Outdoor Fun and Nature

You don’t have to go far to explore nature and it’s brilliant for little peoples mental health. House plants, the back garden… even the school run are packed with nature to explore

Don’t forget…

Make sure the parents know if you’re leaving the house, where you’re going and when to expect you back.

  • Safety first! Ask the parents about anywhere they’d rather you avoid and keep your eyes peeled for anyone or thing that might be hazardous. Think about how long and how far it’s appropriate to take kids of the age you look after.
  • Plan for the weather – rain needn’t cancel play but make sure you and the kids are dressed appropriately!
  • Put wet or dirty clothes in the laundry bin and make sure the kids don’t tread mud across the floor.
  • Make sure to follow social distancing and the parent’s wishes regarding playgrounds too.

Little kids

  • Go on a sensory motor scavenger hunt – Getting outside and connecting with nature is good for brains and bodies. This outdoor sensory motor scavenger hunt for kids is the perfect way to explore the senses and the outdoors! If they need help with reading this Five Senses Scavenger Hunt has pictures to help.

  • Make flying balloon birds – Following these instructions learn all about the physics behind bird flight (and you can have a laugh at some balloons making silly sounds too). Test different versions to see if you can get your bird to fly as far as possible.

  • Experiment with dyeing flowers – Check out this science experiment which is perfect for Spring or if you can get some potted white flowers from the supermarket or garden centre. You’ll get to watch flowers turn different colours, depending on the food colouring you’ve chosen. If you’re really feeling inspired paint the pots too!

  • Grow your own pet – A great activity for kids without outdoor space. You’ll need raw eggs, soil, grass seed, and anything you have to decorate with in your craft cupboard. Put the raw eggs you crack to one side for later – don’t let them go to waste! You should see your pet’s hair grow in around 5-10 days, so keep checking on it each day to make sure it’s fed enough water. You could also take photos of it each day and then make a video time lapse.

  • Space Rocks – Make your own moon rocks, with a science experiment! Go for a walk or search the back garden for some pebbles and have a go at making these fizzing moon rocks. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, you can use lemon juice instead.

  • Rock painting – Let your imagination run loose and have a go at rock painting. You could paint animals, insects, funky patterns, aliens and more. Have a look here for some inspiration. Why not leave them out for other children to find?

  • Shadow drawing – If it’s still sunny outside, have a go at drawing around shadows. Line up some of your favourite toys or other funky-shaped objects from the house, next to some paper, and draw around them.

Big kids

  • Make a bird feeder – Attract birds to your garden by making one of these easy bird feeders. They include lots of different types of food to attract different types of birds. For more top tips check out this Wildlife Trust page.

  • Do some bird watching – Sit somewhere where you can see a bird feeder but won’t scare the birds and sit and watch for a while. Do you know the names of the different types of birds that come to visit? If you see a bird you don’t know the name of, try using this RSPB tool to find it, using its size, shape, and colours.

  • Learn why birds have different shaped beaks based on what they eat – Inspired by this tutorial, use household objects like tweezers, chopsticks, and a clothespin to try picking up different things birds eat – use seeds, toy insects, and spaghetti or rubber bands for worms. Can you notice which tools are best suited to each type of food? Based on that can you guess what types of food birds with different beak shapes and lengths eat? You can test your guesses by watching the birds eat!

  • Make a classification key for the birds in your garden – now that you’ve identified all the birds that visit your garden, you can make a tool to help others do the same. Here’s an example with minibeasts. To make one for your birds, start by making a list of all the ones you saw, and then think about what makes each of them similar and unique. “All of these three were black, but only this one had a hooked beak, and only this one had white on its neck.” Then make up your yes or no questions like “it smaller than a pigeon? Does it have a short beak? Does it have a red breast?”.

  • Make a sun dial – A great way to pass a sunny day is to make your very own sun dial, teaching the kids about telling the time and a little physics at the same time! The sun’s light will cast a shadow over the dial, changing the angle of the shadow as the Earth rotates and revolves around the sun. The shadow’s cast tells the time as it moves, like a clock moves. Make sure to keep checking on it throughout the day!

All ages

  • Go on a nature walk – you don’t need a park to get outside! Make a checklist of all the natural phenomena you might find – listen for bird songs, look for nests, point to the different flowers and plants, watch for squirrels. Younger kids can have an image guide to help them.

  • Collect Art Supplies – Not only could can you look around their surroundings for artistic inspiration on nature walks, they could collect objects to be included in a piece of art, such as pieces of bark, dried leaves, seed pods or sticks (make sure you do your research on plants in your area so you’re sure what you collect is safe to use).

  • Photo scavenger hunt that gets them active – No need to leave the family home a game that’s adaptable to all age groups – it’s fitness in disguise and avoids the “uh a walk again?!” comments. Bonus they can show off the pictures to their parents of all the fun you’ve had together!

  • Become an urban explorer – Print off or draw a map of the area, think of all the things in the area visit them, helping the kids record details as they explore. They can note the streets, tracks, rivers, landmarks, or other unique features – like street art, the local tube stop or a friends house. You can vary this activity’s difficulty level by changing what students are required to map, older kids could include topographical information, scales, and grid lines, to name a few. Younger kids might stick on their photos or drawings to the map. Or go digital and add images to Google Street View – how many views will they get?

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