Learn about nature and the mysteries that it holds with this amazing collection of outdoor activities for kids.
This article contains several lists of fun outdoor learning ideas and nature activities for kids of all ages. In it, you can find both child-led and loosely structured outdoor activities for kids from toddlers to teens. The outdoor learning activities and nature craft ideas listed can be used by homeschoolers, educators, or anyone seeking to enhance their child’s understanding of or connection to, the natural world.
Many outdoor nature activities for kids listed are also useful for nature school preschools and forest school kindergartens. The suggestions include nature study ideas, outdoor science ideas, and nature crafts for elementary school-age children and teens!
Nature Activities and Nature School Ideas for Kids of All Ages
Below we have created and collected a whole slew of fun ways to support outdoor learning in nature. Remember, these forest school nature activities and outdoor learning ideas for kids are only suggestions.
Forest school is about allowing your children to take the lead in their outdoor education. Instead of teaching your children about nature and the great outdoors, act as a guide and fellow nature explorer by using any of these activities as a starting point for your day-to-day adventures in learning.
In other words, it is best to use these nature activities and suggestions to facilitate play rather than teach. But then, once play has been initiated, step aside and allow it to unfold naturally.
It is important to encourage children to find their own interests in the natural world. As parents and educators, we need to make the space available for children to ask questions and learn how to discover and recognize clues to the answers that they seek.
I have to admit that a few of the outdoor activities for kids suggested were written long ago and are in desperate need of a tune-up. However, we are updating them all and have plans to add new outside activities, forest school ideas, and nature activities for kids of all ages over the next few months. Stay tuned!
We will add more outdoor learning ideas, nature activities, and nature crafts for nature school preschools, forest schools, and nature-based homeschoolers to this list as we continue to find them and create them. So be sure to bookmark this page for easy reference, and check back often!
**Click on the title of each forest school suggestion to learn more about each nature activity for kids!**
Related: Get Outside and Connect
Outside Activities for Kids: Outdoor Nature Activities for Kids
Children will love these outside activities so much–they won’t even realize they are learning. This list of nature activities for kids is brimming with some of the best outdoor activities for toddlers to teens–which of these classic outdoor activities is your favorite?
- How to Skip a Rock – Learn all about the art and science of Skipping stones in this fun article. Can you beat the world record number of skips?
- Birding for Kids – Bird watching, or birding, is a fun wilderness observation activity from children from toddlers to teens.
- Squirrel Learning Ideas and Outdoor Activities – Invite children to learn about squirrels with this list of squirrel facts, fun squirrel-themed learning ideas, and cute squirrel crafts for kids!
- Make Mud Pies – Playing with mud is a wonderful sensory activity for the developing child. A classic old-school nature activity for kids!
- 15 Reasons to Climb a Tree and Other Benefits of Risky Play Activities – Tree climbing is an outdoor activity that has many benefits for the developing child. Learn how to climb a tree, how to support your child’s first efforts to climb trees and other benefits of risky play in this informative article.
- Explore a Shore – Take the time to explore a seashore, lakeshore, river shore, and/or creek shore… Learning happens naturally when we get outside!
- Go Bouldering – Find an area to let the kids scramble and climb around on small boulders for a fantastic outdoor gross motor activity with many physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
- Hug a Tree – A fun outdoor activity for all ages.
- Roll Down a Hill – Rolling down a hill is excellent for the developing sensory system.
- Walk Across Fallen Trees and Logs – Give children the opportunity to develop their kinesthetic and vestibular sensory systems with this outdoor gross motor balance challenge for Kids.
- Make Sunprints – Invite children to place objects from nature on sunprint paper and expose it to the sun.
- 10 Ways to Have fun Outside with Fall Leaves – The autumn is a great time of year to get outside to play the falling leaves. We have 10 fun ways to make outdoor fall leaf play a little more interesting and a lot more fun!
- Fun Ways to Play in the Rain – 20 outdoor rainy day play activities that will have your kids running for the back door when it rains.
Nature Games for Kids
- Fall Leaf Counting – Have you ever tried to catch autumn leaves as they fall to the ground? Try this gross motor movement and nature math game with the kids this fall.
- Stone Skipping Games – Play some simple stone skipping math games.
- DIY Nature Memory Matching Game for Kids – Excercise the brain and boost memory skills with this fun twist on the classic game of memory. Using items found in nature adds a sensory component to the game of memory that increases its brain-building power.
Fun Nature Scavenger hunt Ideas for Kids
Nature scavenger hunts appeal to the child’s natural interest in discovering all of the clues that can be seen, heard, and felt in the natural world.
Invite your children to discover the magic and wonder of the natural world with some of these creative nature scavenger hunt ideas for kids.
- Sensory Card Nature Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers – Make a nature sensory card with your children and send them on a nature scavenger hunt.
- Nature Sensory Bin Scavenger Hunt– Collect items in nature and use them to make a nature sensory bin for children. (Photo below)
- Heart Shape Nature Scavenger Hunt – Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt for colors or shapes? My daughter and I love looking for hearts in nature. Check out the amazing video we made.
- Birding Scavenger Hunts – Head over to our bird watching activities post for a few fun birding scavenger hunt ideas for kids.
- Seasonal Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas – Invite your children to become a witness to the changes occurring in nature as one season changes to the next with these seasonal nature scavenger hunt ideas.
Outdoor Gardening Activities for Kids
Children benefit immensely when they understand where their food comes from and how to grow their own food.
A garden is also an amazing place for children to plant the seeds of their own learning. Early literacy, math, and science concepts are found in abundance in the garden.
- Plant Flowers with Kids
- How to Plant a Tree
- Composting with Kids
- How to Start Tomatoes
- Growing Sunflowers with Kids
- How to Make a Fairy Garden
Related: 15 Ways to Raise a Helper
Nature Study Ideas for Kids
We have a few nature study ideas to use as a starting point in your outdoor learning adventures. Stay tuned for more ways to learn from and with nature coming your way soon!
Learn more about Nature Study on our Nature Study Resource Page.
- How to Make and Keep a Nature Journal – Nature journals are an excellent place for our children to write about their observations in nature and used to create artwork when out in nature.
- The Best Nature study supplies for Kids – A must-have list of nature study supplies to keep in your child’s nature backpack.
- Bird Watching Activities and Lessons for Kids – Children love to watch and learn about birds in their backyard, neighborhood, local park, and nature reserves.
- Squirrel Facts and Fun Ways to Learn All About Squirrels – Invite children to learn everything there is to know about squirrels with this list of squirrel-themed nature study ideas! Spend time observing the squirrels in your backyard, and more, with this list of fun outdoor learning activity for kids.
- Observe Bees – Watching bees is an excellent way for children to learn about the importance of pollination and so much more!
- Investigate Worms – Learn about how worms make the soil rich and help your garden grow.
- Explore a Shore – Take the time to explore and study a seashore, lakeshore, river shore, or creek shore. Learning happens–naturally when we get outside!
More Outside Activities for Kids: Outdoor Learning Ideas and Suggestions for Children
Outdoor Science and STEAM Activity Ideas for Kids
There are so many fun ways to learn and play with nature. Try some of these outdoor science, STEM, and STEAM ideas for children.
- Fun and Educational Shadow Activities for kids
- Fly a Kite
- Skip Stones
- Human Sundial Science Experiment
- Shadow Art STEAM project
- Rainy Day Art
- Sorting and Classifying Rocks: Geology for kids
- Rock Balancing Stone Stacking STEAM
Related: Rainbow Science and STEAM activities
DIY Outdoor Play Areas to Support Learning Outside
There is a fun collection of outdoor play areas for nature school preschools, forest school kindergartens, homeschoolers, and backyards everywhere! Give your children the opportunity to get outside and learn through play with any one of these fun outdoor play spaces.
- How to Make an Outdoor Chalkboard
- Sand and Water Tables Kids LOVE!
- How to Grow a Sunflower House or Fort
- DIY Outdoor Art Table and Mud Kitchen
- How to Make a Fairy Garden
- Sandboxes Children LOVE!
Field Trip Ideas for Parents and Educators
Go on a field trip with the kids for even more outdoor learning fun!
- Apple Orchard Field Trip Ideas
- Pumpkin Patch Field Trip Family Guide
- Get Lost In a Corn Maze!
- Berry Picking and Wild Foraging
Nature Activities for Kids: More Fun Ways to Learn about Nature
Nature Tables for Every Season
A nature table is a space in the home dedicated to nature and the natural world. Items collected in nature or natural items representing nature are placed on the table to be learned about, played with, and enjoyed.
Please encourage your children to bring the treasures that they collect in the natural world home to their nature table or shelf to explore in more depth.
We change our nature table every few months to reflect the season, so the items are added and taken away throughout the year. Check out our nature table ideas for each season!
Seasonal Celebration Ideas
Celebrate the changing seasons with the solstice and equinox celebration ideas below.
- Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas
- Ways to Celebrate the Spring Equinox
- Summer Solstice Celebration Ideas
- Ways to Celebrate the Fall Autumnal Equinox
Seasonal Books for Kids
Reading seasonal books with your children is a wonderful way to share the wonder and magic of nature and the changing seasons.
We have collected lots of awesome nature art and craft ideas that you can try with your children. Click on the links below for all our favorite ideas!
- Nature Crafts and Nature Art Activities Using Natural Materials
- How to Paint Rocks: Rock Painting Ideas for Kids
- The Best Fall Nature Crafts for Kids
- Nature Inspired Sensory Bottles
Seasonal Art Projects for Kids
Creating seasonal art is a great way for children to learn about nature and the changing seasons. Try any of the amazing art project ideas below!
- Fall Art Projects for Kids
- The Best Winter Art Projects for Kids
- Flower Art Projects Kids LOVE!
- Four Season Handprint and Fingerprint Tree
The Best Books for Outdoor Parents and Educators Raising Nature-Loving Kids
The amazing collection of books listed below are some of our all-time favorites for outdoor parents and nature school educators who are passionate about getting kids outside to learn naturally. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
- I love Dirt
- There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather
- Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature Rich Life
- Last Child in the Woods
- Nature Preschools and Nature Kindergartens: The Handbook of Outdoor Learning
- Balanced and Barefoot
- How to Raise a Wild Child
- Nature Fix
- Childhood and Nature
- Endangered Minds
The Best Nature Activities for Kids and Educators
We hope you enjoy this collection of outdoor learning ideas for homeschoolers, outdoor educators, and anyone looking to enhance their child’s connection to the natural world. You may also like this collection of nature crafts and art ideas that use natural materials.
We will be adding to this list of nature school preschool, forest school kindergarten, and nature study ideas as we find and create more, so don’t forget to bookmark this list of outside activities for kids and check back often!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!