Kid-Friendly Nature Activities: Take a Child Outside Week

take a child outsideThe week of September 24-30 is international “Take a Child Outside Week.” The goal of this week is to get children and their families out in nature, experiencing and studying what it has to offer. According to the University of Colorado, childhood play in nature is associated with recycling, buying green products and choosing nature areas for recreation in adulthood (Come Alive Outside). This awareness week is not just about being outdoors, but focusing on the natural world. Look closely at the trees, plants and wildlife around you!

Locations

Colorado Springs is home to some of the best trails and nature parks in the state. Check out our Colorado Springs Trails Guide for some ideas on where you can experience nature!

You don’t have to leave your backyard to “Take a Child Outside” though. Your own lawn hosts a plethora of plant life, insects, and maybe even wildlife.

Activity Ideas

Here are some ideas to help you get started. Remember, the goal is to experience and study nature, not just be in it. For other ideas, visit TakeaChildOutside.org

Trees and Leaves

Best age range: all ages, especially upper elementary and older
Location: any area with trees
Best time: day
Season: all
Special materials: tree identification books; bags for collecting leaves; camera; journal

Trees in Nature

 

What to do: Walk outside! How many trees do you see? Are they all the same? What is different about them? Compare the leaves, bark, flowers, buds — everything you notice. Collect the different leaves you find or take pictures. Press the leaves in a book or journal. Use a field guide to identify the trees. Can you identify them by leaves, bark and twigs? If you having trouble identifying the trees, take some leaves to a local nature center, park, arboretum or natural science museum.

Sounds of the Night

Best age range: all ages
Location: backyard or nearby park, away from as many human noises as possible.
Best time: nightfall
Season: all
Special materials: blanket, tape recorder (optional)

camping

What to do: Every season brings new night sounds—owls in the winter, frogs in the spring, tree crickets in the summer and grasshoppers in the fall. Find a quiet outdoor space and visit it at nightfall. Sit on a blanket and listen for a few minutes. How many different sounds did you hear? Compare the sounds with what you hear during the day or during your last visit. Record the sounds.

Capturing Tracks

Best age range: 3 and up
Location: backyard, natural area with muddy areas such as dirt roads or stream banks
Best time: any
Season: any
Special materials: Plaster of Paris, water, cup, stirring stick

animal tracks

What to do: Find an animal track. Mix plaster according to directions (so that it is about the consistency of pancake batter). Fill track with plaster. Let dry for about 30 minutes or until the plaster is hard. Gently lift the cast out of the track. Gently wash or brush off to clean. How many toes does the track have? Can you see claws? How big is the track? Can you guess what made it? Can you tell what the animal was doing when it made the track?

Painting with Sticks

Best age range: 3 and up
Location: anywhere
Best time: any
Season: any
Special materials: variety of small sticks; paint; paper; paintbrushes

child painting

What to do: Collect a variety of sticks from outside. This is a great excuse for a nature hike. Choose thick and thin ones, straight and curved ones and bumpy ones. Lay out the paints, sticks and paper beforehand. After experimenting painting with the sticks, add some paintbrushes. Paint on the sticks themselves.

Snowflake Study

Best age range: all ages
Location: anywhere
Best time: day
Season: winter
Special materials: snowflakes, sheet of black paper, magnifying lens

snowflake

What to do: Catch some snowflakes on a sheet of black paper. Study them under the magnifying glass. How are they alike? How are they different?

 

Timberline Landscaping supports families spending time together outside. We love nature and the wellness it can bring to our community, especially for children. Get outside and be inspired!