I am so excited that Mai Pham from Mommy Instincts is here! She has written 20 nature activities for toddlers and you are sure to find some your kids love. You will be coming back to this post time and again.
If you are looking for great ways to get your toddler out in nature, you are in the right place. Grab a cup of your favorite drink and your calendar, and let’s get started.
There is one thing that I really want to avoid seeing my little one doing: Stuck at home and playing video games.
While there is nothing bad about staying at home, especially in the global pandemic, and there are plenty of things you can do or guide your kiddos to do indoors or in the garden, getting out of the house helps your kiddos to explore the world they are living in and boost their skills.
Imagine your toddlers see a blooming flower and bend over to smell it, or they bring home some dry leaves and make a picture out of those leaves. Or they find some colorful stones and decide to decorate those stones.
It is much more fun and beneficial to create their own toys rather than go to a store and pick up some sophisticated toys for them.
Remember how relaxing and wonderful you feel when you take a deep breath of fresh air in the garden or the smell of wet earth after rain? Well, that’s the same thing your little ones will feel. Even though I like taking my son to the playground, I know it is better to just take him to a nice big park where he can see real fish swimming around.
In this article, I will give you some ideas to get you out of the house and explore nature. And don’t worry, you don’t have to live in the countryside to appreciate Mother Nature. And if you have older kids, be sure to check out “20 Ideas for Teaching Our Kids about Connecting with God Through Nature”.
How Do You Explore Nature with Toddlers?
Toddlers work at their own pace and love exploring with all of their senses. These nature activities for toddlers will have your little one in full exploration mode, learning every second of your time outside. And if you are thinking that a trampoline might be a good idea, check out this post on how to choose a good trampoline with an enclosure.
Nature Activities for Toddlers:
- Scavenger Hunt
- Stack the rocks
- Make a windchime
- Plant a tree
- Make mandalas
- Dirt play-doh
- Paint a stone
- Make a chaplet
Tell your toddlers that you want a beautiful flower, a stone, some wood sticks, or something. It is ideal if you could make the small list in advance and tell your little ones before you go out so that they will know what they need to keep an eye on.
Doing this will help your little ones pay more attention to things, acknowledge the world, and going out with a purpose is much more fun. Your toddlers will feel like they need to complete a task, and completing it will bring them the achievement sense.
Stack the rocks
Show your toddlers how to stack the rocks and aim to stack as high as possible. You can even have a small challenge between you and your kids to see who can stack rocks the highest.
This activity helps to boost their finger flexibility as well as teach them the first lesson on how to balance things. They will have to figure out themselves that each rock has a different shape and they need to encounter many many trial and error tests before the rock stay in place.
Collect things to make a wind chime
It is ideal if you are walking at the beach, then your toddlers can collect many seashells to create a beautiful wind chime.
But it doesn’t mean that you cannot make a wind chime if you are not at the beach. One benefit of nature activities for toddlers is teaching them to think outside the box. Some wood sticks, a few small and round stones, and some threads will be enough to create your own wind chime.
Don’t forget to ask your little one to color it the way he likes to make it even more colorful and playful.
Plant a tree
Do you have a small tree on your front porch and would like to relocate it? Or maybe you don’t have any green in your home and would love to fill it with some?
Take a flowerpot, a shovel with you. And of course, your toddlers.
Guide them on how to use the shovel to get the tree in or out of the flowerpot and don’t forget to explain to them your plan. Tell them that you will come back often to water and nurture the tree and they can see how it grows.
Make colorful mandalas
Oh toddlers do love colors, don’t they? If you give them some colors or some paints, or some crayons, you will see their art all over the walls.
With some leaves or flowers found in nature, dip them into the paint and press them on top of a sheet of paper. Change the shapes in a repeated pattern to make the mandalas more fun and pleasant.
Find a new paintbrush
The paintbrush doesn’t need to come from stores. You can use a leaf, a wood stick, a stone, or anything you and your little ones find in nature.
Changing the paintbrush and seeing how different the painting would be is always a fun thing to watch.
Make dirt play dough
I don’t know about you but I don’t mind my little one getting his hands dirty. Because I used to make playdough with dirt and it was so much fun. It was much more fun than playing with the normal play dough.
If you go for a nature walk with some water, let your kiddos dig their hands into the soil, mix it with water and create dirt play dough. From there, a dirt car, a dirt apple, or anything could be born with their creativity.
Sure, if you don’t feel comfortable with dirt play dough, you can guide your little ones to help you make edible flour play dough. Check out these edible playdough recipes from Kids’ Activities.
Paint a stone
Stones are all around. And it is much more fun if you bring some colors and let your toddlers paint on the stones. Once done, you can either leave it there or take it home to decorate your patio.
There are millions of ideas on what to paint on a stone, it can be the sun, a smiling face, a flower, or an animal. If your toddlers have never done it before, you will want to make an example.
Weave with nature
Get out of the house, walk in nature and collect any items that you like. It can be flowers, some twigs, some grass, some beautiful leaves.
You will want to help your toddlers with making the frame and winding twine around the frame. Show your kiddos how to weave over and under the twine. With their creativity and colorful things in nature, the result would be so pleasant.
Make a chaplet with nature
If you are walking in the spring or summer and found many blooming flowers, you are in luck. Show your toddlers how to make a flower chaplet for you, for themselves, or as a gift.
Don’t forget to wear those beautiful chaplets home. When your toddlers don’t like wearing them anymore, don’t throw them away because you can use those flowers to make a suncatcher.
Make a suncatcher
You will need some colorful items found in nature, a paper plate, and some contact paper to make a suncatcher.
Cut the middle of the paper plate to make the frame for the sun catcher, tape the contact paper to the frame, make sure you leave the sticky side up so that your toddlers can start to decorate it with things they found in nature.
One Last Thought On Nature Activities with Toddlers
When the city I lived in was in lockdown, we couldn’t take our son anywhere. He couldn’t go to school, or go for a walk, or to the playground. In fact, we were not encouraged to get out of the apartment! My son missed school and missed the outing. We were desperate for nature, but we had to go through the lockdown period with indoor activities. They were fun for sure, but there was still something missing.
As soon as we could get out, we went straight to a park (of course, stayed away from other people). My son was nearly 3 years old and he couldn’t express himself clearly in words but I saw his face.
Boy, I still remember how excited my son got when he saw the trees, the grass, the flowers, the stones. He laughed, ran, played, jumped, and became so active when he was out and about.
And that’s a wonderful reminder for me as a parent to know the importance of nature to my kiddo. We collected handsome items of nature things on that day to do our crafts.
So if you are a busy parent and feel like you don’t know what to do to keep your toddlers entertained outside, just take them to nature and let them explore. Now you have a handful of ideas to experiment with. And if you are looking for indoor activities, check out “10 Easy and simple Indoor Activities for Toddlers at Home”.
Mai Pham is a proud mom of an amazing boy. She can talk all day about her son if anyone has the time to listen. However, life is not always smooth. She has ups and downs and she is learning a new thing every day. She loves to talk, but she is the one you would go for if you need a listener. Sometimes she would hide in the bathroom for way too long. Her son’s kisses and a good book would make her day. She starts her blog, Mommy Instinct, to share her experience as a mom. She believes that all moms have what it takes to raise good kiddos when they trust their instinct. Follow her Facebook and Pinterest.