Nature Activities Kids

play-in-a-creek

Being in nature has a way of making almost everyone feel better. Science can explain the benefits quite articulately. I know from experience in myself and my three boys that the positive benefits are so great that they cannot even be measured. Being immersed in nature helps to decrease stress by lowering the stress hormone, cortisol. Calmness and increased sense of energy fill the mind and body within just a short amount of time. Positivity and creativity are more welcome effects of immersion in nature. I always enjoy just walking in nature but my boys benefit from more active engagement and rarely are interested in simply walking.

Remember to care for the natural world around you as you enjoy it. Take only pictures and leave only footprints!

If you plan to be outside during daytime hours, begin by protecting your skin.

Bonus : these can all be done while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet!

Photography Scavenger Hunt

This is a twist away from the traditional printable scavenger hunt, which we have never successfully completed due to lack of interest. Instead, using my cell phone as a camera, we take pictures of “anything that is interesting.” Doing this, requires attention and encourages observation. We take pictures of leaves, beautiful flowers, flowers of weeds which can also be quite beautiful, logs, branches, mushrooms, animals, anything you can see or think of! We look through the pictures afterwards and I encourage explanation about what was interesting. This connects me to the way my children perceive the world around them which is often quite different from myself!

Make sure that your camera has a high quality protective case before letting your kids use it!

Listen for Animals

As we walk through nature, we tend to make a ruckus which scares away all wildlife. If we are listening for animals, we step lightly and keep quiet so we can hear them. Pay attention to the animal sounds around you. Squirrels scurrying. Birds chirping – how many different songs can you hear? Coyotes at dusk. Bullfrogs in the evening. Bees buzzing. Take the same walk at different times of the day and hear different animals. This activity trains the sense of hearing which improves observation. It’s also a reminder and important life skill that we need to stop talking if we want to hear others. Listen and learn!

Look for Animals

This seems like it could be the same activity as listening but its not. You can hear animals far away and you can see small animals that never make a sound. This activity also requires quiet stealth. If you are parading through like a herd of elephants, all the animals will be hiding before you are even close. When you slow down and train your eyes to observe, animals are all around. We have been soaking up as much nature as possible. In the past week, my children have found a frog, toad, 8 snakes, 2 different baby birds, a nest of 6 baby bunnies, 2 crayfish, ducks, geese, swans, many fish and countless insects.

We take pictures when possible and pour over the cuteness of the animal and wonder at the ugliness of some! This provides opportunity to learn more about animals if they are interested. We can check out library books or google to find out more information. We learned that momma bunnies leave for the day and return at night. The nest full of baby bunnies was not abandoned – i.e. we don’t need to adopt them forever- mom will come back. Touching baby birds will discourage momma bird from caring for it but the same doesn’t apply to baby bunnies.

What does this animal eat? Is this animal always here or does it migrate in winter? Isn’t it interesting how some animals are camouflaged so well? Some animals freeze and stay completely still when being approached while others run (or hop) and hide. How does the animal protect itself? How do you know if the snake is poisonous (or frog in some places)?

Please please please be kind to animals! Never do anything to hurt them. We observe to learn about the world and have a greater appreciation for the Creator who made them. If you do touch an animal, be sure it is not poisonous, can’t hurt you and be sure to wash or sanitize your hands afterwards. Never take an animal from nature. Observe, learn and appreciate.

Tree, Plant or Flower Hunt

Before you touch any plants, know which plants in your area can cause reactions. In our area, we have poison ivy, poison sumac and wild parsnip, all which cause skin reactions – so don’t touch!

This nature activity can be done almost anywhere! There are small green spaces even within the largest cities. Look for anything green, identify it if you can and talk about the plant. What do you notice about it? What make it unique? How is it adapted to survive? Can it be naturally found in your are or was it brought in?

We have a home in our neighborhood in central Illinois that has palm trees every summer. They are most certainly not native- they are brought in and replanted every year. We enjoy seeing them but they are not native to our area – oh sometimes how I wish they were!

If your child is interested, you can collect flowers or leaves then dry & press them to make a nature scrapbook. Make sure you have permission before collecting anything though.

Creek Play

While all the previous activities were quiet and clean – this is by far our FAVORITE! With three boys, it is loud and messy! We walk the path in a public park or nature center until we come to a creek. We do NOT cross the creek. Wearing water shoes, we walk in it. If it has been rainy, we also play in the mud! When I say we, I actually mean the kids. I walk through it and they roll in it! Afterwards, rinsing off occurs in the creek. Experience your senses!

Make sure you use good judgment. Have permission to use the creek and don’t use if there are dangerous animals like alligators, you should be able to see the bottom and it should not be too deep for your level of experience,

  • What do you see? Water, rocks, sand, plants, animals?
  • What do you hear? Rushing water, animals, cars in the distance?
  • What do you smell? Flowers, spring?
  • What do you feel? Is the water warm or cold? Is the sand soft or squishy? Are the rocks large or small and hurting your feet? Do you feel relaxed and calm? What stress can be swept away with the water?
  • Please don’t taste anything and wash your hands before you eat!

Get Out

Get outside and do some fun nature activities with your kids! Learn as much as you can, love intentionally and live full present. Today you are making the memories of tomorrow! God bless you and your family.

For more summer activities for kids, inside and outside, check out http://learnloveliveathome.com/summer-fun-activities-for-kids-in-2020/

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂

 

Affiliate disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Summer Fun Activities for Kids in 2020

Yesterday was the first day of summer break so we embarked on a leisurely bike ride through town. Baseball fields were empty and overgrown with weeds. Playgrounds have been roped off with CAUTION tape. The pool filling with crystal clear sparkling water will not be opening this year. Without warning, tears streamed down my face as I grieved the loss of our normal summer activites due to social distancing ordered in Illinois because of coronavirus. The tears flowed for a few moments as I hid my face from my three sons. Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that we are incredibly blessed and there are so many other fun things to do in summer. I just need to remember what they are so I can focus on what we can do rather than what we cannot. I hope you can find some inspiration as well.

Indoor Activities Without Screens (except as needed to learn a new skill)

  • Put together a puzzle (bonus if while listening to an audiobook)
  • Create a cardboard box maze for a marble or hamster
  • Make something yummy in the kitchen
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable
  • Plant indoor herbs and move outside when the weather is nice enough
  • Read and dramatize short stories out loud : more drama = better
  • Practice character voices reading out loud
  • Try to talk in a British accent
  • Then try a Scottish accent
  • Build a DaVinci Bridge from sticks (popsicle sticks, tree sticks, paper straws- be creative)
  • Learn to count to ten in Spanish
  • Practice counting to ten while doing jumping jacks
  • Learn to count to ten in Japanese
  • Practice counting while doing squats or push-ups (do them on your knees if you need to)
  • Create and send cards to family or friends
  • What and who do you really miss? Let them know how much you appreciate them
  • Clean, really deep clean- it feels so good afterwards!
  • Rearrange a room
  • Paint a room for a fresh look and feel
  • Learn a new way to make an old recipe Did you know you can cook eggs in the microwave?
  • Reminisce through old photos
  • Create a photobook
  • Read a book
  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Construct an obstacle course using pillows, chairs, broomsticks, blankets, anything
  • Have races through the obstacle course
  • Listen to encouraging music
  • Play balloon volleyball
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Play a board game
  • Construct a racetrack with painter’s tape
  • Draw a picture of something you love to do
  • Draw a picture of something unique to this year in your life
  • Sword drills with a bible
  • Pretend you are royalty
  • Dress up nicely to stay home and practice uber fancy table manners (stick your pinky out when you hold a cup!)
  • LAUGH out loud!! Smile often 🙂
  • Memorize your favorite poem and practice saying it in different voices
  • Learn to solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Kids swim in the bathtub with swimsuits, googles and waterproof toys
  • Play an intrument
  • Make a drum set with unbreakable pots, pans, bowls or tupperware – experiment with different sounds
  • Make a stringed instrument with rubber bands
  • Read a book from every continent
  • Read your favorite old picture books (do you still memorize them?!)
  • What have you wanted to do ….. someday?…. Do it this summer!
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Paint rocks
  • Campout with blankets and pillows to sleep in a different room
  • Take close up pictures of everyday objects in your house
  • Create “A Day In Your Life” album by taking pictures of everything for a day

Outside Activities – Practice “Leave No Trace.” Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints

If you are outdoors during daytime hours, don’t forget to protect your skin by wearing protective clothing and/or sunscreen.

While you are driving to your next destination, play games in the car!

  • Walk around the block, neighborhood or local school track
  • Plant flower seeds – Zinnias are our favorites because they bloom beautifully, cut well and attract butterflies
  • Bike ride in town
  • Bike ride on a trail (public restrooms may be closed)
  • Hike a trail – they are everywhere when you learn to look (in a MAPS app, look for nature center or park)
  • Bring a bag with you to pick up garbage you see on your walk and help your community
  • Play in a creek – this is an absolute FAVORITE! Creeks are everywhere (have permission) so when you hike a trail and find a creek, stop and play in it. What can you find in it? Bring a net and magnifying glass. Make boats from sticks and have boat races. Use stones to build a dam or interesting structure. Climb a wall of mud and slide down it. Fun is all around you!
  • Beach ball volleyballplay-in-a-creek
  • Waterballoon battle
  • Support local restaurants by ordering to-go and have a picnic
  • Backyard camping
  • Geacache
  • Stargazing at night
  • Campfire, roast hot dogs and toast marshmallows
  • Tell scary or silly stories around campfire or candle if you can’t have a fire (practice fire safety)
  • Say hello to neighbors you’ve never talked to (with social distance)hammock
  • Fishing
  • Wash the Car
  • Read a book in a hammock
  • Find shapes in clouds
  • Listen to the breeze through the trees
  • Feed the birds then watch them (how may different varieties can you attract?)
  • Camera scavenger hunt – have your kids take pictures of anything they find interesting then sit down together and let them tell you about their pictures. It’s fascinating to see the world from their view. Make sure to have a high quality protective case before handing it over to your kids.
  • More nature activities for kids

Games without Screens

  • WAR card game is easy for even the younger ages
  • Go FISH
  • TIC TAC TOE
  • Hangman
  • “Try to guess” quotes from books or movies you’ve enjoyed as a family
  • I SPY something….
  • Alphabet soup games – Start with A and go through Z trying to think of things that start with the letter…
    • Animals
    • Boys names
    • Girls names
    • Instuments
    • Cars
    • Movies
    • Songs
    • Foods
  • Guess Who
  • Memory
  • Clue
  • Anything from Melissa and Doug
  • Puzzles
  • Carcassone
  • Charades
  • Pictionary

Activities with Screens

There are no shortage of games for kids to play but I try to find sources that bring some value to the fun.

  • Search “How to draw….” in YouTube to learn to draw anything you want
  • Zoom games
  • “Smarter Every Day” YouTube channel
  • Learn Our History to watch cartoons and learn all about US History (we stream just for the summer)
  • Operation Math or Math Evolve app to practice Math facts
  • Mindbenders apps to encourage deductive reasoning
  • Greek Latin Word Roots apps
  • Stack the States App
  • Stack the Countries App
  • Nitrotype to practice typing
  • Mekorama to practice spacial reasoning
  • Brain Out to practice thinking outside the box
  • Tinkercad to learn 3D Design
  • Chess online or app
  • Marco Polo to send video messages to family and friends from a safe social distance
  • Audible App
  • Bible App for Kids
  • Monument app for 3D puzzles
  • Math Analogies for math challenges
  • Camping with Grandpa App
  • Starfall online or app for preschool to 2nd grade for learning through songs

Conclusion

Coronavirus, or COVID 19, has changed everything. What has not changed is my determination to learn as much as I can, love intentionally and live fully. I encourage you to do the same! Today you are making the memories of tomorrow!!!

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂