For kids, the benefits of playing outside are myriad. It’s been proven that natural environments stimulate children’s imaginations and collaborative skills, meaning that they learn faster and more eagerly – while becoming, all the time, more aware of their place in the global ecology.
Activate your kids’ environmental curiosity today with the following fun nature activities. Many of the following ways of appreciating nature are not only easy to organise and often free, but better yet, you’re sure to enjoy them as an adult, too!
Glamping & Stargazing
Especially for younger kids, full-on camping may not be the wisest accommodation choice. For enhanced comfort and that essential home-away-from-home feeling, consider going glamping instead. You’ll still be able to explore the beautiful scenery outside during the day, but then you can return back to a haven (sans sleeping bags). Better yet, open the tent up for the night and go stargazing – there’s nothing quite so magical for a kid as their first glimpse of the universe above.
Catch & incubate some insects
The majority of us are sure to be familiar with worm farms and the mechanics of butterfly hatching (often some of the most interesting aspects of the primary school classroom). If your kid hasn’t been able to experience these activities at school yet, import them into the home. A great way to prime young ‘uns for more labour-intensive pets, DIY worm farms and butterfly cages are easy to construct and will allow your kid to track the life-cycles of nature’s smaller creatures.
Dig & Build
Kids love getting their hands dirty – so mark out a free space in the garden for them to hack at with a spade, and let them go wild. Some burgeoning archaeologists may prefer to dig until they find insect life and interesting stones, while others may opt to build their own garden-islands out of a little dirt and the most house-like branches. It may mean a little extra bath time at the end of the day, but the good news for parents is that scientists have declared dirt-germs to actually be beneficial for kids’ microbiome.
Create from nature
From flower wreaths, daisy chains, and pressed flowers to painted rocks and sand gardens, getting creative out in nature will occupy kids all the way from preschool to elementary. Get a little experimental by suggesting that your kid become an amateur apothecary: provide them with a base lotion or simple lip balm, and see what natural essences and infusions they return from the garden with.
Do you have a budding chef on board? An outdoor kitchen setup will be the thing to entertain them for days on end. Toddlers will adore filling old pots and pans with various (approved!) ingredients from the backyard, whether sand or dirt, or flowers and grass.
Beaches are magical settings for kids if they know where to look. While you’re onshore, guide your kids to the rock pools and show them how to dig up the most intricate shells from beneath the sand. This way, they’ll be equipped with lasting mementos with which to remember the trip, and they’ll be enraptured by the sound of waves emanating from inside the shell.
Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from New Zealand, who is also a passionate traveller and photographer. Sofia often focuses her pieces on tourism and art, having written for contemporary art sites such as Ocula. You can also find her writing on her website here.