Getting outside and playing in nature is a great way to spend time with your kids. Time in the great outdoors also helps with cognitive development and promotes resilience and creativity, but most importantly it is brilliant fun!
Give children a sheet of paper and crayons or coloured pencils to take rubbings of different textures. Help them to place the sheet of paper over an object with interesting textures and gently shade with the pencil or crayon to transfer the design onto the paper. This works well on rocks, bark, animal claw marks on tree trunks or even plaques and signs with raised designs. Ask your child why they chose the textures they did and what they like most about them.
Preserve a little piece of your outdoor adventure by pressing flowers. Take a walk with your child to find some of their favourite flowers to press. Flat-faced flowers and leaves that aren’t too thick and juicy are best for preservings, such as violets and daisies. If you have a flower press you can use that, otherwise, just use a heavy book or phonebook.
Open to the middle of the book and lay a piece of paper towel over the page, followed by a sheet of absorbent paper like blotting paper or printer paper. Arrange the flowers and leaves on the sheet of paper then cover with another sheet of paper and piece of paper towel. Close the book and weigh it down with bricks or a stack of books to flatten the flower arrangement. Depending of the type of flowers it can take a few weeks to fully dry out. Once the pressed flowers are dry, your child can use them in a college or other craft projects.
Archeologist for a day
If you have a sandpit or a clear section in the garden, bury a range of small items such as plastic dinosaurs, toys, blocks or anything that can’t easily be broken. Give your child a collection of ‘archaeologist tools’ such as a small trowel, spoons and old paintbrushes and watch them have fun excavating the dig site for artefacts.
Daisy chain jewelry
Teach your kids to make daisy chains, or use any other flower that is abundant in your garden. Pick the flowers, leaving about 10cm of the stalk. Use your fingernail to make a small slit in the middle of the flower stem. Thread the stem of another flower through the slit and pull through until the flower sits snug against the previous stem. Continue on to make a pretty flower chain. You can make chains in any length for bangles, garlands and necklaces. This is a great activity to do to ‘dress up’ before a picnic or afternoon tea.
Decorate a pet
Take your child exploring and find a rock, smooth ones are the easiest to paint. Provide a selection of craft supplies such as paint, googley eyes, glitter or stick-on gems for your child to decorate their pet rock. They might like to make beetles, animals, faces or their own wacky creation. Once their rock is decorated you can have fun together coming up with a name and story for their new pet.
Take a walk with your child and collect interesting objects to create a nature collage. It might be different shaped and coloured leaves, sticks, rocks or bits of bark, anything that takes your child’s interest. Then use craft glue and a sheet of paper or cardboard to create a nature collage. Coloured pens or paint can be incorporated to add a bit of colour or encourage them to write a story about their artwork. If they have used flowers or things that will wilt be sure to take a photo of the completed masterpiece to capture it in all its glory.
Next time you’re going on a family bushwalk, make it an alphabet walk. As you hike along with the trail challenge your family to keep their eyes peeled for things starting with the letters of the alphabet, start at A and try to reach Z by the end of the walk. It can be the names of plants, animals or anything you see along the way, as long as it starts with the correct letter.
Teach your child about the body’s 5 senses; sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Explore your garden or go for a walk and encourage your child to find one thing that most appeals to them for each sense (be sure to remind them not to ‘taste’ anything without checking with an adult first). If could be a fragrant flower or herb, a rough piece of bark or a sea shell that makes the sound of the ocean. Not only will you encourage your child to engage with all their senses, but it will also be fun to see how different the things each person chooses are.
Help your child to collect a range of flowers, leaves and objects of different shapes and textures. Use a paintbrush or roller to coast the object with paint and then press onto a sheet of paper to create an imprint. Create an artwork to display or print onto large sheets of butcher’s paper to create one of a kind gift wrap for the holidays.
Play detective and search for signs of animals in your garden or on a bushwalk. Give your child a notebook and pen to make notes of what they find, and help them hunt for signs of wildlife. Look for footprints, droppings, scratch marks, chewed on fruit or look up in the trees to see if you can spot nests. Based on what you find to try to figure out what kinds of animals live in the area.Tags:
Check out these nature play activities to get you started.