I saw a tweet on twitter recently where someone asked how you keep kids interested in and loving being outdoors in nature.
Both of my girls love being outside, rain or shine they want to be out. They are both still young and these are some ideas we use for playing outside.
bug hunts- use glasses, clear tubs, magnifying glasses and go rummage through the leaves & under stones see what bugs you can find, you could even print out a sheet of different bugs you’ve got to try to find. But please remember to put them back they are important parts of our ecosystem, breaking down leaf matter & feeding our wildlife.
making bug hotels- using stones and leaves create little houses for bugs to shelter in.
looking for slow worms- slow worms are really really cool! They can regrow their tails, and they arnt snakes but legless lizards.
leaf rubbings- if the weather looks like it could change any minute go collect lots of leaves, place them under some paper and with chalk, crayon or pencil rub over the leaf, leaving a lovely pattern on the paper, use multiple leaves and create your own wrapping paper.
flower presses- you can buy kits to press flowers or do it yourself using a heavy book! Place some bits of paper within the book to soak up the moisture which will come out of the flower & change this every couple of days. Place the flower inside and carefully close the book, pile more books on top and leave it, simple! You can also press flowers in the microwave between two tiles but I’ve not tried it.
using binoculars to look for birds- whether they are real binoculars or not (you know whether your child is sensible enough for real ones, mine arnt) kids love feeling grown up & looking through things, you could even use toilet roll tubes to make your own binoculars.
Cloud watching- what shapes can you see? Make up stories about what the clouds are doing.
How many petals on a flower? How many leaves on a branch? – pretty self explanatory, this is obviously one for younger children, but you could also ask them to find flowers/branches with certain amounts of leaves or petals.
How many steps- how many steps to the nearest tree/fence/flower, is it more steps to point A or point B? Can you do really big steps so it doesn’t take so many, or tiny steps so it takes lots of steps.
What lives in this hole/tree?- you need a bit of basic nature knowledge yourself for this, rabbit holes, badger sets, fox sets, bird nests, squirrel drays, they are all different, look for clues around the hole, rabbit poo, eggs in nests, feathers, footprints, fur. Make up stories about who lives in the hole and what they do.
Listen- see if you can recognise any sounds, birds chirping, rivers/streams bubbling, leaves rustling, trees creaking, foxes screeching. We have a fox family and a pheasant family in the field outside our house so we often hear them (and see them <3)
So they are some nature based things we do, we also have a sandpit, swings, slide, bikes, scooters, tents, to play on/in. And pavement chalk is a favourite too. There's so much outdoors, whether you have a garden or not.
Oh and the ultimate outdoor fun? Splashing in puddles!! Shoes on or off, getting muddy & wet is so much fun for all kids (and some of us adults too)