The telltale signs of spring are popping up everywhere: warmer weather, longer days and budding flowers! Celebrate the season—and the end of the Polar Vortex—by getting outside and back in touch with nature. From stimulating backyard games to educational wildlife projects, these 25 amazing activities for kids are the perfect way to enjoy this most welcome time of year!
1. Plant Strawberries
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of chris_parfitt on Flickr
Planting a garden with your child can be a great way to connect with nature. Children marvel at how a tiny seed can blossom into a mature and edible fruit, which makes this a great way to teach an oft-ignored lesson about our food sources (hint: it’s not the grocery store!). Strawberries are an ideal choice for beginner gardeners, as they can be grown in a no-fuss, all-in-one garden pot. Even better, the plump, juicy final product bursts with natural, good-for-you sweetness free of common pesticides.
What do tangled limbs and spray paint have in common? DIY lawn Twister! Take this classic party game to the great outdoors by spray painting colored circles onto the backyard lawn. The setup couldn’t be simpler, but the endless amount of wacky positions will ensure lasting laughs and fun all season long.
3. Backyard Obstacle Course
The lure of technology has nothing on this action-packed outdoor activity that challenges your little ones to get up and move. Using anything from old tires, to traffic cones, to hula-hoops, to broomsticks, you can assemble your own imaginative obstacle course that provides heart-pounding fun. Kids will go wild over the tricky courses and challenging missions, while you’ll rest easy knowing they’re getting a healthy dose of exercise.
4. Homemade Bird Feeders
What better way to get close to nature than by making a dining spot for local birds? Homemade bird feeders are a great way to keep kids engrossed in wildlife learning. Using peanut butter and a mixed bag of birdseed, you can turn anything from empty toilet paper rolls to apples into a birdfeed bonanza. We love that this educational craft is totally engaging, yet simple and cost effective to boot.
5. Make a Terrarium
Like an aquarium for plants, terrariums house a self-sufficient mini-garden perfect for your mini-sized participants. They also present a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about photosynthesis, the earth’s atmosphere and the natural world. To assemble, find a fishbowl, glass jar, or even a used plastic soda bottle as your base. Next, lay gravel on the bottom of the container before topping with a thin layer of filtering charcoal. Follow by adding soil until the container is nearly halfway full, then replant your desired vegetation. Finally, let your young ones take charge of the decorative stage, adding plastic figurines, pretty pebbles, and other assorted embellishments to construct their very own fantasy forest.
If you can’t beat ‘em, reinvent ‘em; at least, that’s what several mom bloggers have done with the über popular smartphone game, Angry Birds. By turning this app into a real life, three-dimensional outdoor activity, now there’s no excuse not to head outside when your child’s favorite video game has materialized in your backyard. Using basic sidewalk chalk, simply sketch several pig targets; then, fill up water balloons, aptly decorate with angry bird faces, and start launching for instant fun.
For a fun outdoor activity that makes basic sidewalk chalk seem humdrum, consider sidewalk chalk dolls, which showcase your budding fashionista’s unique sense of style. Start by lugging a small selection of clothes outdoors and then trace your child’s outline on the concrete. Next, let your little one get to work, dressing the sidewalk figurine in her outfit of choice. Finally, have her draw in additions like facial features, hair, shoes and accessories for a final, polished touch. This super resourceful activity revamps tired chalk play and boring, old dolls for a double boost of fun.
Backyard Scrabble is the perfect way to marry springtime weather with family game night. Simply fashion Scrabble letters from recycled cardboard, poster board or any other sturdy material lying around the house. After drawing in letters and point values, the rest is pretty much self-explanatory. You’ll love that this outdoorsy Scrabble makeover retains all the mental challenge yet provides a welcome addition of much-needed exercise for the whole family.
Who doesn’t love a good laugh? This giggle-inducing activity has participants paint facial features like noses, eyes and mouths onto rocks. The catch is that your kids are encouraged to get truly goofy in their creations. Examples include pig noses, googly eyes and purple mouths. The best part comes when kids finally piece together the miscellaneous features to create a range of hilarious, mismatched faces.
10. Make Crayon-Leaf Rubbings
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of emmacraig1 on Flickr
Springtime is lush with new blossoms and verdant greenery. Capitalize on this abundance of natural beauty by gathering a handful of fresh, vein-y leaves for this simple yet classic art project. Start by taping leaves to a piece of paper, then flip it over so that the leaves are facing down. Next, instruct children to gently rub a crayon sideways over the top of the sheet. In mere seconds, the leaf’s outline will magically transfer onto your child’s paper, creating a beautiful nature keepsake.
When the weather is this nice, there’s no need to restrict your playtime to the daylight hours. Add glow sticks to empty water bottles and light up the night with this crowd-pleasing activity. Use a basketball, soccer ball or other similarly sized sphere as your makeshift bowling ball, and try to knock down all the fluorescent pins!
Attract the elusive woodland fairies to your backyard by assembling a fairy house with your little dreamer. Moss, twigs and other earthy elements are a must, but make sure to supplement them with colored pebbles, glitter and other fantastical embellishments. You can utilize anything from a birdhouse to an old Kleenex box as a base—from there, feel free to let your kids take creative license in constructing their inspired fairy wonderland.
13. Go Berry Picking
Springtime heralds the arrival of fresh fruits and veggies, making it the perfect time to try your hand at berry picking. Thankfully, you don’t need your own plot of farmland to participate; most states offer pick-your-own farms and orchards that are the ideal springtime activity for the whole family. After a fun day in the sun, bring your haul home and commence the pie-baking, jam-making and endless fruity snacking. Our mouths are watering already!
14. Pressed-Flower Bookmarks
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of geishaboy500 on Flickr
Picking flowers is a quintessential springtime activity. Why not preserve your child’s favorite flowers this season by creating charming, pressed-flower bookmarks that will last all year long? Using an assortment of gathered flowers, simply place the items inside a thin piece of wax paper and fold. Using a standard piece of printer paper as a buffer, run a warm iron over the wax paper. The heat will seal the flowers inside, creating a unique and delicate bookmark that doesn’t require complicated lamination.
15. Colored Water Squirt Gun Games
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of Dave Q on Flickr
Like the little sister of paintball, this colorful and spirited activity is one that will be adored by younger and older kids alike. Fill water guns with a solution of washable paint and water, and make sure participants are clothed in bright white. Then, let your kiddos go crazy decorating one anothers’ T-shirts. This game can also be made more competitive by separating kids into teams using two color-coded solutions.
16. Plant a Tree
Turn your kids into environmentalists-in-training with this eco-friendly activity. Planting a tree is not only an educational endeavor, but also benefits the planet. Trees clean the air, provide oxygen and conserve energy, so your kids will feel like environmental superstars knowing they are making a difference. Find a place to plant one in your own backyard, or get permission from a school or park. The most rewarding part? This gift to the planet is one that your children can enjoy for a lifetime.
17. Tie Dye T-Shirts
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of emerson12 on Flickr
Revive the tie-dye craze by bringing this timeless activity to your own backyard. To complete this craft, you’ll need white T-shirts, rubber bands, dye and an imaginative mind. From there, the options are practically endless for bright color combinations and sunny, psychedelic designs. Your children will be teeming with excitement to see the final product, and you can hang the finished shirts out to dry in the warm, springtime sunshine.
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18. Buy a Butterfly Raising Kit
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of steven depolo on Flickr
A butterfly kit has so many benefits for your little ones: it provides immeasurable amounts of fun, educates children about metamorphosis, and even teaches them the critical skill of observing without disturbing. This exciting, hands-on activity is great for kids of all ages; after all, who wouldn’t enjoy watching a caterpillar miraculously blossom into a beautiful butterfly? With the purchase of a mesh habitat and a handful of caterpillars, your family can easily join in on the fun.
19. Create a Nature Scavenger Hunt
Take the kids to the park, walk around the neighborhood or restrict it to your backyard; either way, get your tykes to engage with the outdoors using a nature-themed scavenger hunt. Fortunately, this game is easily customizable depending on where you live and what kind of foliage is available. Type a list of things to scavenge for—they can be as specific as a daisy or as vague as something green. Or print pictures for youngsters who don’t know how to read yet. The rules are simple: whoever finds the most natural treasures wins!
Popularized by the movie The Princess Diaries, balloon-dart painting adds a punch of color and style to a basic canvas, sans artistic skill. Since darts are far too dangerous for your younger kids, give this insanely fun craft a more child-friendly makeover by trading darts for kabob skewers. Just fill balloons with air and a small glob of paint, and then attach to a canvas or poster board. Take this messy activity outdoors and let your little ones pop the balloons, creating a gorgeous, paint-splattered canvas worthy of hanging in your home. ()
This ultra-economical activity can be assembled using only $1, making it a clear contender for playtime. Simply pick up cheap aluminum foil from the dollar store and unravel, folding the narrow, horizontal edges up to create a U-shaped curve. Then, turn on the hose to provide this tin foil river with a stream of running water. Kids can float their favorite toys, or you can create super simple boats using ice cube trays and toothpicks.
All you need for this nature-inspired ornament is contact paper and a sundry collection of flowers, leaves and petals. Take your little gatherer outdoors to collect materials, then cut the contact paper to a shape of your liking. Next, peel the backing off one side of paper, allow your child to arrange items to his or her liking, and then sandwich the sun-catcher with another piece of backing. When this beautiful craft catches the sunlight, you’ll be reminded that springtime has officially arrived.
Warm weather and water go together like peanut butter and jelly. Indeed, this wet and wild activity has springtime written all over it! To assemble water balloon piñatas, start by stringing up several water balloons from low-hanging tree branches. Then, proceed to blindfold your youngsters before giving them a good spin. Finally, hand them a baseball bat, and let them take a whack at their water-filled targets. Kids will love cooling off with this refreshing activity, while moms will appreciate taking candy out of the equation.
24. Create Sun Prints
CREDIT: CC Image courtesy of fotologic on Flickr
This amazing art project harnesses the power of the sun to create shadow-like prints that your kids are bound to cherish. Encourage them to scavenge for found objects like intricate twigs and leaves with unique outlines, since these will transfer best. Using sun-sensitive paper, briefly dip a sheet in water to activate. Then, make sure your kiddos scramble to assemble their design, since the collage sets in roughly two minutes beneath the beaming rays of sun. Return the paper to water for the prescribed amount of time and let dry before handling.
We guarantee even older kids will want to join in on this fun. By nestling folded-up glow sticks inside several Easter eggs, you can create glowing, luminescent objects that are a blast to search for in the dark. You’ll have to get extra creative with hiding places, since these eggs literally radiate light. For added entertainment and incentive, place various amounts of money in each egg for the older kids, or stick to small candies for the younger crowd.