March 24, 2021

Back to Nature

20 Easy Nature Play Ideas to Keep Kids Busy, Happy + Healthy

Nature play has been proven to have powerful benefits for both bodies and brains—not just for kids, but for parents, too!

Physically, studies suggest that nature play helps to reduce anxiety, bolster the immune system, calm inflammation, build strong muscles and bones, and even lower one’s chance of developing chronic health issues like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Mentally, time spent in the outdoors builds confidence, increases attention spans, sparks imagination and develops creative thinking skills.

Here are 20 easy nature play activities you can do.

Hike It Bike It

1. HIKE IT / BIKE IT.

Daily family hikes or bike rides can help add fun and activity to your days while teaching kids street safety etiquette.

2. ROLL WITH IT.

Found a good hill in your neighborhood? After checking the course for dog and goose poop (it’s the season, after all), challenge your kids to a log roll race.

3.BRANCH OUT.

Though you may personally have let your own skills lapse, this is an excellent time for kids to (safely) brush up on their tree-climbing skills. Bonus points for reading The Giving Tree as well.

4. ROCK OUT.

No playground in sight? Try rock-hopping around your home—this helps to build balance and promote healthy risk-taking behaviors.

5. BUILD A FORT.

There isn’t a kid alive who doesn’t love building a fort! Taking the project outside will add a healthy dose of Vitamin D, while also creating a special place for reading and drawing.

Backyard Camping

 

6. GO CAMPING, EVEN IN THE BACKYARD.

Haul the tent and sleeping bags out of storage and set it up in your backyard or a nearby camp site. Bonus points if you build a fire pit for s’mores!

7. EMBRACE THE STORM.

There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.  Splash in puddles, catch snowflakes on your tongue and then, when the sun shines again, enjoy a day of good clean fun in the mud.

8. BUG OUT.

Bugs and other creepy crawlers are almost always out and about! See how many your kiddo can identify; there are lots of bug identifier apps out there, but we like Picture Insect for its image recognition abilities.

9. GO WITH THE FLOW.

Water, water everywhere; explore and experiment in the streams, lakes, ponds, and puddles in your area - skip rocks, race sticks, or go fish.

10. STARSTRUCK.

Twinkle, twinkle little star.  Ever wonder what they are?  Venture into the darkness to marvel at the starry sky.  Curious what you’re seeing?  Get acquainted with constellations with an app like Star Walk 2.

11. ART WALK.

Encourage your kids to beautify the sidewalk in front of your home with chalk art creations.

12. BBQ with Friends

Create a menu together and assign small tasks to your kiddos, lay a blanket down in the yard or gather around a picnic table in the park!

Family Picnic

13. GREEN THUMB.

How does your garden grow?  Dirt, water, sun, and seeds are all you need.  Get your hands dirty and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

14. SCAVENGER HUNT.

Scavenger hunts are fun for any age, including yours. Here’s a printable checklist for common natural items you might find in your yard or neighborhood. Check it out, then check them off!

15. KICK THE CAN.

Kick the can, capture the flag, hide and seek—no matter what you call it or where you learned it, there’s a reason this type of game continues to endure. Teach your kids YOUR version and have at it!

Cloud Critters

16. CLOUD CRITTERS.

Got some promising fluffy floaters in the sky today? Use the opportunity to roll out a blanket and spend some time a world of pure imagination. Extra credit for finding Denver Zoo animals!

17. MOONLIGHT SERENADE.

What goes bump in the night?  There’s a whole new world to explore after the sun sets.  Bats flutter, owls hoot, and crickets chirp.  Enjoy the nocturnal concert in your neighborhood.

18. FLOWER PRESS.

Preserve your favorite blooms in the pages of your heaviest book. Here’s a great bookmark craft using pressed fauna!

19. COLOR HUNT.

Teach your child valuable observation skills by having them select a favorite book, then taking them on a neighborhood “color hunt” to match naturally occurring shades with hues on the page.

Journaling

20. NATURAL INSPIRATION.

Set aside time for the whole crew to create something together in Colorado’s sunshine. Make art. Write about your day. Name three simple things for which you’re grateful. Just sit, observe and enjoy the beautiful world around you.

 

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