10 Fun and Simple Things to Do in Nature with Children

1. Go on a picnic. We love picnics. They don't have to be fancy or big to be fun. There's just something special about eating together with your family outside in nature.

2. Look for shapes and pictures in the clouds. This can be done most anywhere you can see the sky. . . while sitting on the porch, while on a walk, while having a picnic outside. One especially neat way to watch for cloud pictures is to lay on the ground and relax for awhile and look up at the sky and see what you see. Little Cloud and It Looked Like Spilt Milk are a couple books for younger children that tell a story about looking for shapes in clouds.

3. Look for shapes in nature. Don't worry about being exact; just have fun! A lot of leaves are in the shape of a heart or in an oval shape. The moon is a circle, as well as some berries. Here are some books about shapes in nature to check out:  What Shape Is It? (Looking at Nature), A Star in My Orange: Looking for Nature's Shapes, and Shape Me a Rhyme.

4. I mentioned hearts in number three, but I think this one also deserves it's own point on the list--you can look for hearts in nature. There are so many hearts out there! There are heart-shaped clouds, rocks, leaves, shadows. . . so many things. Our family really enjoys looking for hearts.  I'm so thankful to Clytie at Random Hearts for getting us into keeping on the lookout for hearts.  ♥

This is a heart-shaped rock at the beach.

5. Look for the alphabet in nature. As with looking for shapes, you don't have to be exact--it's okay as long as the general idea is there. Many sticks have a "y" or "v" shape in them. The moon, some berries, such as snowberries, look like the letter "o." If you like this concept or want some alphabet in nature inspiration, you might enjoy the books Discovering Nature's Alphabet and ABCs Naturally: A Child's Guide to the Alphabet Through Nature.

The knot in the wood could be an "o"
and the caterpillar could be an "l."

6. Search for things that start with each letter of the alphabet. Here are some examples. Apple starts with "A." Bush and butterfly start with "B." Caterpillar and chrysalis start with "C." Dirt starts with "D."  Egg starts with "E."  Feather starts with "F." (You get the idea, I'm sure. ;)) If you'd like to read books to your little one that include pictures of nature coupled with the alphabet, you may enjoy the following books:  O Is for Orca: An Alphabet Book B Is for Beaver : An Oregon Alphabet, E is for Evergreen: A Washington State AlphabetW Is for Washington: Written by Kids for Kids, and S is for Spirit Bear: A British Columbia Alphabet (Alphabet Books).

7. Look for faces in the trees.  There are some pretty amazing tree faces out there.  Do you see the face in this one?   You can see a few more faces here.

8. Look for different colors out in nature.  Search for blue things, red things, yellow things, green things. . . You could even play the game "I spy" outside.
A red leaf on green moss
(picture taken by my older daughter)

9. Take pictures with a camera to record what you see in nature and to record the changing seasons.  Taking pictures encourages children (and adults) to observe nature more closely.  Taking pictures is what helped me fall in love with nature!  Fisher Price has "kid-tough" cameras for younger children (the recommended age listed is 36 months - 6 years).  I am thinking about getting the blue Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera for my son for his next birthday.

10. Carry a basket on a nature walk and collect items such as nuts, leaves, seeds, rocks, sticks, cones.  One thing you can do is create a special space at home where your child can put their favorite collected nature items.  The space could be a table, a shelf, or even a basket on a shelf, that your child can reach so he can look at, touch, and play with them when he wants.   Another thing you could do is make a nature craft with them.  We recently made autumn wreaths and twig and maple seed dragonflies. In the past we've made a seasonal collage by gluing items to cardboard.  The blog Moment to Moment shows that with some creativity and imagination you can make all sorts of fun animals with things collected from nature:  Dragonflies, owls and bats.

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to get out and enjoy nature with your children! 

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  1. Nice ideas! Love your photos too.

    We are transplanted Pacific Northwesterners. I love it and miss it.


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