I post VERY frequently about our time enjoyed outdoors, as a family. Of course, this involves various methods of outdoor fun for kids, in order to keep our littles thoroughly enjoying their time outside, and not always feeling ‘dragged along’ for the ride!
I wanted to pop up a quick blog post about our favourite ways to keep the kids entertained while out and about, in the hopes that you too can include some of these, if you don’t already!
I know that outdoor watercoloring is always popular when we post on the gram, and of course that’s going to feature here too!
Our Favourite Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained Outdoors
Really Lauren?! Does this need to be here?
YES! One of the most sure ways to keep your children’s interest, attention and imagination while you’re out on walks, is to TALK TO THEM.
If you can talk to them about what they’re seeing, what you can see, the seasonal changes, the butterfly fluttering past, the bees collecting pollen, the hogweed towering overhead and the birds singing… If you can take their focus to what is occurring around them and make it a thing to be beholden, THIS is one of the biggest ways to keep a child interested while you’re out!
The natural world is jam packed with constantly changing, magical processes, waiting for new generations to notice and learn.
- Plant/Tree/Leaf/Insect/Flower/Berry ID’ing
Getting your children an easy check list (seasonally appropriate) with a pen/pencil to take out with you on your walk, is a quick, easy and educational way to get them excited, and very much present when you’re outdoors.
There are so many FREE resources to help with ID’ing bits and bobs out in nature. Our favourite place to go for free printables for ID’ing is The Woodland Trust Website, though they have recently taken away their nature detectives pages, which were amazing! I’ll link the ID pages I can find.
– Woodland Trust Tree Identification Sheets (Leaf, Twig, Blossom & Catkin, Fruit, Nuts & Seeds)
- Outdoor Drawing/ Watercolouring
It’s not something that most people think of as possible (I used to be one of them before the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum set us on the path of nature journalling), but popping a sketch book, pencils and a watercolour pallet in your rucksack is SO easy, and it up there as one of the best ways to keep your children excited while they’re out!
Not only does this entertain them, it also can really help them to focus on their surroundings!
And what’s even better? If you’re watercoloring, a rainy day is even MORE FUN!
The products we use and love are (contains aff links):
4. Outdoor Clay Creations
So, this links back to a post we did last autumn, and really, autumn is a WONDERFUL time to do clay creations, due to all of the natural debris you can find to add to your creations!
Though, of course you can take clay out with you at ANY time of year!
If your children love to play play dough indoors, the chances are you will get tons of play with the clay outdoors!
Your children can make characters, patterns, tree wardens, candle holders and SO much more. The sky is the limit.
We buy a giant bag of air dry clay, and package it in something to keep it damp while we walk, so that it doesn’t dry out too much before you get to play!
5. Mindfulness Card Games
We were gifted a fantastic pack of cards from friends called ‘Go Find It’, and they are SO good for getting kids excited to find things when out and about. ‘Something smooth’ and ‘Something green’ are amongst the prompts included in this little pack of tricks!
6. Playing Card Games
Take your bog standard, playing cards out with you on a picnic, for an impromptu game of ‘go fish’.
7. Pond/River Dipping
Ahhh yes, that old one.
Do you remember the pure joy of sweeping a net in a figure 8 in the local pond/river, only to upturn it into your tray of water, and see the vast amount of water creatures wiggling around?!
I think for me, this is one of those hugely nostalgic activities to do with my children.
Of course, you want to make sure to teach them to be gentle and kind, and to always release them sharpish.
To add another level to this, get them to take photos to sketch and paint in their sketch books!
8. Getting WET AND MUDDY
Trust me when I say, if you can relax enough to allow your children to fully enjoy puddles, rivers, streams and mud, you will get HOURS of fun with them outdoors. The rainier the better!
You can find so many second hand waterproofs on eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
Make sure you’re prepared, get the waterproofs handy if it’s cold, bring a change of clothes and maybe a flask or 2 of hot chocolate and hot tea, and then relax and let them dive in!
Mud pies, splashing, sploshing, building dams, stone sploshing… The possibilities are endless when you prepare yourself!
The kids just won’t believe what they’re allowed to do!!
Then you get them home, throw them in a hot, bubbly bath, and are rewarded with content, sleepy babies! A perfick day for any time of year.
Side note: Pack a wet bag for the wet clothes if you’re a drive away from home.
9. Making Patterns & Pictures out of Natural Resources
Have you ever tried to make a mandala out of leaves and twigs? Or a reindeer out of beech seed pods and acorns?! If you haven’t then you’re missing out!
It’s another one of those ‘I can’t believe I’ve never thought to do that’ things, but collecting natural resources and then trying to make them into pictures is both simple and really enjoyable!
It can also be challenging for parents haha!
I love that this can be done year round too, with the different resources abundant at the time.
10. Pooh Sticks
An oldie but a goodie…
I’m not sure if this originates from Winnie the Pooh or not, but finding a couple of twigs laying on the floor, to drop into a running river, to see which wins, is one of the oldest tricks in the book! It’s forever a family favourite!
Try it with your children, and let me know who wins!
11. Cloud Identification
Is it Cirrus, Cumulus?! Don’t have a clue, then find an easy pointer photo via google!
Above is one I found from the Cloud Appreciation Society.
12. Outdoor Cooking
Cooking on a campfire instantly makes the outdoors more fun!
First things first, you want to make sure you’re adhering to all of the safety regulations, because what we don’t want to do is endanger our beautiful, natural spaces!
But a stew cooked in a dutch oven, on a campfire, followed by toasted marshmallows… wow… Autumn splendour.
13. Ice Play (Winter)
Following on from the water play, here is one for winter…
Let your children pick up the ice from a puddle! It’s fun to inspect, hold, drop, stamp on, melt… And there’s always the chance for a scientific explanation of solid, liquid, gas too!
14. Wax Rubbing
Collect some leaves or bark, and put them under a sheet of paper. Grab your wax crayons and rub them over the top, to see the beautiful patterns appear on your paper.
15. Natural Paintbrushes
Use flowers, twigs and leaves to paint with! Make sure to check they aren’t toxic beforehand. But then this is a wonderful activity for little ones! See what prints you can make!