10 Hands-On Nature Activities for Kids

by: Lindsay Hutton
Summer is a great time to get outside and learn more about the environment. From hunting bugs to making seashell magnets, these awesome hands-on activities are a great way for your child to get a little closer to nature.
Boy with magnifying glass observing butterfly
Bug Hunting
They fly, they buzz — they can even light up! It's no wonder most kids think bugs are cool. Take some time to observe the bugs in your backyard with your child, and get up close and personal with a magnifying glass. Talk to your child about what colors they are, how they protect themselves (do they sting?), and how they work together to build a home (an ant hill is a great example of an insect colony.)

Get the directions for Bug Hunting.

Close up of colorful rocks
Create Rock Art
Take your kids for on a rock-hunting adventure and gather rocks of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. When you get home, pull out the paints and let your kids go to town decorating them. Encourage them to be creative by painting funny faces or animals on them. When they are dry, store them in a box for safe keeping.

If you are looking for more rock art activities, try creating your own rock people using dried pasta and other craft supplies!

Get the directions for Rock Art.

Little girl holding bunch of daisies
Pressed Flower Place Mats
Keep summer alive all year by pressing your favorite flowers and turning them into place mats! Your child will get a kick out of seeing her favorite colorful blooms on the dinner table all year long.

Get the directions for Pressed Flower Place Mats.

Little girl holding tiny yellow wildflower
Make a Nature Bracelet
All you need for this simple craft is tape! Wrap a piece of masking tape around your child's wrist sticky side up, and head out for a nature walk. As you explore, have your child find different items to attach to the tape to make a bracelet. Different flowers, leaves, and even grass all make great additions!

Get the directions for Nature Bracelet.

Family of four walking on beach
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Work with your child to create a list of natural objects you can find outside during the summertime (such as a bird feather, wildflowers, and a green leaf.) After you make your list, grab a paper bag and set out to find each item. You can even turn it into a game for multiple children — the first one to find every item wins!

Get the directions for Nature Scavenger Hunt.

Succulent plants in pots
Build a Terrarium
A terrarium is a completely self-supporting ecosystem. Build your own and watch it come to life! You'll need a glass container, some plants, and a few easy-to-find supplies from your local hardware store to get started. Your kids will love watching their terrarium thrive throughout the summer.

Get the directions for DIY Terrarium.

Happy family bird watching in park
Make a Bird Feeder
If you want to get a close look at the birds in your yard, a DIY tree feeder will help attract them. Simply string popcorn, berries, raisins, fruit, and anything else you think birds might like to eat on a sturdy piece of string. Loop your string around a tree in your yard (evergreens work well, since the needles will easily hold the string in place), and watch as birds flock to your homemade feeding station!

Get the directions for Homemade Tree Feeder.

Little boy standing in field of poppies and wildflowers
Nature Colors
Take a walk with your child and gather a variety of colorful items that can be found in nature (such as flowers, plants, leaves, weeds, etc.) The more colors you can find, the better!

When you return home, spread out your findings and have your child draw a picture of each item on a piece of paper using crayons that match the color of each. This simple activity is a great way for your child to learn his colors, and to see how colorful nature can be!

Get the directions for Nature Colors.

Pile of seashells on sand
Magnetic Seashells
Turn your seashells into magnets to hang on your fridge! Have your child decorate her seashell however she wants — she can paint it, adorn it with silk or dried flowers, or even roll it in glitter! Afterwards, attach a magnetic strip to the back with a glue gun, and use your new magnets to display your favorite family pictures from the summer.

Get the directions for Magnetic Seashells.