During the summer, it is important to encourage your child to play outside and explore nature. Children who get outdoor time gain many benefits like increased fine and gross motor skills, a stronger interest in science and ecology, a more developed sense of curiosity, growth in problem solving skills, and more opportunities for empathy.
One of the best parts about exploring nature is that the fun doesn’t stop when you go inside. There are so many great ways to bring nature into your family’s everyday life so that your children can continue to gain the benefits. We have so many great nature-based providers on Sawyer like Always Learning & Growing that run nature adventure classes and camps for children.
To make it even easier for your family to enjoy nature, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite nature crafts for kids and preschoolers as well as nature activities so you can keep the fun going when they are home with you. Time to explore!
Nature crafts for kids
Nature is all around us. You can collect materials for these crafts in your background, at your local park, on the beach, or some combination of these locations! If you are camping with your kids [will link], spend some time searching for great items to use for crafts in the future. You can also check out our guide with fun beach crafts for kids to get inspiration for your next beach trip.
Collect sticks and then let your children make their own stick people: literally! They can use yarn for hair and fabric to make their clothes, then paint on their faces. Act out puppet shows, introduce them to Barbie, and just have some fun playing dress up and pretend.
Twig picture frame
Another fun nature craft using sticks and twigs is to make a picture frame. Just attach 4 similar shaped sticks together and then put your picture in the middle. You can use yarn or magnets to hang or stick the picture frame to the fridge.
Did you know that you can make your own environmentally friendly glitter? All you need to do is collect multicolored flowers and then cut them up into tiny pieces. Your children can use their new eco-friendly glitter the way they use traditional plastic glitter, but you all can feel better about your choices!
Pressed flower bookmark
Collect beautiful flowers and leave with your children and then place them inside a heavy book for 3-4 days. Once your flowers are pressed, you can glue them to cardstock that you have cut into the shape of a bookmark. Then, your child can decorate how they want before you laminate or cover the bookmark with clear contact paper. Using a bookmark of their own creation will surely encourage your child to read this summer!
Nature crafts for preschoolers
Sometimes you need special projects just for the little ones in your life! Here are some of our favorite nature crafts for preschoolers and toddlers to enjoy.
- Leaf handprint. Find a big leaf outside and trace your little one’s hand on it. Then, cut it out and have your child paint the side with more prominent veins green. While the paint is still wet, use it as a stamp so you and your child can see the leaf in their handprint!
- The leafy & hungry caterpillar. Find green and red leaves to recreate the iconic cover of one of the best books for toddlers: The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Or you can ask your toddler to make their own version with the leaves they find.
- Rock pets. Collect rocks with your little one and then let them paint and decorate the rocks to make their own pets. They can be real animals or made up ones, just as long as they are having fun and using their imagination!
- Nature portrait. Ask your child to draw a self portrait or draw one a picture of them yourself, then use leaves for their hair, sticks for arms, grass for their eyelashes, and more! Learning mixed media art is a great way for toddlers to explore textures and foster creativity.
- Stick fairies. Go out and find some small sticks, beautiful leaves, pinecones, grass, and more elements to put together into a magical nature fairy. Your preschooler will be delighted by what they create.
Nature activities for kids
Being out in nature is not just about collecting materials for your crafts. These nature activities for kids are a great way for your family to have fun, explore, and learn new things in the great outdoors.
- Go on a scavenger hunt. Task your children with finding 5 pinecones, 7 different colored leaves, 1 perfectly round rock, and so on. They will love the opportunity to explore on their own or in teams while you get to see their resilience and perseverance. Use our list of scavenger hunt ideas for kids to get started.
- Get rolling with a bike ride. If you are traveling with your family or just looking to have some fun in your neighborhood, a bike ride is always a great way to get outside. Take time to stop and enjoy the trees and plants while you ride. Not sure how to teach your kid to ride a bike? Use our guide!
- Take a hike. You don’t need to climb a 14er to enjoy a hike with your family. Start small by exploring local parks and trails and then add hiking to your family’s routine when traveling and exploring new places.
- Play I Spy. Want your child to be more interested in their surroundings? Playing games like I Spy will encourage them to look around while they have fun! They won’t even know they are learning.
- Start a garden. Planting and growing your own garden is a great way for children to become more interested in nature and science. Plus, it will get them more excited to eat fruits and vegetables! Use our guide for helpful tips on gardening with kids, including safety considerations and more.
- Have a picnic. If your child is hesitant to explore nature, food is a good way to help them get more excited. Whip up some easy snacks for kids, pack a backpack, and spread out a blanket so your child can experience some outdoor time while enjoying their favorite treats.
We hope our list of nature crafts for kids and fun nature activities have given you the inspiration you need to get your family outside and exploring together. If you are looking for more craft projects just for toddlers and arts & crafts activities for kids, check out the online and in-person activities and camps that our wonderful educators are offering on Sawyer!