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Outdoor Activities for Kids

by Gentle World on May 23, 2012

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Children are born with a natural appreciation for the magic that flows through nature. They reach for the golden petals of sunflowers, dig their toes into the soft earth and begin to use twigs and berries as toys without ever having been told to do so. This inherent love of nature is important to both a growing child’s health and to the health of the planet.

When children are encouraged to help in the garden or use nature to make art, it provides them with new opportunities to experience their place in the world and the interconnectedness of our universe. It is this understanding that will help them to nurture their own well being and make ecologically sound choices in the future.

I hope that among the silly, fun and educational outdoor activities listed below, you and your little ones will find new ways to enjoy interacting with and appreciating the nature around you.*

These activities are appropriate for young children with adult supervision, or older children looking for a bit of a challenge. I have also included a number of tips and creative variations to help you work with your child’s needs and changing interests. The directions are written as if you were doing the activity on your own, but it should be easy to understand where to include your children, depending on their age and level of ability. So have fun!

*We would like to thank the New Zealand WWOOFer who suggested these activities to us last year. You’ll always be a Star in our eyes.

Toilet Paper Tube Planter
Seed Bugs
Whimsical Planter
Collage
Easy Bird Feeder
Wind Chimes
Outdoor Plant Tepee

- Toilet Paper Tube Planter -

What you’ll need:

– Soil from the garden or some potting mix
– A couple of large seeds
– Empty toilet paper tubes

Directions:

– Take your empty toilet paper tube and stand it upright in a small container (ie, an old organic soy yogurt container or something like that).
– Pack the toilet paper tube with soil. This will work best if the soil is somewhat moist.
– Sow a single bean or seed in the toilet roll tube.
– Water the seed regularly.
– When the seed germinates, plant the whole tube in the garden.

Tips: This activity works particularly well with peas, sunflowers, and other larger seeds.

 

- Seed Bugs -

What you’ll need:

– Pinecones/acorns, other hard seeds and non-toxic berries
– Vegan glue (such as Welbond)*
– Twigs and other items found in nature that could make “legs or a tail”

Directions:

– Use pinecones/acorns for the body and smaller seeds or non-toxic berries as the head. Glue them together.
– Add a set of twigs for the legs and glue, tape or tie them onto the pine cone/acorn body.
– When the seed bug is finished, ask the children to name their bug and/or make up a story about it.

Variant: Another fun way to get older children involved in this easy project is by having them assist younger children in writing down their seed bug story.

*Many glues include casein and other animal products.

- Whimsical Planter –

What you’ll need:

– Old rain-boots, watering cans, wheelbarrow, teapot, teacups, hat or bag
– Potting soil or soil from your garden

Directions:

– Fill your favorite old items with potting soil.
– Plant seeds directly into your soil filled rain boots or old teacups and watch them grow! If the object you’re using for planting does not holes in the bottom for drainage be careful not to over water.

Tip: Hats and bags make particularly good hanging planters for trailing strawberries or tumbling tomatoes.

- Collage -

What you’ll need:

– A bag to put your art supplies in as you collect them
– Leaves, petals, twigs and other natural material you might find on a walk
– A vegan liquid glue* (such as Weldbond)

Directions:

– Go on an art-collecting walk to find your materials. Pick up any leaves, petals, small pinecones and other fun collage items that have fallen to the ground.
– Bring items home, then glue, tape or string them together on a piece of paper to make a beautiful collage.

Variation: Adding in pictures from an old magazine, paint and/or glitter are fun ways to add variety to this activity.

*Many glues include casein and other animal products

- Easy Bird Feeder –

What you’ll need:

– A string or a position off the ground to place your bird feeder
– A good-sized pinecone
– Nut or seed butter of some sort
– Birdseed or a mix of sunflower seeds and millet

Directions:

– Tie a string to the top of your pinecone or find a secure place off the ground to set your feeder once it is finished.
– Take the pinecone and smear a light layer of nut or seed butter on the outside of the pinecone (so the seeds will stick.)
– Sprinkle birdseed or your mix of sunflower and millet over the pinecone until it is completely covered with seeds.
– Hang the feeder in a tree or place it somewhere the birds will be able to reach it off the ground.
– Sit back and watch them enjoy their treat.

Variation: Take a whole apple and press nuts and seeds into the outside of the apple.

- Wind Chimes -

What you’ll need:

– String
– Twigs, pieces of driftwood, bamboo, abandoned shells or other items found in nature that will make a beautiful sound while clinking together in the wind

Directions:

– Collect your natural material; it is best to have at least one larger twig or piece of wood that you can hang the rest of the items from.
– There is no set formula for creating your wind chime, but a good place to start is with a “T” shape.
– Decide which piece you would like to be the main support for your chime.
– Hang the rest of the twigs and other items you’re using off this piece of wood.
– When you are finished tying shells, twigs and other pieces of wood on to the top of the “T” shape, tie a string in the middle of your piece of wood and hang it somewhere it will move in the wind.

- Outdoor Plant Tepee -

What you’ll need:

– Poles (bamboo or other light woods work well)
– Bean seeds or other climbing plants

Directions:

– Create a small tepee, big enough for your child to sit inside, with sticks or bamboo poles crossing over each other.
– Plant bean seeds, or another climbing plant, at the base of the tepee and allow them to climb up the poles to create a secret room in the garden for your little ones to play in.

Variation: If you find creating a tepee big enough for your child to play in daunting, you can also have your child help you create a small tepee big enough for “fairies” or butterflies to live in.

 

Related Posts:

Garden Fun with Little Ones
Kale: A Beginners Guide to Growing
A Beginners Guide to Composting
A Beginners Guide to Veganic Gardening


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