The world of nature beckons you and your family! There are so many fun things you can do to experience and learn about nature. Winter, spring, summer or fall, your family can have great fun exploring the outdoors in a meaningful way.

The best thing about nature exploration is that you don’t need lots of gadgets, tools or doo-dads to learn and have fun. You already have the most important tools: your eyes, hands, nose and ears!

Not only is nature exploration fun, it’s educational. Think of how many questions your child asks (and how animated she or he is) on a walk through a park or nature path. Outdoor activities often bring out the curious, creative, and self-motivated learner in all of us–and that is definitely something to encourage.

Read on for ideas and resources for your family to explore and learn outdoors, and may the force of nature be with you!

20 Fun and Easy Things to Do With Your Children Outdoors

Adapt these activities for your kids, to fit their level of development and interests and enjoy your time together. 

1) Put one foot quietly in front of the other and walk like a fox. How close can you get to a squirrel or rabbit?

2) Observe birds and imitate their movements. How do different birds move?

3) Start a collection of feathers. How can you find out what birds they belonged to?

4) Serenade a spider. “The itsy bitsy spider…” How many different kinds of webs can you find? Draw your own web.

5) Look for animal signs: tracks, poop, feathers, matted down patches of grass, nibbled plants, scratches in tree bark…

6) Make a crayon rubbing of a leaf or the bark of a tree.

7) Gather up a variety of interesting rocks. Spray with water to make the colors stand out. Investigate why rocks have colors. Tap them together and make rock music!

8) Start a nature journal or an art book.

9) Set out seeds for birds in the winter and watch to see who comes!

10) Make wind chimes out of materials you find on the ground (a stick and shells, for instance).

11) Collect the smells along your path. Can you catch a smell? Borrow different things (like pond water, earth, a flower) to put in jars. Close your eyes -can you tell what you’re smelling?

12) Slither like a snake, or tuck like a turtle!

13) Snoop around flowers and plants to see what insects you can find.

14) Roll over a log to discover what’s under it (remember to put it back when you’re done)

15) Collect a bunch of different fallen leaves in a bag. Then empty out the bag and try to match the leaves.

16) Think about how people stay warm in winter, then investigate how animals do it.

17) Try to identify some trees without leaves.

18) Look for soils of different textures and colors.

19) Lie down and look at the clouds.

20) Keep phenology records (dates of bird sightings, first blooms, trees turning color, etc.)

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