Nowadays, the inside of the house seems so much more exciting than the outdoors and it can be a challenge to get anyone, let alone kids, out the door. Luckily, we at Birda have some foolproof ways to get outside, enjoy nature and almost certainly get muddy along the way! We’ve curated a list of the best outdoor activities for kids to make the most of the time in nature; they’re all easy and accessible and will help you and your kids foster a healthy mindset for curiosity, exploration and cooperation.
We thought we’d start with an old favourite but perhaps one for the end of the day as it’s almost certainly going to get a bit messy. Kids have an incredible imagination, so why not harness it with a mud kitchen. If you have old pots and pans to use too then that’s even better. Anything’s on the menu! Mud pies, pancakes or soup – just remind your kids not to eat any! These outdoor activities are particularly good for young children as it’s multi sensory. It’s very tactile too and can be used to teach fine motor skills as well as having a lot of fun along the way.
Gardening with Kids
Growing vegetables is a great outdoor activity and teaches kids a lot about care and nurture but also teaches patience and reward. By starting a vegetable garden in the early spring, many of the fruits and vegetables will be ready to harvest by summer and your kids can help them along the way. For older kids, you can combine this with a nature diary to document the changes seen in your garden over the months. A great activity which teaches care and precision and results in a wonderful homegrown meal.
Go on a Colour Hunt
This is another great multi sensory activity which is incredibly fun, cheap and gets children exploring their environment more closely. You can use colour match cards (like those found at homeware stores) or simply challenge your child to find an object of a certain colour. You’ll be surprised how vibrant the forest floor is when looked at closely. The colour match cards can be easier and more subtle when trying to search for a particular colour too and children can lay their items on the cards to ensure a close match.
Make a Journey Stick
This is one of our favourite activities to do when out on a walk. As you wander, collect objects along the way to help you tell your story of what you saw, heard, smelt or touched. These could be feathers, rocks, shells, flowers or anything else. You can attach them to a long stick with string or tape and use that to retell your journey. This activity is another multi sensory one and can be a great way to engage more fully with the natural world.
Start A Nature Journal
This activity often takes a while to get into but once they do, your kids will be sure to enjoy it. All you need is a notebook, pencils and an envelope to collect natural items from your day. The best part about this activity is that it can be continued at home or at a later date. Items collected can be stuck into the notebooks later on and written about when the weather is bad. A nature journal can span for a few days or a few years and as time goes on, you’ll be sure to notice changes in the environment as the seasons progress.
You can also track your nature adventures and grow your bird species list. Record your sightings and your adventures on the free Birda app!
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Another idea for outdoor activities is to pack your crayons and some paper and head out into nature. You can create some really interesting textures and patterns through these rubbings and it’s actually a very useful tool to teach kids a bit about the different features of trees and plants. A step on from this is finding faces in your rubbings. How many can your kids spot when they get home?
Night-time can be a fantastic way to explore your environment. With our sense of sight diminished, every small sound and smell is heightened. Taking a torch or a lantern out to navigate you can see a totally different world. Insects are often more active at night away from predators although you might be lucky enough to see foxes, badgers or hedgehogs on your travels. Depending on where you live, you don’t even have to be out past their bedtime!
A fantastic activity for kids and adults alike, geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt. With a little research online you’ll be able to find a selection of geocaches in your area; green for the easiest to find and red for the hardest. Once you have your supplies and a route it’s time to head out in search of your prize. This is a great family or group activity as many eyes make the job considerably easier. Along the way you can look at other interesting natural phenomena, perhaps combining them with a nature journal as previously mentioned.
This is a great way to use up old cardboard rolls – make them into binoculars! Decorate them with felt tip to really make them personal and then head out in search of wildlife. It’s amazing how much more we can see when we really focus on a small area in front of us without the distraction of our peripheral vision.
Make Bird feeders
Bird feeders are a great way to not only get your kids outside and experiencing nature but also helping the environment. All you need for natural bird feeders is some large pinecones, some lard or vegetable lard, and some nuts and seeds. Mix the lard and seeds together and push it into the cones. You can hang these all around the garden and see what comes to visit. This is a fantastic way to teach kids about the importance of protecting the environment but also monitoring what’s around. You can use the Birda app to help track all the species you’ve spotted too!
Outdoor learning is a crucial part of any child’s development and nurturing an interest in nature is easy and fun. Hopefully these have given a taste of what can be done but these are just a few of our favourite activities to get you started. If you have any suggestions please let us know!