Fun Nature Activities and Crafts For Kids

Observing animals and plants is fun and educational. In addition, nature can provide the inspiration for many activities and crafts.
Observing animals and plants is fun and educational. In addition, nature can provide the inspiration for many activities and crafts. | Source

Nature Study in Summer

Summer is a fantastic time for children to explore the natural world and participate in fun nature activities. At this time of year nature is awake, blossoming and energetic. Even in cities there are parks, public gardens and green areas where nature can be observed. There are many possible nature-themed activities that children can enjoy, including creating a nature journal, gardening, performing experiments, producing a wide range of arts and crafts, taking photographs of living things, making videos and writing stories and poems. There’s no reason to be bored during summer with so much to do!

Although the greatest variety of plants and animals can be seen in summer, nature activities and crafts are enjoyable at any time of year.

Discovering a spider in a public garden
Discovering a spider in a public garden | Source

Creating a Nature Journal

Nature study can be fascinating. It enables children to discover things about animals and plants from first-hand observations instead of by reading about them in a reference source. They may even discover something that was previously unknown!

Studying nature is not only interesting but can also improve observational and documentation skills. There are many aspects of a plant or animal's life that children could document. Some possibilities include answers to the following questions.

  • What did the animal or plant look like?
  • How big was it?
  • Where was it found?
  • What was its environment like?
  • What was the animal doing?
  • What was the date and time of day?
  • What was the weather like?
  • What was the temperature?

How to Make a Beautiful Cover for a Nature Journal

Things to Add to a Nature Journal

A nature journal may contain more than just a written record of discoveries. Ideally, it's an expression of a child's creativity as well as their interests. Children may decide to add some of the following elements to their journal in addition to written descriptions.

  • tables
  • graphs
  • opinions
  • drawings
  • photos
  • pressed leaves and flowers
  • decorations

A magnifying glass opens up a whole new world for nature enthusiasts.
A magnifying glass opens up a whole new world for nature enthusiasts. | Source

Magnifying Plants and Animals

If a child has a magnifying instrument, a whole new world of nature exploration can open up. A magnifying glass can provide a closer view of plant and insect parts and of small animals that are safe to touch, such as earthworms. Binoculars will give a closer view of birds and animals. A microscope can be used to examine microscopic organisms in pond water. It can also be used to greatly magnify small plant parts and other items that children might discover on their nature walks, such as feathers and parts of dead insects.

When buying optical equipment, it's a good idea to look for a device that has reasonable quality as well as being affordable. Cheap optics often produce unsatisfactory images and don't maintain the interest of children.

Growing plants in a garden or in containers can be fun for children.
Growing plants in a garden or in containers can be fun for children. | Source

Gardening and Plant Experiments

Gardening is fun for most children. It can be magical to see a carefully nurtured plant grow from a seed or to see plant parts such as onions, beans and carrot tops develop into full-grown plants. It's also fun and healthy for children to eat produce that they've grown themselves.

For children who enjoy experiments, groups of plants can be grown under different environmental conditions and careful records kept so that comparisons can be made. For example, children could compare the effects of different temperatures, soil types or amounts of light on the growth of a specific type of plant. They could also find out whether using plain water or water with various quantities of additives makes the plant grow better. Some plants, such as celery, will absorb food colours added to water. The rate at the which the colour travels through the plant could be measured.

Cress seeds sprout easily on damp cotton wool or paper towel. Many children enjoy watching the seeds grow and then eating the sprouts. Creating cress hair for an egg is a fun variation of this activity.

Cress Egg Head Tutorial (No Sound)

Nature Art

Even an inexpensive pencil and piece of paper is enough for a child to draw plants and animals from nature. Libraries usually have books showing children how to draw living things. Observation and art skills get better - that is, more accurate - with practice. Art doesn’t have to be an accurate representation of reality to be great, however! Coloured pencils, crayons, felts, oil pastels, coloured inks, watercolour pencils and paints can add colour to drawings.

Computer art programs can also be useful for drawing natural objects. Some programs are free to download or to use in an Internet browser. Computers can be used for free at many libraries. There are inexpensive art programs available for the iPod Touch and other personal electronic devices. If a child is lucky enough to have access to one of these devices, they can create digital art outdoors. Despite the relatively small screen of an iPod Touch, people are creating wonderful pieces of art with it.

Coloured pencils are portable and are a great aid for nature drawings.
Coloured pencils are portable and are a great aid for nature drawings. | Source

Creating Collages

Many children find nature collages fun to create. Cutting pictures out of magazines, newspapers, greeting cards and food and gift packaging and then arranging them in an interesting design is a creative process. Personal photos and other items such as fibres and fabrics can also be used to make a collage, creating a unique piece of art.

Pressed flowers and leaves are great additions to collages, greeting cards and bookmarks. Leaf and flower prints or stamps made from natural objects can be useful as well. Natural stamps can be made by forming a shape on the cut surface of a potato and then dipping the shape in paint or ink.

This is a beautiful piece of art created from pressed flowers and leaves. Children who want brighter colours in their art instead of pastel shades could include pink, blue and purple flowers.
This is a beautiful piece of art created from pressed flowers and leaves. Children who want brighter colours in their art instead of pastel shades could include pink, blue and purple flowers. | Source

Creating art and crafts with pressed flowers is fun. The traditional method of pressing flowers with heavy books or a flower press takes so long that children may lose interest in the process, however. Pressing or drying flowers in a microwave solves this problem.

How to Press Flowers in a Microwave

Nature Crafts

Nature sculptures, 3D pictures or room decorations can be created with natural materials like cones, twigs, branches, nuts, seeds, feathers, sea shells and pressed flowers and leaves. Fibrous plant materials can be woven into shapes. Jewelry can also be made from collections of natural objects. Pre-made containers like flower containers and pots or natural objects such as stones or wood can be decorated with flat or 3D nature illustrations. Natural dyes can be created from some plants, which can be used to colour fabrics and other items.

Nature-themed crafts are also fun, even when synthetic materials are used instead of natural ones. Paper sculptures of plants and animals can be enjoyable to make. For more expensive sculptures, artificial clays that are either air dried or oven baked can be bought in arts and crafts stores and sometimes in toy stores. Dough sculptures can also be made.

How to Make a Pine Cone Bird Feeder - A Craft for Kids

Try to use the most natural peanut butter possible in a pine cone bird feeder and avoid additives.

Taking Nature Photos and Videos

Even cheaper digital cameras take good photographs today. The cameras usually have the ability to record video as well. Children can print the photos and add them to their nature journal or other creative work. Photos and videos can also be shared with friends and relations.

Free or inexpensive digital imaging and video editing programs are available and are fun to use on a computer. They enable a child to do basic editing such as improving the sharpness and exposure of a photo. They also enable a child to create art from a photo and allow the child's imagination and creativity to roam free.

Pond life is always interesting to observe.
Pond life is always interesting to observe. | Source

Creative Writing

Inspired by their nature observations, children might enjoy writing stories or poems with nature themes. Some children might like to create other items, such as a nature-themed board game or card game for friends to play or a nature newspaper for people to read.

A nature newspaper could contain news, observations, photos and opinions. It could also include nature puzzles for readers to solve. There are free crossword creators on the Internet which let children print their puzzles after creating them.

Students could use scissors and glue to create their newspaper on paper filed in a binder or in a preformed notebook. Alternatively, they could use a computer word processor or desktop publishing program to produce the newspaper. Copies of the finished paper could be distributed to family, friends and neighbours.

Studying nature in a new environment and learning a new skill such as kayaking can be fascinating, as long as safety precautions are taken.
Studying nature in a new environment and learning a new skill such as kayaking can be fascinating, as long as safety precautions are taken. | Source

Places to Visit for Making Nature Observations

Home or public gardens or parks are great places to make nature observations. Hiking in the mountains with the family can take a child to new environments, Local zoos, museums and agricultural fairs could also be visited to make observations. Areas with water can be especially interesting. Lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, the sea shore and the ocean can all be very interesting places to explore. A family vacation offers the chance for brand new nature discoveries.

At home, bird feeders are great for observing bird behaviour. Even family pets can be carefully observed and their behaviours in specific situations recorded and then researched. If there is no garden at home, the growth of plants in containers and the activities of any visiting insects could be observed.

Gardens with lots of flowers are great places to see insects such as butterflies.
Gardens with lots of flowers are great places to see insects such as butterflies. | Source

Safety Tips for Exploring Nature

Children and adults should follow a few safety precautions for themselves and the environment when they are exploring nature.

  • Children should always wash their hands after handling soil, plants and animals.
  • Children and their parents should recognize and avoid poisonous or stinging plants or dangerous animals.
  • Appropriate clothing and items such as sunscreen and/or some other form of sun protection are necessary when exploring nature.
  • Some places may be unsafe for children to explore on their own.
  • Children should be told that animals need to be treated gently and returned to their habitat unharmed after they’ve been observed.
  • Children shouldn't pick plants if there are only a few specimens in the area.
  • They should also make sure that they don't damage animal and plant habitats.

If these precautions are followed, exploring nature can be a wonderful activity for the whole family. It's both enjoyable and educational. It can also be the stimulus for other very engrossing activities.

© 2011 Linda Crampton

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Comments 28 comments

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Summer is all about being outside, so these ideas are perfect! I enjoyed doing many of these things in my childhood during holidays. Great Hub!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi AliciaC, some great ideas here, my grandaughter loves playing with our magnifying glass indoors, I never thought of taking it outside! many thanks and voted up!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Simone. I enjoyed many of these activities in my childhood too, and some of them I still do! Thanks for the comment.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Movie Master. Nature really does look different when it's magnified and details can be seen that are normally missed! Thank you very much for the vote.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi AliciaC, these outdoor ideas are all great things for kids to do in the summer time !


4youreyes 5 years ago

AliciaC,

What a great hub, kids today spend to much time inside, I grew up in the country and still live in the country. Mother nature provides us with so many fun things to, all we have to do is let are imagination go.

Have A Good Evening !


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Wonderful Hub AliciaC, lots of Fun things to do. It's so good when children can be Creative... use their Minds and Imagination. Who knows what great Talents can come from old fashion Summer Fun!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Alicia-wonderful focus on one area and the many ways to capture that. Great job-I enjoyed it.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, kashmir56. Thank you for the visit. Summer is a great time to be outside and explore nature!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, 4youreyes! I'd love to live in the country like you do, close to nature. However, I'm quite happy where I do live, at the edge of a city, because there are large natural areas within walking distance from my house.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, b. Malin. I agree with you, I think it's great when children are having fun and using their imagination at the same time.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Denise. Thank you very much for your comment!


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

Good ideas here. I especially like the magnifying glass idea. Maybe when my daughters are older ... Right now, my two-year-old screams and runs away whenever she sees anything resembling a bug. I don't know where she learned that. I only react that way when I see a spider! ;-)


Hiskimann profile image

Hiskimann 5 years ago from Texas & Worldwide

Good ideas! We love to have outdoor adventures! My sons have ranged in their interests from lizards, spiders, butterflies and their cocoons, and then our latest obsession, birds. These are not far from our front door, either;-)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, workingmomwm. Thank you for your visit and comment. Hopefully your daughter will eventually discover that she likes insects!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

It sounds like your sons are very interested in nature, Hiskimann! Thank you for the comment.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

I love getting my kids out into nature. We go on nature walks and hunt for different types of plants and animals. They love to catch frogs and try to catch butterflies. Great hub.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for your comment, cardelean. I've taught both elementary and high school students, and they've all enjoyed exploring nature. I enjoy it too!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Nice information from you. I love all activities above. Thanks for writing this and share with us. We have good option for our child. Rated up!

Prasetio


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Prasetio! I'm glad that you found the information useful.


Mrs. Menagerie profile image

Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

Really great ideas here, just my kind of thing!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Mrs. Menagerie. Thank you for the visit and comment!


daisyjae profile image

daisyjae 5 years ago from Canada

I love the idea of using natural stuff to make art projects. You can go out for a little hike and collect materials and bring them home to make something with. My daycare kids will love it! Thanks for the tips.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, daisyjae. I think this would be a fun activity for young children! Thank you for the comment.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I used this idea when I was still teaching science in middle school...the kids loved it....great hub with great ideas.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment, Bill. It's fun to explore nature with children!


Sagi 16 months ago

Thank you for sharing my photos green frog activity for children. I am delighted.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 16 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for providing the photo! The photo and the frog are beautiful.

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    Linda Crampton (AliciaC)1,250 Followers
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    Linda Crampton has a honours degree in biology. She has taught high school biology, chemistry and other science subjects for many years.



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