Puddle Jumping – Yes, it’s messy BUT kids absolutely love it and guess what? The muddier, the better! A child sees a puddle and almost immediately gravitate towards it. Puddles are meant to be splashed in and that is exactly what children are enticed to do — jump right in with two feet! Puddle jumping not only teaches children how to move their bodies but also teaches children about the natural world. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. I highly recommend purchasing a Muddy Buddy which are waterproof coveralls for toddlers that offer full-body coverage and protection from the rain.
Nature Sticks – While on a walk or a hike outdoors, have your children collect natural items like leaves, feathers, twigs and flowers to create a nature stick. The nature stick acts as a keepsake of their time in nature, something to take home with them. Have your children attach their items to a stick using string or twine. A new nature stick can be made during each walk or your children can keep adding to one they have already created. Be sure to remind children not to disrupt nature and to find items that have already fallen to the ground. Have children retell the story of their walk and why they decided to choose the items on their sticks.
Bird Feeders – There are so many variations to making your own bird feeders. My nephew and I made bird feeders out of toilet paper rolls, peanut butter and seed mixture (sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds). I found a similar one here with step-by-step instructions. I also came across these bird feeders made from cookie cutters that I am definitely going to try!
Fly a Kite – It can get quite windy in the spring which makes for perfect kite-flying weather. You can either purchase a kite or make one of your own. Here’s a video with instructions on how to make one of your own.
Nature Mandalas – I wrote about mandalas in my previous post about loose parts. I talk about them often because they are so beautiful to create. Take your children on a nature walk and collect different natural materials and objects like flowers, sticks, leaves, stones, shells, etc. Find a flat surface outside. Pick one object and place it in the middle and work outwards, creating a circular design. Your children can keep adding to the mandala until they feel it is complete. Try this tranquil activity as a way to really connect and be present with nature.
Sketching – Bring those sketch pads and drawing tools outdoors, ignite the senses, breathe in the fresh air and feel inspired by nature. Have your children pack a special bag with different art materials and choose a special place outdoors to sit and draw, sketch or paint what they see. It may be flowers, trees, the sky, or whatever else they feel a desire to capture on paper.
DIY Sidewalk Chalk – All you need is 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup water and food colouring. Add cornstarch and water to a bowl and mix it well. Pour the mixture evenly into a muffin tin. Add desired drops of food colouring to each cup. Take your paint outside with some paint brushes and have fun! For the paint to really pop on your sidewalk, purchase food colouring that is very bright and vibrant.
Tree Faces – What can you do when you combine mud pies and loose parts? Tree faces! Simply make a mud pie and put it onto the bark of a tree. Then collect loose parts like flowers, rocks, twigs, grass and other natural objects to make facial features. They can be self-portraits, animals or faces of special people. Click here and take a look at these amazing examples! If you do not have mud, you can also use clay.
Gardening – Now is the perfect time to get outside and plant some fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers! Take a trip to the nursery and decide with your children what they would like to plant. Gardening allows children to learn to care for the environment. Children learn what plants need to grow and the responsibility that comes with caring for them. If you don’t have access to a garden, there are many other ways to gain a similar experience indoors. The dollar store has all of the materials you need to plant at home – planting containers, pots, seeds, soil. Put your plants by a sunny window and watch them grow. Growing grass is a simple way to enjoy some gardening in your home. Click here for steps on how to make Grass Heads!
Spring Scavenger Hunt – The first signs of spring spark so much curiosity and wonder in children. A scavenger hunt is a perfect way to encourage children to get outside and admire the change of season. Here is a list of things to include in your spring scavenger hunt:
Fresh sprouting grass
You can make a list of your items on a piece of paper in writing or with pictures (depending on the age and reading levels of your children) and attach it to a clipboard for your children to hold while they complete the activity.
HAPPY SPRING and enjoy the outdoors!