Getting your kids outside can sometimes be a bit of a struggle. Challenge your kids to play some nature games outside and before you know it, they’ll be begging to play more outdoor games. Most of these games require little preparation and few supplies while a few require some planning ahead. All will be a hit with your family!
Take a Nature walk around your neighborhood or local park. Quiz your child by having them guess what you are spying. Start with “I spy something green” and see how long you can keep the game going and what interesting things you can spy.
Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
Create a list by either writing or drawing creatures or items found in nature. You can also search for Nature Scavenger Hunts on Pinterest for ready made lists. Give each participant a bucket, a copy of the list and a marker. Next, start hunting! Show off what you found with other participants and talk about each item.
Follow the Leader
Designate a leader and followers. Then have the leader lead their followers on a nature walk over, around and under obstacles such as trees, shrubs and rocks. Periodically switch out the leader and go on different routes around a nearby trail, park or your backyard.
Find a spot to sit and relax. Have everyone close their eyes and silently listen to the world around them. Have everyone open their eyes and go around in a circle, sharing what they heard. Talk about each sound and what you think it might be. Draw or write down what was heard.
Kids love to dig. It’s fun to feel the dirt between their fingers and sometimes they can even discover bugs or seeds in the dirt. Set your child up with their own kid sized shovel and bucket and show them an appropriate place to dig. You’ll be amazed at what they find and what they build. Hand over rocks, small cars, plastic animals, twigs, etc to help build imaginary creations. Help them investigate the bugs and worms they find and talk about what purpose bugs have in a healthy garden. For the adventurous parent, give them a cup of water to make mud pies. Kids love getting dirty so maybe don’t send them out to dig in their best clothing.
Take a Nature Walk
Nature can be found everywhere, even in the biggest city so take a walk to see where you can find some. Sometimes you just have to hunt a little harder for it. Investigate the corners of your backyard or in the nearby overgrown edges of city parks.
Collect 2 each of 6 different items in nature and place them in small containers with lids. Collect flowers, rocks, acorns, shells, etc. You can also collect scents by putting essential oils on cotton balls. Scramble the containers and open them until you match all 6 items.
Download a Nature Bingo board or make your own and go on a hunt to fill your bingo board. Talk about each find with your kid and ask them questions like, “What color is that tree leaf?” or “What sound does that bird make?”. Encourage your children to look under rocks and trees to get 5 in a row!
Nature Color Match
Grab some leftover paint chips from the home improvement store and head outside to match the colors on them with something in nature. You can make your own color chips by coloring with crayons or markers on index cards and cutting them out. Try to match the most unusual color from your chips with one in nature. See if you can find all the colors of the rainbow or different shades of yellow.
Gather some trash bags and gloves for a litter race! Separate kids into teams and choose a location to have your race – a park, school playground or neighborhood. See which team or kid can pick up the most trash! Weigh the trash bags or count them or count individual items. This game will teach kids to take care of their environment while also cleaning it up!
By Rebecca Mongrain