This post is constantly updated.
Did you know this generation of children is the first ever that will spend more time playing inside than outside? I read that in an article several years ago and it has stuck with me. For years folks have been sounding the alarm about children spending too much time indoors. Although I didn't spend my entire childhood wandering through forests or wild meadows, I did spend a whole lot of time outside playing tag, climbing trees, wandering through empty lots, and looking under rocks for bugs. Helping kids to fall in love with nature is one of my passions. Since I started my blog, I've been documenting my own efforts to connect my kids with nature as well as collecting others' suggestions. It's a topic I have written about many times over the years, and one I plan to write about often in the future.
I created this page as a resource for parents and educators looking for ideas and inspiration about how to connect kids with the natural world. Below you will find links to most of the posts I have written about kids and nature, including:
- 30 ways to enjoy 30 minutes in nature with children
- How to use technology to connect your tech-loving teen or tween with nature
- 14 ways your family can participate in data collection for scientists in your own backyard
- Gifts to encourage a child's sense of wonder about nature
- 10 foolproof ways to entice your kids to play outside
Scroll to the end of the page for links to additional resources from various organizations.
Books, Games, and Tools for Wild Kids
Games that Teach Kids about the Natural World
I'm always on the lookout for books, games, toys, and tools that help my kids learn about and interact with nature. This post describes some of our family's favorite games that teach kids (and grown-ups!) about the natural world. Whether your kids are fans of memory, Pokemon, or Monopoly, you'll find something on this list for them!
Gifts that Encourage a Child's Sense of Wonder About Nature
Children are natural scientists and love to explore the world around them. But sometimes their enthusiasm for the natural world wanes as they grow up and become engaged in friendships, structured activities, and technology. Here are some gifts to encourage your child's sense of wonder about the natural world.
"What is wild? And where can you find it?" These are the first lines of the wonderfully illustrated picture book Finding Wild, a multi-sensory adventure into the idea of wild. I love this book for how it entices kids to find wild in every place, in the woods as well as on city streets. Check out this Q & A with author Megan Wagner Lloyd and then pick up a copy of her fantastic debut picture book from your local library or bookstore!
Everyday Wild: Simple Ways to Get Outside
30 Ways to Enjoy 30 Minutes in Nature with Your Kids
Here are some of my ideas for activities to enjoy being outside in nature with my kids. For example, take a neighborhood walk, have a backyard bug hunt (optional: use magnifying devices and temporary bug houses), or read about and identify different types of spider webs in the backyard and around the neighborhood. Find 27 more kid-approved ideas here.
13 Benefits of Spending Time Outside - Week One of the 30 x 30 Challenge
Just in case you need some extra motivation to get outside, I created the following list of some of the very well-documented benefits of being outside in nature. This post also details what we did each day of the first week of our very first 30 x 30 Nature Challenge.
How to Get Your Kids to Play Outside
Some weeks my kids practically live outside. But certain days they need a little nudge to go outside to play. Once I actually get them outside, mother nature usually takes care of the entertainment. Check out these 10 foolproof ways to entice your kids to go outside.
Make Time Every Day to Do the Things You Love
Do you wish you had more time to spend outside with your kids? Read about how and why I found time to be outside enjoying nature with my kids every day for 30 days during the Nature Challenge.
30 Minutes in Nature Every Day with My Kids: Week 1 of the 30 x 30 Challenge
This post details how we spent the first week of the second time we did the 30 x 30 Nature Challenge.
Kick It Up a Notch
Interested in taking your family's connection to nature to the next level? Check out these opportunities to participate in Citizen Science: a way for anyone of any age or ability level to participate in data collection for real science about the natural world. Whether you want to help save a species, provide data for real science, enlist experts to help you identify plants and animals, provide your child or students with a meaningful educational experience, or simply engage your tech-savvy child in the natural world, Citizen Science is for you!
From Tech-Lover to Nature-Lover: Using Technology to Connect Kids with Nature
Kids' overuse of screens and underexposure to nature seem to go hand-and-hand. But given the fact that technology is here to stay, and most likely will always sing its siren song to digital natives , I think it's best to harness that power to turn kids onto things I care about, like the natural world! Here are 8 ways to use technology to increase kids' interest in and engagement with the natural world. These suggestions are especially relevant for tweens and teens, who are pushed toward ever greater technology use by both school and peers.
Help Protect the Endangered City Forest: Plant a Tree!
Have you considered planting a tree in your yard? About 80 percent of U.S. trees in cities live on private property, so it's up to individual property owners not just the government to protect and promote the urban forest. I feel so good about our decision to add a tree to our city's forest by planting a tree in our backyard (with the help of an organization dedicated to increasing the number of trees in my metropolitan area). I consider it one of the best "green" things I have ever done.
Arts & Crafts
Eco-friendly and Budget-friendly Arts & Crafts Supplies
Nature is a fabulous source of free non-toxic art materials. This post includes ideas and resources for projects using natural materials.
DIY Fall Garland Made with Real Autumn Leaves
This favorite fall activity makes a lovely Thanksgiving decoration. It's also super kid-friendly.
- My Pinterest Boards: Kids and Nature and Nature Crafts
- My favorite books and other resources to encourage nature exploration.
- Activity Finder (National Wildlife Federation)
- Family Fun Zone: Outdoor Activities (National Wildlife Federation)
- Nature Rocks (part of the Children & Nature Network)
- Children, Nature and You: Online Resources
- Nature’s Lessons for Kindergarten Readiness and Nature Guide (PDF) (Children, Nature and You)
- Outdoor Kids Adventures (Texas Parks and Wildlife)
- Resource Guide Supplement to Last Child in the Woods (includes nature activities, books, and links)
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