Nature Activities for Preschoolers


Preface: This blog was doomed to be a little bit of everything. It is my name, after all. Sure, it should probably find a niche and cover just one teeny tiny aspect of life. But I’ve tried that, and before long, my interests change a bit and I get passionate about something new and the blog falls by the wayside. So I’m going to roll with the fact that my life is a little bit of writing, a little bit of photography, a little bit of central Texas news, and a whole lotta momming. And I’m not writing it to become the biggest, baddest, most-money-making-est blogger out there. I’m writing it to keep it active and because hitting those little letters on my laptop brings me joy.

And today, my mind is on nature. The weather is finally changing in central Texas and it’s beautiful outside. I want my children to live that old-fashioned life, spending hours a day outdoors. But there’s one huge problem: they don’t want to go outside. I mean, sure, maybe for a few minutes, for a quick bounce on the trampoline. More than that though? Not feeling it. I don’t blame them, honestly. Indoors is comfortable, predictable, and controlled. My oldest is highly sensitive and not one to enjoy getting muddy, being startled by a dog, or having her hair blown into her face. Plus, most of her toys and entertainment are located indoors. So when I say with all the enthusiasm of a nature-loving momma, “Let’s go outside!” I’m likely to get a blank stare and a “no thanks” shrug in response. Thus, I have to lure them. I have to instill a love for nature in them through fun, joyful activities. Here’s a few currently on my radar:

Nature Walk Ideas

  1. Tree hunt around the block, use a guide or an app like LeafSnap or PictureThis to identify them.
    1. Tally the number of each type of tree you find.
    2. Make tree bark rubbings with paper and a crayon.
  2. Go bird spotting: use a guide or app like iNaturalist to identify them. Bring binoculars or make play ones with toilet paper rolls.
    1. Tally the types of birds you find.
    2. Try to find a nest.
    3. Make up a story about one of the birds you see. Read a story about a bird when you get home (The Nest That Wren Built is our latest from the library).
  3. Go on a sound hunt—try to identify at least 5 sounds you hear on your walk.
  4. Go on a smell hunt—sniff various plants and find your favorite. Follow your nose to find what smells good/bad.
  5. Throw rocks in water. Honestly, this is about 95% of what we do outdoors. Toddler addiction right there.
  6. Look for signs of the season. It’s October, so head out and find leaves changing color, acorns falling, birds migrating, etc.
  7. Take dolls or animals for a walk. Bring a favorite lovey along. If it’s an animal, all the better, find a habitat that he/she might like.
  8. Make Play-Doh imprints. Bring along a jar of Play-Doh and press it against a tree, compare the imprint to the next tree or item you find.
  9. Go on a rock hunt: find rocks to paint. After they’re painted, return them or hide them around your block.
  10. Color scavenger hunt: draw a box in each color of the rainbow on a brown paper bag (add black, brown, and white too). Find items in each color and collect them in the bag. Check off each box as you go.
  11. Look for signs of animals: find tracks or scat on a trail. Look for signs of natural animal paths.
  12. Suburbs style house hunt: find the most colorful house on the block, the biggest, the smallest, the most decorated, etc.
  13. Go on a bug hunt—look under rocks and logs to find bugs.
  14. Find a natural obstacle course on a hiking trail. A fallen lock or series of large rocks are great for this. Try balancing, hopping, crawling, etc.
  15. Gathering hike: gather natural items like sticks, leaves, rocks, flowers, etc. for crafts at home.

Nature Craft Ideas

  1. Make a sun-catcher using flat/pressed natural items on sticky contact paper.
  2. Use natural paintbrushes like dandelions, twigs, leaves, etc. to paint a picture.
  3. Make a nature mobile: hang leaves, flowers and acorns from a stick using yarn.
  4. Leave people: draw funny faces on leaves, googly eyes optional.
  5. Make leaf rubbings using a crayon. Compare different types of leaves.
  6. Draw a tree on paper and “leaf” it with found items (pieces of grass, leaves, flowers, etc.)
  7. Make a sticky nature bracelet using contact paper or duct tape and gather things on it.
  8. Make a paper crown and decorate it with found items.
  9. Make fairies using sticks for bodies and leaves for wings. Paint rock houses for them.
  10. Make a leaf necklace by “sewing” leaves onto pipe cleaners (just stick them right on).
  11. Press flowers and use them to decorate greeting cards or bookmarks.

Which idea is your favorite? What was the last thing you did in nature? I’d love more ideas!