It’s about this time in the New Year that we frantically start to plan our resolutions. With the whole year ahead of us, anything is possible! It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to be a better you. You could work out every day, eat less chocolate, drink less wine, commit to not eating another crisp for 365 days (already sounding very off-putting). I don’t know about you but I make countless resolutions and never stick to them because life gets in the way! It’s a terrible excuse but with a mountain of jobs to do, the simple pleasure of a packet of crisps is far too tempting.
However, fear not. I have one resolution for you and your family that is achievable, fun and will benefit your kids (so really, there’s no excuse). Drum roll please….
Engage your kids with nature! Hooray!!
It may not immediately sound fun and you may think it’ll take a lot of work, but really all you need are a few thought-out indoor and outdoor activities that’ll get your little ones excited about nature. It actually is quite important too, not only for their development (check out my previous blog for more on this!) but also because your children are the future guardians of our planet. But don’t worry, I’ve done all the work for you (hooray!). I’ve drawn up a list of some great activities to do with your wild ones.
1.KC Edventure’s Scavenger Hunt!
Scavenger hunts are a great way to make a walk outside entertaining and fun for your kids. And the best part? It’s an independent activity for them, so you can enjoy a peaceful walk whilst your children run around looking for a leaf. For older children, this is a good way for them to practise their reading but for little ones too young to read, you can just use picture-based hunts. You don’t even need to invent them yourself – KC Edventures is a brilliant website with over 50 scavenger hunts categorised by month! It couldn’t be easier.
2.Spot the shapes in Nature
Whilst on a nature walk, a good game to play is spotting the shapes in nature. You might see a circular swirl in a tree trunk, then try and spot as many swirls as you can – in leaves, on the ground, in a cloud, look as hard as you can! When you can’t find anymore, just pick a new shape and keep going. This activity is a good one because you can keep it going for as long as you need.
What you need:
- A net
- Plastic tray/box filled with water (to collect the animals)
This activity does require parental supervision (we don’t want the kids falling into a pond). Take your nets and trays to a pond, or a stream, and fill the plastic tray with water. Then let the kids gently dig around with their nets and scoop out some animals. Make sure you quickly tip the animals into the tray, so as not to harm them. Once in the tray, you can have a good look and identify which creatures you found! It’s a great way to teach kids that each habitat has its own collection of animals; there are many more animals in the world than those we see on land. When you’re finished, gently tip all the animals back into the water.
It’s as easy as it sounds! Like I Spy, but with a little bit of healthy competition thrown in. If you are on a nature walk, or in a park, dream up a list of animals you would expect to find. Squirrels, earth worms, woodlice – anything you like! Then give your kinds a set amount of time to find as many as they can. The one who finds the most, wins!
Here I am, searching for some minibeasts…
1.Craftulate’s Rainy Day Paper Web
If you’re not up to braving the winter chills, Craftulate‘s Paper Web is a really fun indoor activity for your kids!
What you need:
- Paper ribbons
Tape the paper ribbons at different heights down a corridor, creating a web of paper for your child to climb through (like a spy) or tear through!
2.Make an indoor tent!
You don’t need anything specific for this, just a little imagination. Maybe get a bedsheet or a table cloth and drape it over two chairs, or hang it over a tall lamp shade and pin the edges apart to create a tepee. Then gather all the pillows, blankets and fairy lights you can find and let your imagination run wild! The kids will love to create their own hideaway space. You could even take it one step further and buy some camping food treats to eat inside, like marshmallows!
Try re-creating this masterpiece from The Holiday
3.Dirt and Booger’s Colour Shape River
What you need:
- Coloured paper
The Colour Shape River is cheap, quick and easy to set up! Cut out different paper shapes and tape them to the floor. Your child has to get across the ‘river’ by standing on a certain colour, or shape – each time they cross, just change the colour and shape! For example, you could start by only using blue shapes, then to get back across the river use only circles (you get the picture). Let their imagination run wild on this one – the floor could be made of lava, they could be being chased by a monster, or there could be a toy on the other side of the river who needs saving!
I hope you enjoy these activities and have fun engaging your little ones with nature – Happy New Year!