Outdoor Learning and Fun with Children

Spring brings a medley of weather conditions, but no matter what’s happening outside your door, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the turning of seasons with children. We put together a list of fun, simple, and low-cost activities and useful tips found in a few of our outdoor learning resources. For even more ideas, check out our complete collection of nature and outdoor publications.

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A song from Celebrate Nature!

Talk to children about the birds that you spot when you are outdoors. Here’s a song to help children remember what distinguishes birds from other animals—feathers!

“Birds Are Special” (Sung to the tune of “Bingo”)

Birds are special, we know why.

Feathers help them fly.

B-i-r-d-s

B-i-r-d-s

B-i-r-d-s

Feathers help them fly!

An activity from Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth

Make the most out of springtime rain with DIY rain gauges. A few simple materials are all you need to create your own weather station, and children will love learning about how they can help measure and observe the amount of rain that falls. Get the activity here.

An outdoor walk idea from Hey Kids! Out the Door, Let’s Explore!

Still getting snow where you live? Most young children delight in playing in the snow and enjoy describing their experiences to others. Taking a snowy day walk — even if there are only a few flakes falling — allows children an opportunity to notice the effects of snow, learn about snowflakes, observe how animals respond to snow, and consider the importance of snow. You can use new words (such as slush, blowing, cold, snowplow) and invite children to share their experiences with snow, snow activities they participate in, and the type of clothing to wear in snowy weather. Bring clipboards with white paper for drawing or black construction paper for “catching” snowflakes.

Ideas from Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms

With warming weather, it’s the perfect time to establish outdoor activity centers. Some of these spaces may be permanent, like those for swings or a sandbox. Some may move locations, like places for reading books, playing with water, or using loose parts on the grass. Try to think of other activities usually done inside the classroom that can be moved outdoors.

Snack ideas from Nature Sparks

Outdoor play can help children work up an appetite! Eating snacks outdoors is a great way to extend children’s time in nature and it’s a fun experience, too. Try some of these ideas:

  • Pita bread that is halved and filled with sliced ham, cheese, and an assortment of veggies makes a great hiking snack for children.
  • For a refreshing outdoor treat on a warm spring day, mix diced jicama with diced seedless watermelon and lime juice. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, and alfalfa sprouts. Ask questions such as, “What is this?” and discuss how and where the ingredients of this Mexican snack are grown.
  • Make an outdoor snack special by putting it in an ice cream cone. Cereal cone sundaes are a great outdoor treat because the cone acts as a handy cup. Let children add scoops of dry (non-sugary) cereal, raisins, granola, pudding, shredded coconut, and sliced fruit. Or, use fresh berries with a dollop of whipped cream. Try a seed trail mix using a variety of seeds, such as sunflower and pumpkin; toss in raisins.

Tell us: What is your favorite thing to do outdoors once spring hits?

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