Our heart goes out to all affected and stressed by the recent coronavirus strain. These are times when our heart hurts and our mind spins. These are times to lean in and support each other.
We know you’re probably receiving a flood of updates, information, etc. We also want you to know that we are practicing all of the safety guidelines for California businesses at this time.
In the meantime, here are five nature activities for kids. Our team wants to support you, in whatever little ways we can.
Please feel free to reach out, leave comments, and be in touch with us. We also offer an article with additional educational activities that you can do on your patio or backyard.
Nature Activity # 1 – Get Outside (when safe)
We recognize that this idea to “get outside” has complications based on where you live, what’s accessible, and what’s allowed with current news and updates. We also want to remind folks who can get outside, that even a 5-minute excursion—while practicing social distancing, can be a huge relief to parents, caretakers, etc.
If you can, opt for short-but-sweet trips outside, bearing in mind that bathroom access may be limited and playgrounds are not safe to use at this time.
And if you can’t get outside, hang in there. Our next activities are for you.
Additional Activities for Park Outings:
- Bring a nature journal! You can even make your own, with spare paper and a stapler.
- “Meet a Tree” – In this activity, have you and any children along “interview” a tree. They can get creative with this, asking the tree questions like, “What advice do you have for the world right now? How old are you? What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen?”
- Belly Botany – If you notice a plant in a park, or if you’re really lucky and find a flower, have you and any children along get really close to the species. What do they notice about it? If they could give the flower a name, what would it be? Are there insects around the flower?
- Neighborhood Insect “Scavenger Hunt” – Pose this as a challenge. “How many _______ do you think we can find in the next 10 minutes?” Fill in the blank with names of insects, types of trees, numbers of pollinators, etc. Spring is a great time to look for insects. Maybe the winner of the scavenger hunt gets a little prize?
- Need some resources? This is where we can help. We have plenty of Outdoor Education tools, for all ages and backgrounds.
Nature Activities 2-5 (below) are geared for people who might be unable to get outside or need “strictly inside” activities.
We hope these ideas can help ease the stress of these hard times.
Nature Activity # 2 – Do a Park Report
This is a great time to combine a little research with a little fun. You need a computer and internet access for this unless you have books and guides lying around.
You can also see if there’s a “park expert” within the group or family, who can be interviewed for information. Activity details below!
- Have your kids (or whoever you are watching) choose a park to focus on. You can focus on National Parks if you’re based in the United States, or focus on State Parks, Regional Parks, City Parks, etc.
- Set a goal “word count” and have kids research about the park, then deliver the information in a verbal or visual presentation.
- Consider offering a debate question, such as “why should or shouldn’t this park receive more funding?”
- Additional questions to research: when was the park founded? who was there before the park became “founded?” What are the main features of the park? When is the best time to visit?
- Wrap-up this lesson with a virtual tour of the park, led by the one who researched it!
Nature Activity # 3 – Start a Journal
Writing can offer a lot of relief during stressful times. Are there any spare journals available that have been on a dusty shelf? Now is the time to break them out.
You can also make your own journal—that can even be an additional “stay at home” activity. For that, it can be as simple as paper and colorful tape. We like these easy ideas on Pinterest too.
If you want a journal for the long haul, we have some as well, many of which come with prompts and inspiring quotes in them. You can check out those journals here.
Fun fact: Our co-founder Jenny Rigby made our Student Nature Journals specifically for people wanting to deepen their connection to nature.
Nature Activity # 4 – Get Crafty
There are so many crafts that combine creativity with nature connection. When was the last time you made a homemade bird feeder or birdhouse? Is there a place you can put one once our world settles from this chaotic shift?
There are lots of ways to let kids express themselves, get a little messy, and have a break from screen time.
Check out our Pinterest board for more craft ideas!
Nature Activity # 5 – Bring Science Inside
There are so many ways to make science come alive while also honoring your local safety protocols. We know this is a trying time, especially for folks with children to look after—let alone entertain and keep uplifted.
Pulse check: how are you doing?
We are happy to be a resource during this time. As environmental educators and teachers, we have plenty of ideas and ways to make at-home learning come alive.
Please feel free to share this article with any parents, educators, caregivers, etc., who might benefit from some of these ideas.
Hang in there, world.