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7 Must-Try Nature Activities for Toddlers: Raising a Little Explorer Outdoors

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In this article, you’ll find a list of some must-try outdoor activities for toddlers. You’ll be able to find various ideas, including loosely structured and child-led outdoor activities for kids. Educators, homeschoolers, or anyone looking to enhance their child’s connection to the natural world can use these activities and nature craft ideas.

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1. Make an Explorer Kit

This is a more detailed project, but trust me, it’s worth it! Once this explorer kit is complete, your little one will open the lid to reveal a neatly packed collection of observation tools they can use in nature. The tools will be secure for safe travel and organization! The kit opens and stands up on its own to make an on-the-go nook for nature investigation.

All you need to create a DIY explorer kit is:

2. Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt 

Scavenger hunts are fun for everyone, and the good news is the options are endless for nature scavenger hunts, making them a great activity. First, you can have your toddler find something easy; this could be finding something that’s a specific color, something that’s dry, something that’s huge, something that crawls, etc. You can make it more difficult once your child gets better at spotting things. Have them look for three different flowers, a fuzzy leaf, a plant that releases an aroma when crushed, or even try to find things in categories. This could be items that are high, items with branches, or items with bark.

3. Create a Garden

Kids love dirt; if you’re a parent, this is not news to you! However, taking your child to the playground and having them come back covered in dirt can be inconvenient. You can curb this by offering your child free reign in the soil while they tend to a garden! 

Gardening is a captivating activity for little ones. The enchantment of nurturing plants holds universal appeal for children of all ages. Witnessing that first seedling sprout from a seed that was carefully sown and cared for by a young one is truly exhilarating! Furthermore, remember that gardening fosters outdoor engagement and provides opportunities for relaxation and the myriad benefits of connecting with nature.

4. Make Different Art Projects

There’s a wide variety of different art projects that can be made. Your child could collect pinecones, twigs, and rocks to make small structures. You could find a comfy backyard spot to create bird feeders/houses. One idea that I have yet to try but find intriguing is to use berries to make paint and have your children use a paintbrush to paint on the cement!

One art project that my child loves is tracing flowers and leaves. Plants come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. This makes them perfect for tracing! Bring a crayon or two and have your little one pick out a plant or leaf. This could be a dandelion or a maple leaf, and let them go to town. Be sure you bring enough paper because most kids (like mine) will want to trace everything they see! 

5. Observe and Sketch

This is an excellent idea for kids who love to draw! Have them inspect objects and draw what they see. For example, have your toddler locate some flowers with various hues. They can focus on petal shape, the stem’s size, or the colors they portray.  Alternatively, you can gather an assortment of leaves and have your child closely examine their veining patterns, colors, and textures. You can even join in and make it a fun bonding experience; this allows your child to step into the scientist role, meticulously noting down and recording their visual discoveries.

6. Go on a Nature Walk

Exploring a trail leading to a beautiful waterfall or a captivating view instills a sense of achievement in children and allows them to acknowledge their physical exertions throughout the journey. This principle extends to bicycle rides as well! The possibilities are endless for nature walks; they’re also great for sensory exploration!  If you live in a warmer climate, you can even prepare to hike to a refreshing swimming spot that will allow you and your family a chance to unwind and cool down. Remember to incorporate brief pauses and pack snacks to ensure their energy remains replenished along the way!

7. Have some Nature Ninja Time 

Toddlers and preschoolers constantly have energy, and they’re often bursting with eagerness to explore! This is where “nature ninja time” comes in. Nature ninja time involves utilizing the fundamental elements of the outdoors to help enhance your child’s gross motor and fine motor skills. I recommend finding logs for them to climb over, miniature bridges for them to climb, and tree roots to walk over. Nature offers a unique obstacle course that effectively strengthens spatial orientation, balance, and the ability to navigate varying terrains like inclines.

If you’re lucky enough to have a nearby natural playground, take your child there! If you don’t, you can embark on an excursion to find the perfect natural setting. For those fortunate enough to have a private play area, consider adding natural components that can contribute to the advancement of your toddler’s physical abilities. This could be small bridges, slopes,  elevated platforms, or other means to allow your toddler to engage in their physical prowess.

BONUS: Observe What Changes Through the Seasons

To help your little one understand the seasons, allow them to observe the trees as they change through the seasons! I suggest keeping an eye out for the emergence of flower and leaf buds during the spring, the activity of buzzing insects through the summer, and the fantastic transformation of leaves as they change colors during the fall. Throughout every season, remain observant of the tree’s visitors, including small creatures like birds in search of food or a safe spot to rest.

The important part is that you have fun no matter the activity and be led by your imagination. Happy exploring, my friends!


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