How to Get Your Child Interested In the Outdoors – With a Freebie Activity!

boy and his girl friend walking in nature

Does your child get too much screen time or want to play indoors all the time? Or, does your child like playing outdoors, but you have a hard time finding ways to engage your child with nature? I think we’ve all been there, one way or another, either from being a busy mama, having super active kids or through weather constraints. But, we can get our kids outside to play and learn no matter the weather or our own energy levels.

But let’s talk about screens (because heaven knows we haven’t heard it enough!). As our kids are inundated with screens (in all their forms), seeing green trees, smelling musty dirt and hearing the birds in the trees can re-awaken their little minds.

I can literally see my son’s pupils change after he’s been watching a TV show then plays in the backyard. And, I see less tantrums! He is more engaged and actually sleeps better at night with just a small amount of time spent playing in the grass.

Don’t get me wrong, we can’t spend all day outside. We all have chores, cooking, cleaning, working (for some of us) and a ton of other things to do every day.

Personally, allowing my child to play on a tablet isn’t all bad since I can honestly say he has learned a lot from his educational apps. I will also admit I allow way too much screen time as I juggle life with a toddler and a baby. Before having kids, allowing screen time was something I said I would never do…

Our kids will grow up in a world full of technology some of us never had growing up. Preparing them for this new world is completely understandable. But, it all has to be balanced with the real world. I’ve read that new behaviors are becoming prevalent in schools like kids randomly walking into walls (lack of spacial awareness), underdeveloped social skills (even for those with lots of friends), and sensory disorders are on the rise.

There have been many studies on the benefits of getting your child outside. Many suggest that as little as 30-60 minutes outside can greatly benefit the welfare of your child now and as they grow. Even if you don’t give or allow your child to interact with screens and technology, the, at times, unpredictability of nature and the biological response to the sensory change to the outdoors is life changing

This study showed that kids that spend time in nature are more likely to protect and cherish the outdoors as adults.

If you are looking for more in-depth information about children in nature, I strongly suggest you read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. It’s an insightful and powerful book that will inspire you to get your kids outside:

““Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life.” – Richard Louv

boy looking at a river outdoors

My son loves the outdoors. If we are ever by water, he runs straight for it without any thought for his safety (to my chagrin and fear). The hardest thing for me is getting him to actually stop to learn and discover nature. He’s 3-years-old and is like a pingpong ball going from one thing to the next.

I made activity sheets to use while we are outside, calling them scavenger hunts or treasure hunts to make it more engaging for my toddler. I print out the pages and place them on a clipboard, then grab a small bowl to place items in (though I discourage picking leaves and flowers so he respects living things). Then, we go looking for everything on the pages!

If you want a copy of my Nature Exploration pages (and get access to all my freebies in the Hive Library), just subscribe to my email newsletter! You will receive the password in the welcome email to access the free printables.

Here are the pages I use:

Items In Nature

Activity sheet to encourage finding items in nature while discovering and learning about nature

This is a real scavenger hunt! We live in the Pacific NW and these items are almost always easy to find anywhere we go. This page focuses on physical items your child can pick up or easily spot outdoors.

Colors In Nature

Find colors in nature finding colors

My son loves to point out all the colors we see (outside and inside!). This sheet includes 9 colors for your child to find. Make sure you prompt your child to look up!

Textures In Nature

Use this sheet to find textures in nature with your child.

To get your child used to the different physical textures in nature, look for items within your child’s reach. My son used to struggle with certain textures, but using this discovery sheet has helped him be curious rather than anxious.

Things In Nature

Help your child learn about larger items in nature.

A lot like the items in nature, this page has your child look for more objects though these aren’t things you can place in a bowl!

Senses In Nature

Use your child's sense of smell to discover nature.

My son loves this sheet! Not only does this sheet include some unusual ways to learn about nature, it engages your child on a whole new level with all the senses! Encourage your child to close his/her eyes and use their nose instead!

I also did a guest post about another nature learning activity, Nature Discovery Mud Pie!

Free Nature Exploration sheets to get your kids into nature, free for subscribers to the KrisBeeMama email newsletter

Even if these pages aren’t a good fit for you and your kids, search Pinterest for other nature activities you can do with your kids. Remember, just 30-60 minutes a day!

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10 Comments

  • Reply Kerry August 30, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    These printables are great ways to get kids involved in nature. Thanks for sharing. I’m also following you now on Pinterest.

  • Reply Cindy August 30, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    I love being by water so power to you little one 😍😍 i too allow my son to be in the tablet cause of the educational apps! Very helpful but of course they need that nature view. The fresh air alone does wonders and it helps their imagination! My sons mind opens so much more when he’s outdoors slayin dragons lol. I couldn’t pick out of the nature ideas- they are all so good and beneficial!

  • Reply Ari Salas August 30, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I absolutely loved this! So many skills being taught in just one activity!

  • Reply Jennifer August 29, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    I love these ideas! My daughter loves to be outside and I’m always looking for new ways to entertain her while we’re out there. I love the idea of making it more educational for her and teaching her while we’re there. She just discovered her love of hiking this past weekend so I can see us being out in nature a lot more this fall and I can’t wait to give these pages!

    • Reply KrisBeeMama August 29, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      These pages would be great while hiking. Let me know if you give them a try and how they worked out!

  • Reply Hailee S. August 29, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    This is actually a great post! My son is too small to do any of these activities yet (he’s 10 months old). I have always planned to take him hiking once he’s older. When I was growing up we use to go camping and that’s something i want for my son!! At home when I was small my brother and I would play in the woods making teepee with electrical tape (we lived on a dirt road surrounded by forests, unfortunately now they have developed around it and there is hardly any wooded area left).

    • Reply KrisBeeMama August 29, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      The same happened to where I grew up. They developed in the gorgeous green road I used to go down to get to school. Makes me sad.

  • Reply Tal August 29, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Love this. They can use the printable’s for Nature Bingo! I am lucky that my kids love the outdoors more than their tablets. They love looking for bugs and rocks. Love that you backed your post with research.

    • Reply KrisBeeMama August 29, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Oooooh I like nature bingo!! I’m working on a guest post about another activity for the outdoors (what I’m calling Nature Discovery Mud Pie) that will be great for learning about bugs!

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