Benefits For Connecting Kids to Nature and 25 Fun Nature Activities
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
by Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS
Play is natural for children. Playing outside allows children to explore, have adventures and learn about the world. What does mud feel like? How fast can I slide down the slide? Where do different bugs live? We can learn new things through our senses and being outside allows us to have a multi sensory experience. Yes, you can do some of these things without going outside but the experience is not the same. The more access, proximity to, and time spent outdoors and in green spaces is positively associated with higher concentration, greater self-control, and increased memory and academic success (Chawla, 2015).
Richard Louv author of Last Child In The Woods discussed that “Parents already have difficulty balancing work and family life, so adding nature experience can seem like a chore. But another way to view this is that nature is an antidote to stress reduction, greater physical health, more creativity, a deeper sense of spirit, etc… these are the rewards when a family invites nature in.” (p.163).
Here’s a list of 25 fun activities to do that invites more nature into your child’s life:
1. Go outside close your eyes and don’t open them until you can identify 5 sounds. As you walk around stop every so often and notice different sounds.
2. Make a map and bury a treasure in your yard and see if you kids can find it.
3. Go on a walk when there is a full moon, bring a flashlight and notice what might be flying about.
4. Find pine cones that have fallen to make a pine cone bird feeder. Tie a string around the pine cone. Mix shortening, and oats and spread it onto the pine cone. Roll the pine cone in the bird seed. Then bird watch.
5. Jump in puddles after a rainstorm.
6. Lay down on blanket outside and cloud watch. [My son and I would lay on our trampoline after jumping and watch the clouds as they passed by noticing and naming what they look like].
7. Go on a walk and count how many birds you see. It doesn’t have to be long, in fact small children can get bored on long walks.
8. Make a nature collage. Grab a variety of leaves, sticks, and rocks to make a design.
9. Find leaves on the ground and do leaf rubbings. Take a paper and put it on top of the leaf, grab a crayon, pastel, or marker and lightly color on the layered paper over the leaf. Use soft leave and hard leaves and notice the differences.
10. Encourage your kids to build a tree house, fort or hut. Supervision may be required, but let them design and work with them to build.
11. Collect items outside and build an animal a house with sticks, rocks and moss. Talk about the habitat and how it will help the animal survive.
12. Camp out in the backyard, or find a park in your area that has camping.
13. In the snow, look for animal prints.
14. Near the beach find seashells, or sea glass. Find shells with a hole and make a necklace.
15. Collect rocks. Look at them and admire their different shapes formed by nature.
16. Go geocaching. This is similar to a treasure hunt. It’s a game that you use a GPS receiver to track down a container that may have small items or a log book to log your find.
17. Grab a notepad and sit by a tree and write what comes to mind.
18. Place anything your child picks up outside put into a clear bowl so that it can be admired later or make nature art.
19. Set up a bird feeding station. We love when the hummingbirds come to visit.
20. Plant flowers outside or in a pot. Kids love feeling the dirt in their hands.
21. Visit new parks. Find a map explore what lives there.
22. Observe insects with a magnifying glass.
23. Raise butterflies.
24. Sit by a tree outside and share a blank pad of paper and colored pencils. Pass the paper taking turns drawing a picture.
25. Create a terrarium. Supplies include a glass container, rocks, activated charcoal (keeps it clean), potting soil, plants and small garden tools.
Adventuring outside doesn’t have to be far from home. Children are more likely to want to go outside and it is a lot more fun to be out in nature with their parent. There are many exciting activities to be had. What will you try?
Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS is in private practice in Sea Girt, New Jersey, where she provides synergistic play therapy, EMDR, sand tray therapy as well as clinical supervision and training workshops for professionals. She specializes in working with children who have anxiety, trauma and ADHD. Her training involves attachment theory, neuroscience and mindfulness. Rose consults with teachers and administrators on working with children’s mental health needs in the school setting. She has taught undergraduate classes as an adjunct professor at Brookdale Community College and Georgian Court University. For the past several years Rose has written a parenting column called “Parent Sense” in the Coast Star and Ocean Star. In addition to her column, Rose writes her own blog and assists Lynn Louise Wonders in co-coordinating live retreats and other special events with her expertise in bringing people together for community collaboration and ongoing education. Rose enjoys spending time outdoors with her family appreciating nature. Read more about Rose and her work at www.roselapiere.com
Chawla, L. (2015). Benefits of Nature Contact for Children. Journal of Planning Literature, 30(4), 433-452. Dowloaded from Chawla- Benefits of Nature Contact for Children
Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.