Every season is a great time to be outside, but you could argue that Spring is particularly exciting with its theme of renaissance and rejuvenation. Just as the butterfly and tadpole undergo amazing transformations, so does nature itself. There’s so much to observe and so much to do! As days get longer, nature gets greener and the weather gets warmer, kids are naturally inclined to spend more and more time outdoors. Although free play is always important, keep in mind these ideas for Spring outdoor activities for kids (both low-prep and no-prep).
SPRING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Make a rock collection.
While out in nature today, gather your favorite rocks into a curated collection. See how many different ways you can organize your collection: by size, by color, by shape, by texture, etc. Older kids can write down their observations of the rocks’ different properties: shiny, rough, bumpy, etc.
Use our rock collection observations worksheet to help guide your notations.
Make a fairy garden, worm hotel or gnome home.
Using materials that you find in nature, make a fairy garden, worm hotel or gnome home. Will it have a roof? Is it a lean-to? What materials can you use in its construction?
Go on a scavenger hunt.
Go on a scavenger hunt. Using a pre-made scavenger hunt or by building your own, go out into nature and see what you can find!
Look for four-leafed clovers.
Look for a grassy spot and see if you can spot any four-leafed clovers. Even if none is to be found, it will be interesting to take a closer look at the green ground beneath you.
Inspect a flower.
Inspect a flower. Examine a flower up close. See how many different parts you can identify. Is there anything you hadn’t noticed before?
Make a wind chime or wall hanging.
Gather found materials in nature, including a stick. Find string or twine, cut 5-7 pieces to the same length. Tie various “treasures” (rocks, shells, twigs) to each piece (you may need help from a parent) and attach to a main stick at the top. Then hang in the wind or on a wall as decoration.
Go for a rainbow walk.
On your next nature walk, how many colors of the rainbow will you see in the plants, birds, animals, fungi around you? Take photos or just point them out as you go!
Dig in for some gardening.
Perhaps the most iconic of all Spring outdoor activities, gardening is enriching and beneficial for kids and will help you grow (physically, intellectually, emotionally) alongside the plants you are tending. Gardening often starts with planning, so think about what you’d like to grow and check out our Garden Planner for tips and tools for planning your own (edible) garden. Plan out your space, sow some seeds or plant a few seedlings. Then wait for nature’s magic to happen!
Start a nature journal.
Go on an insect hunt.
Walk around your backyard, local park or nearby trail. Gently lift up (then replace) sticks, rocks, dry leaves, fallen branches. Do you see any insects? (hint: try cool, damp places) Take a picture of any that you see, then identify and draw them when you get back home.
Check out our Insect Book for fun facts, discovery logs, games, and cards.
Visit a local pond or wetlands.
Look for turtles, frogs, snakes, insects. How do the plant life and animal life differ from those in your backyard?
Do you see any fish? tadpoles? turtles sunning on logs?
Go on a color-matching walk.
Before going on a nature walk, gather a few items from your home: crayons, colored pencils, paint swatches, scraps of paper. Can you match their colors to things you find in nature? How close can you get to that particular shade?
Make a forest bouquet.
Bouquets don’t always need to be made from flowers! Next time you are in the woods, gather together some twigs, leaves, blades of grass and build a forest bouquet. No flowers required! Tie together with some twine or place them in a small jar.
Make nature paint brushes.
Gather a few found materials outside: pencil-sized sticks, twigs, grasses, leaves, pine needles or boughs, ferns, flowers, feathers, etc. Using twine or long blades of grass, attach your materials to the ends of the sticks to make “paint brushes”. Test them out by using water, mud or paint as your medium. Which “paint brush” is your favorite? Which “bristles” work best?
Do a flower or leaf pressing.
Gather leaves and flowers (the thinner the better), make sure they are dry. Place each leaf or flower between two sheets of paper (cardstock and parchment paper also work), making sure not to overlap them. Place on a flat surface and cover with another flat surface (book, tray, etc.) and weigh down (with more books, etc.). Wait two to three weeks, carefully remove the layers and see how they turned out!
Go on a texture/surface hunt.
Using a pre-prepared worksheet (like the one included in our Springtime Bundle or Sensory Bundle) or starting your own, see what textures you can find in nature. Look at bark, rocks, leaves, nuts, etc. and write down what you find. Smooth? Delicate? Rough? Bumpy? Soft? Prickly?
Lie back and watch the clouds.
Lie back and watch the clouds. Find a sit spot and make it a lie-spot! Look up to the sky and watch the clouds. How quickly or slowly are they moving? What shapes do you see?
Go on a puddle hunt.
On a rainy day, go on a puddle hunt. Look at their shapes, their depth, and test out their splashability! Who can make the highest splash or the widest splash?
Do a square-foot study.
Mark off a square in your backyard using sticks and string, somewhere between a square foot to a square yard. (Or make it round by using a hulahoop!) Look at it quickly, jot down what you see. Then, spend more time, get closer (on your hands and knees) and see what else you notice. Is it just grass, or are there other plants? Any insects? Any seeds? If leaves, what kind of leaves? Write or draw what you see. Check back as often as you’d like (hourly, daily, weekly) to see if anything has changed. (Has the grass grown? Are there any new leaves? Do you notice different insects?) Then choose the next square and repeat!
Have fun with sidewalk chalk.
In your driveway or a nearby sidewalk, get creative with sidewalk chalk. Draw a picture, write a message, trace your shadow, draw a hopscotch grid.
Make a birdfeeder.
Using recycled or natural materials, make a bird feeder. Spread peanut butter on a pinecone or toilet paper roll and cover in seeds. Hang it on a nearby tree and see if the birds like it!
Go to your sit spot and see how many birds you can see. Look for their basic characteristics (color, size, calls, etc.) and use a bird guide or app (such as Merlin Bird ID or Audubon Birds) to identify them.
Climb a tree.
With adult supervision, find a perfect climbing tree. Climb until you find a comfortable spot and enjoy the view!
Go on a sound hunt.
Head into nature and see how many different sounds you can identify. Are they close by? Far away? Repetitious? High-pitched? Make your own chart to write down your observations, or use the worksheet included in our Springtime Bundle or Sensory Bundle.
Make and use a balance beam.
Using logs, rocks, branches, planks, build yourself a balance beam. It can be flat on the ground or raised up, depending on your comfort level. Can you get from one side to the other without falling off? Does it help to put your arms straight out to the side or pointing to the ground?
Make a slalom course for your bike or scooter.
Using sticks, rocks and/or cones, make a slalom course for your bike or scooter in your driveway, quiet street (with permission) or your lawn. What happens if your points are closer together? Farther apart?
Go on a photo walk.
On your next nature walk, take a camera with you. Write a list ahead of time with things to capture (something that is round, something that is bright, something that is colorful, something that is above you, something that is smaller than your fingernail, etc.), use a prepared scavenger hunt, or just see where inspiration carries you.
Draw a sound map.
In your sit spot, focus on all the sounds around you. Draw a “map” by drawing yourself in the center of the page and orienting the sounds around you. Write a description of the sound or draw its origin (e.g., a bird).
Make a natural self-portrait.
Gather some natural materials from around the yard: sticks, rocks, pinecones, etc. Then use those materials to “draw”! Start with self-portraits (sticks for hair, acorns for eyes, pinecone for nose, etc.), then decide on your next masterpiece.
Make a nature mandala.
Using some of the same materials as before, make patterns and create a nature mandala using your newfound loose parts. Starting with a central point, build a pattern in concentric circles, one layer at a time.
Find a sit spot and read.
Find a sit spot in your yard or a local park: on a rock, under a favorite tree, in the middle of the lawn. Set out a towel, tarp, blanket or chair, dress appropriately and read your favorite book.
Build an obstacle course.
Using items that you find in your yard and nearby (logs, hula hoops, rope, branches, stumps), make your own obstacle course. Jump over this, crawl under that, balance on this, race from here to there. Try it out, tweak anything that didn’t work for you, repeat! Record the different steps and try re-arranging them next time.
Enjoy some creek play.
Head to a nearby creek or stream and have fun exploring. Free play always flows (pun intended) at water spots, but some ideas include building a temporary dam, checking for wildlife, making a boat from bark/leaves/sticks, and having a stick race.
Go on a flashlight nature walk.
After the sun has set, hold hands and set off into nature (or just your backyard), armed with flashlights. What can you see when you look up? When you look down? What happens when you turn off your flashlight — can you still see anything? (Or consider other outdoor activities kids can do in the dark.)
Make a rock sculpture.
Practice balancing rocks and see how many you can stack on top of each other. What kind of rocks work best? But unless you’re in your own backyard, please be sensitive to how/where to build your cairns.
Stone stacking has become more and more popular recently as a fun and Insta-worthy activity. But we should remember that many cairns are there for a reason (marking trails, property lines, memorials) and should be respected. Adding cairns in the wrong location could cause confusion, and we shouldn’t disturb an existing one. Choose your stone-stacking spot wisely, and/or return the stones after you’ve taken a photo.
Become a shadow artist.
Have fun with shadows! Trace a friend’s shadow using sidewalk chalk, or bring a favorite toy outside (superhero or animal figurine) and trace its shadow. Come back at different times of the day and see how the shadows have changed.
With all its change and growth, Spring is an exciting time to be outdoors. There is so much to observe and appreciate! Keep these outdoor activities in mind to help your kids connect with nature and enjoy their Spring OUTSIDE!
Which Spring outdoor activities will you do today?
Be sure to check out our Springtime Outdoor Activity Bundle, chock-full of tips, tools, games and resources for many of the activities above — and more!