Learn about nature and the mysteries it holds with this fantastic 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 preschoolers and kindergarteners to elementary-aged students and teens. And the outdoor learning activities and nature craft ideas on this list of outside activities 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 included here are also helpful for nature school preschools and forest school kindergartens. The suggestions include nature study ideas, outdoor science ideas, and nature crafts for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, elementary school-age children, tweens, and teens!
Nature Activities and Nature School Ideas for Kids of All Ages
Below we have created and collected several 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 kids to take the lead in their outdoor education, so instead of teaching children about nature and the great outdoors, act as a guide and fellow nature explorer. Use the nature activities on the list of outdoor ideas below as a starting point for your day-to-day adventures in learning.
In other words, using these nature activities and suggestions to facilitate play rather than teaching is best. But then, once play begins, step aside and allow it to unfold naturally. As parents and educators, we must allow children the space they need to discover what interests them most.
“Roots of understanding grow deep when curious minds are nourished in nature.“Nell Regan Kartychok (Founder of Rhythms of Play).
Then it’s best to allow that interest to ignite their curiosity and guide them to discover the answers to their questions by means of exploration and discovery in the natural world. Inviting children to ask questions without answering them directly is also best. So that they can learn how to discover, become aware of, and recognize clues to the answers they seek.
Outdoor Nature Activities for Kids
I must admit that a few of the outdoor activities for kids suggested were written long ago and desperately need 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 and create them. So 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
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 for children from toddlers to teens.
- Squirrel Learning Ideas – Invite children to learn about squirrels with this list of facts, fun squirrel-themed teaching ideas, outdoor activities, and cute squirrel crafts for kids! Get the Printable Squirrel Behavior Tally Sheet and invite kids to count the common squirrel behaviors they notice.
- Make Mud Pies – Playing with mud is an excellent 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 – Tree climbing is an outdoor activity with many benefits for the developing child. Discover how to climb a tree, support your child’s first efforts to climb trees, and other benefits of risky play.
- Create Nature Mandalas – Gather nature’s treasures to make a mandala with natural materials outside.
- Explore a Shore – Take the time to explore a seashore, lakeshore, river shore, 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 – This outdoor gross motor balance challenge for Kids gives children the opportunity to develop their kinesthetic and vestibular sensory systems.
- Make Sunprints – Invite children to place objects from nature on sun print paper and expose it to the sun for a fun way to keep kids busy learning outside.
- 10 Ways to Have Fun Outside with Fall Leaves – Autumn is an excellent time of year to get outside to play in falling leaves. We have ten fun ways to make outdoor fall leaf play a little more exciting and fun!
- Rainy Day Art – Put marker drawings and doodles outside to be transformed by the rain to create rain art with this fun rainy day STEAM activity for kids.
- Fun Ways to Play in the Rain – Here are 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? Here’s a gross motor movement and nature math game for the kids to enjoy in the fall or autumn.
- 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 memory game, increasing its brain-building power.
Fun Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids
Nature scavenger hunts appeal to the child’s natural interest in discovering the many 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 natural items 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 fantastic video we made.
- Birding Scavenger Hunts – Visit our bird-watching activities post for a few fun birding scavenger hunt ideas for kids.
- Seasonal Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas – Invite your children to witness the transformation in nature as one season changes to the next with these seasonal nature scavenger hunt ideas.
Outdoor Gardening Activities for Kids
A garden is also a fantastic place for children to plant the seeds of their learning. Early literacy, math, and science concepts are abundant in homegrown gardens. And, when children know how to grow and harvest the foods they eat, their minds, bodies, and the future of our planet will benefit immensely. Tending the cycle of nature in our backyards is becoming a lost art. Learn how to become one of the way-showers for the next generation in your neck of the woods, whether rural, urban, suburban, or city.
- 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 (photo below)
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 soon! Learn more 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 are 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 with these fun outdoor learning activities for kids. And get our Printable Squirrel Behavior Tally Sheet in Rhythms of Play Learning Center.
- Observe Bees – Watching bees is an excellent way for children to learn about the importance of pollination and much more!
- Investigate Worms – Learn how worms enrich the soil 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 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
- Make a Nature Mandala
- Rock Balancing Stone Stacking STEAM
Related: Rainbow Science and STEAM activities
DIY Outdoor Play Areas to Support Learning Outside
It’s important to challenge the minds and bodies of children with outdoor place spaces that support and benefit the development of a healthy vestibular system, cardiovascular system, and gross and fine motor muscle movements.
Below is a list of fun outdoor play areas for nature school preschools, forest school kindergartens, homeschoolers, and backyards everywhere that help do just that! Give your children the opportunity to get outside and learn through play in spring, summer, fall, and winter with any of these fun outdoor play spaces.
- How to Make an Outdoor DIY Chalkboard
- Best Sand and Water Tables to DIY or Buy!
- How to Grow a Sunflower House or Fort
- DIY Outdoor Art Table and Mud Kitchen
- How to Make a Fairy Garden
- Sandboxes Children LOVE!
- Swingsets, swings, and hammocks
- Little slides and big slides
- Climbing wall or structure
- Balance beams, logs, stumps, stepping stones, or large boulders to walk on or climb
- Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course
- Zipline pulley and slack lines
- Outdoor trampoline
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
- Find your way in a Corn Maze
- Berry Picking and Wild Foraging
- Enjoy nature reserves near and far for wildlife viewing and more.
- Visit the information center at local, national, and state parks to learn more about activities and adventures you can do with kids in each area.
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 the natural world (or natural objects representing nature) are placed on the table to be learned about, played with, and enjoyed.
We change our nature table every few months to reflect the season, adding and removing items throughout the seasons of the year. Check out our nature table ideas for each season! Invite your children to bring the treasures they collect in the natural world home to their nature table or shelf to explore more depth.
More Learning Fun for All Seasons
Here’s a list of traditional seasonal celebration ideas during the year’s rhythm. Celebrating the changes that occur throughout the year and observing seasonal changes is a great way to educate children and bring more meaning to family life.
Seasonal Celebration Ideas
Celebrate the changing seasons that fall within the “Wheel of the Year” with the solstice and equinox solar festival celebration ideas and cross-quarter day sabbat festivals below.
- Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas
- Imbolc Traditions and Celebration Ideas
- Ways to Celebrate the Spring Equinox
- May Day Traditions and Celebration Ideas
- Summer Solstice Celebration Ideas
- Ways to Celebrate the Fall Autumnal Equinox
- Traditional Fall Lantern Walk Celebration Ideas
- Stone Spiral Advent
Fun Seasonal Activities To Do with Kids
Here’s a list of fun outdoor activities for kids (and adults) for each season of the year.
- Summer Activities for Kids
- Fall Activities for Kids
- Winter Activities for Kids
- Spring Activities for Kids
Seasonal Books for Kids
Reading seasonal books with your children is a beautiful way to share the wonder and magic of nature and the changing seasons.
Nature Arts and Crafts for Kids (And adults, too!)
We have collected many awesome nature art and craft ideas you can try with your children. Click on the links below for some of our favorite ideas. And visit our Nature Crafts and Nature Art Activities page for even more ideas!
- Acorn Marble Necklace or Christmas Ornament Craft
- Nature Mandla Art and Craft Ideas
- How to Paint Rocks: Rock Painting Ideas for Kids
- The Best Fall Nature Crafts for Kids
- How to Preserve Leaves
- Leaf Lantern Craft
- Nature-Inspired Sensory Bottles
Seasonal Art Projects for Kids
Creating seasonal art is an excellent way for children to learn about nature and the changing seasons. Try any of the fantastic art project ideas below!
- Fall Art Projects for Kids
- The Best Winter Art Projects for Kids
- Flower Art Projects and Painting Ideas
- Four Season Handprint and Fingerprint Tree
The Best Books for Outdoor Parents and Educators Raising Nature-Loving Kids
The list of books below has my all-time favorites for outdoor parents and nature school educators passionate about getting kids outside to learn naturally. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
- There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather
- Failure to Connect
- 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
- Call of the Wild and Free
- Endangered Minds
- Glow Kids
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.
We will add 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!
If You Liked Nature Activities for Kids, You Might Also Enjoy
- Spring Activity Ideas (with a printable spring bucket list)
- Summer Activity Ideas (with a printable summer bucket list)
- Fall Activity Ideas (with a printable fall bucket list for the autumn)
- Winter Activity Ideas (with a printable winter bucket list)