, they get some fresh air and sunshine. But – it also gives them time to unplug, learn something new, or create a meaningful bond with nature. Luckily, there is no shortage of nature activities for kids!
Here are eight great ways for kids to spend time in nature while also having a ton of fun.
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Outdoor adventures await!
Geocaching is like a modern-day treasure hunt. Instead of using paper maps and compasses, geocachers rely on the Geocache app on their phones and GPS to find the treasure.
And what does this treasure look like, you might wonder?
The cache can be as simple as a Tupperware, or it might be a weather-proof container specifically for geocaching. Typically, there is nothing of monetary value in the cache. Instead, you’ll find custom trinkets that others have left behind or perhaps little metal medallions called geocoins.
Geocaching helps children (and adults too!) improve their map-reading skills, takes explorers to unfamiliar places off the beaten track, and can be a hilarious way to test your detective skills. Geocaching has grown tremendously popular since it first started in 2000.
A very well-reviewed, rugged, handheld navigator with support for paperless geocaching and up to 20 hours of use on two AA batteries. IPX7 waterproof, WAAS enabled, and preloaded with a worldwide base map.
You can find geocaching options ranging from easy and kid-friendly to very difficult.
If you’re not sure where to find the best geocaches around your neck of the woods – check out the Geocaching app in Google Play and the App Store.
(There are countless thousands of geocaches within the the free Geocaching app. I can’t believe there are so many. Geocaching is booming!)
Take an Educational Walk
In some ways, going for a walk sounds too simple to be entertaining, especially when it’s compared to something as captivating and adrenaline-inducing as a video game or a movie.
However, a walk doesn’t have to be a dull, humdrum affair. An engaging walk can be an educational experience or a mindfulness exercise.
If you have a preschooler, take them on a walk and challenge them to:
- Find a series of items, one for every color of the rainbow
- See how many different shapes they can spot
- Search for unicorns. Or birds. Or – bunnies! (Or any fun creature that lurks nearby!)
If you have a school-age child, task them with:
- Focusing on the world at our feet (How many bugs can they spot?)
- Paying attention to the growth of the plants you pass. Repeat the walk a few times over a month and watch how the plants evolve.
Fun activities for older kids:
- Using walking as a time to practice mindfulness. Get them to focus on clearing their minds and relaxing their bodies.
- Contemplating the history of a place. What do they think this place looked like ten years ago? 50? 100?
- Instill the benefits of exercise and enjoying the outdoors!
These ideas and more come from Gillian Judson’s book A Walking Curriculum: Evoking Wonder and Developing Sense of Place.
This is a great resource for educators and parents who want to take student learning outdoors. It includes 60 easy walking-focused activities, designed to broaden the kids' awareness and wonder in nature.
Learn to Hike
Hiking is the perfect way for older children and teenagers to build a positive relationship with exercise at a young age, explore their community, immerse themselves in nature and learn more about local flora and fauna. As children grow, they may seek more challenging adventures!
However, hiking in the wilderness is not without its dangers. Accidents can happen, and people can become lost. The Hug-a-Tree and Survive program teaches children how to stay safe if they do become lost.
It’s also wise to teach young hikers the importance of being prepared. Complete a trip plan that outlines how long your hike is, what route you’re taking, and approximately what time you will be back.
Leave your trip plan with a friend! That way, if something happens, there is someone who knows where to look for you.
Prepared hikers should have the following items in their backpacks for a day trip:
- Extra clothing (layers are best!), including rain gear
- Fire-making materials
- Trail mix and water
- Emergency blanket
- Map or GPS
- Signaling mirror
- First Aid Kit
It’s also crucial that we are good stewards of our environment when we visit the great outdoors. These wild spaces can be surprisingly fragile, and we want them to last for many years.
Remember the following tips while you’re out in the woods:
- Give animals lots of space.
- Keep pets under control at all times.
- Take only photos. Leave only footprints.
- Walkthrough puddles, not around them, to reduce trail erosion.
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Herbalism for Kids is a wonderful 4-week journey into herbalism for kids of all ages. It's chock-full of engaging, hands-on educational activities and fun, designed to spark their curiosity and interest in the wild world of plants.
Week 3 is my favorite - Have Fun in the Kitchen! This lesson is packed full of kid-friendly herbal recipes and treats - how about some herb ice cream, yummy popsicles, or Flower Power Jigglers? Then, we'll make some herbal playdough!
Sign up a single camper or your entire family!
Some rocks have distinctive characteristics!
Here’s what I mean.
Jasper is bright red. Quartz has a tell-tale shimmer. Volcanic rocks? They’re full of holes! Jet forms by putting wood under enormous pressure – and it often floats.
Rockhounders use their knowledge of local geology to find unique minerals and gemstones in their environment. Every place has unique geology – and it can be fun to see what makes your home unique.
Many communities have rockhounding clubs for adults and kids, and there are many great books about identifying stones.
Kids can identify and catalog their rocks and minerals with this fascinating field guide! Explore 150 different rocks, with step-by-step instructions for testing and identifying the one you find yourself. Includes plenty of notebook space to record your data!
This site has a comprehensive guide on how to start rockhounding.
Go out and start a rock collection today!
Build a Birdhouse
Kids love to build birdhouses. They accomplish a small carpentry project, and they get to enjoy watching birds use them. Birdhouses also provide a tremendous opportunity to learn more about local bird varieties and their lifecycles.
There are many ways to build a birdhouse! Also – different birds are attracted to various kinds of birdhouses. So, if your kids enjoyed making one birdhouse, consider building another and see who comes to roost.
Welcome birds to the backyard with this classic 6" tall birdhouse! Easy to make and suitable for kids aged 5 and older, it includes the wood pieces, a chain for hanging, paint, paint brush, nails, glue, and instructions.
Let me share a method that uses pieces of logs that would otherwise end up as firewood!
Here’s a crafty homemade birdhouse tutorial from SunCatcherStudio that uses pieces of logs that you would otherwise chuck in the fireplace!
If you’re looking for a classic birdhouse, check out Ana White’s $2 birdhouse. Ana White’s birdhouse makes clever use of picket fencing materials and is a perfect inspiration!
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Mason bees are solitary nesting bees that you can find throughout most of North America. They often make their homes in sandy areas or the hollow stems of dead plants.
These bees do not produce honey! But, they are powerhouse pollinators that are great friends to have in the garden.
Making a mason bee home can be a fun way to support local pollinator populations in your area and boost pollination in your garden.
You can make a mason bee home by drilling a series of holes into an untreated 4×4. Or, you can use a series of hollow bamboo pieces or paper straws. A tube with a diameter of 5/16 should suit your mason bees marvelously!
PS: If you want to learn how to make a mason house with some scrap lumber, check out this legendary mason bee house tutorial from Hobby Farms!
Harness the power of the sun to make s’mores or a grilled cheese sandwich! Here’s how.
Gather a pizza box, saran wrap, tin foil, and scotch tape. Then – kids can build a nifty makeshift solar oven! This science experiment demonstrates how solar energy converts into heat. Plus, who doesn’t love a good s’more?
If your kids decide that solar cooking is lots of fun – then consider grabbing a GoSun Solar Kitchen Pro if you want a significant outdoor cooking upgrade!
Follow the instruction in this video for more information on how to build a solar oven:
Flower pressing dates back to the 1500s. It can be as simple as picking a flower and putting it between the pages of a heavy book.
Throughout a couple of weeks, the pages absorb the moisture – and the flower preserves. The dried flowers are perfect for a wide variety of art projects.
Or – you can drape the dried flowers nearly anywhere you can imagine for an upgraded decor and fragrance!
(Try draping the dried flowers over your doorway, along your garden terrace, on your front porch – or even in your camper, RV, or walkway. They work anywhere and enhance any setting!)
This flower press kit includes a 4" press, glue, brush, double-side tape, and detailed instructions - perfect for kids aged 5 and older.
Outdoor Activities for Kids and Family!
There are a million ways to spend time in nature with your kids, and once you start, I think you’ll find you want to spend more and more time outside.
Whether you’re enjoying a hike, searching for rare stones, or doing some nature crafts, I hope that you and your kids find ways to make a habit of putting on your hats and getting outside!
But – which outdoor activities for kids do you like best?
Or, maybe we missed some of the best nature activities for kids?
Did we overlook something?
We love to hear your ideas!
Thanks so much for reading!
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