The nature activities below will get you and your child started on the path to outdoor exploration. And they'll pry you both away from commitments, homework, and of course, the television long enough to reconnect with the great outdoors.
Nature Activities for Preteens
Conduct a Scavenger HuntScavenger hunts aren't just for little kids. Tweens and teens enjoy them too, and an outdoor scavenger hunt is a fun way to explore and learn about all the wonderful things that surround you.
For the hunt, compile a list of items you'd find in your own backyard, such as:
- A bird's feather
- A pinecone
- A ladybug
- A flat rock
- Leaves of different shapes and colors
- A food source for insects, birds, or other critters
- A water source for insects, birds or other critters
- Something edible, such as berries, veggies, or herbs
- A habitat for either an insect, reptile or bird
You and your tween can work together to find the objects, or divide a group of children up into tweens and give the a set time, say 20 minutes, to find all of the objects on your list. When the scavenger hunt is over, discuss your findings while enjoying a small snack and a glass of home-made lemonaid.
Press Leaves or FlowersPressing leaves is a fun and easy project, and once the leaves or flowers are pressed your child can use them to decorate bookmarks, make personalized greeting cards, or display them in a glass frame.
To press leaves, you and your tween will need to scavenge for flat flowers or leaves, making sure they aren't wet. Once you have your items, find the thickest, heaviest book in your home. Open the book to the middle, and lay a piece of newspaper down in between the pages. Arrange your leaves and flowers, and cover with another layer of newspaper. Close the book, and pile a few additional heavy books on top. Wait a few days, and then check to see your flattened flowers and leaves.
Build a Toad a HomeFun nature activities can also be beneficial to the critters who live around us. Have your tween make a Toad Condo for your little amphibian friends. All you need is a small terra-cotta pot, some acrylic paint to decorate and a medium-sized rock. Have your tween personalize the condo with the acrylic paint. Once the paint is dry, place the Toad Condo in your yard upside down, raising a side of the pot about two inches with the rock.
Plant an Herb GardenThe best nature activities are not only fun for children, but teach them something that they'll remember and use for their entire lives. Planting an herb garden is a wonderful way to introduce your child to nature, and the hobby of gardening. Herbs are easy to grow, and are very often tolerant of drought and neglect. They are also very easy to grow in containers.
For this project you'll need an outdoor pot or container with drainage holes, potting soil, and several herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley and lavender. Have your child plant the herbs in the container or pot. Find recipes that you can make together to use the herbs, once they're ready to harvest.