01 Mar Get Out There: Ideas for Spring Outdoor Activities
Spring is nearly upon us, and many adults and children are ready to burst through the doors and spend time outside. Nature becomes incredibly active this time of year, offering infinite possibilities for fun and learning. You and your kids can play together, seizing spring outdoor activities that perfectly fit the season. Possibilities range from simple to highly engaging, from spectator to hands-on. Let this list get you started. Get out there and enjoy these fun spring activities.
Go For a Rainy Day Hike
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! Just make sure the temperature is warm enough, and your gear keeps you dry enough, that getting sick or frost-bitten isn’t a concern. You’ll also want to be comfortable enough to enjoy yourselves. You and your kids might just be amazed at the animal activity during a rain shower. They may learn to appreciate rain in a whole new way. Be sure to head for shelter if you see lightning, or if high winds are predicted.
Dye Flowers Different Colors
Some outdoor activities can move inside if the weather won’t cooperate. Flowers represent springtime perhaps more than anything else. You can easily dye white or light-colored flowers. Mums or carnations work best. You simply need food coloring, store-bought or homemade. Approach it as an art project or a science project — or both. Let kids choose their favorite colors and watch as, over time, the flowers take on the color of choice. This is a great way to help kids understand how plants draw water and nutrients from the ground. As a bonus, it brightens up your home. Here is a tutorial on how to dye flowers, from Dream a Little Bigger.
Fly a Kite
There is no better time than spring to fly a kite! If you make your own, you’ll have a great project for a cold or stormy day. Then, when the sky clears, you’ll be ready to fly. This video shows how how to make a simple kite from construction paper. The website My Best Kite offers more extensive information on making all different kinds of kites, many from things you probably have around the house. Choose an option most suited to your kids’ ages and interests.
Roll a Log
Lots of critters live under logs, especially in the cool, damp springtime. Hike into a local woods and look for fallen trees or other old logs. If you venture into a park or nature center, be sure to check first whether it’s okay to venture off-trail and disrupt nature! Find a log and, together, roll it aside gently. Remember that wildlife is likely living underneath, so treat it with respect. Check out what’s there and talk about it. If your kids are inclined, they might take photos or draw pictures of their findings. Depending on where you live you may see worms, insects, salamanders, eggs, or snakes. Discuss in advance how you shouldn’t touch something you can’t identify. For example, if you don’t know whether a particular insect bites, leave it alone. Also research whether any venomous snakes live in your area and what to do if you see one. In general, they will flee from a person, as long don’t threaten them. You and your kids can learn a lot about your local flora and fauna with this adventurous activity.
Make a Bird Feeder
Talk about spring activities — birds are busy migrating, building nests, and finding mates. They’ll need energy for all of that work. Notice what kinds of birds you see in your area. If possible, watch to learn what they eat. Even these activities can be fun and educational for kids. To get more hands-on, create a DIY bird feeder. Let your kids devise their own design, or find an age-appropriate one online. The blog Happy Hooligans offers 32 designs for easy homemade bird feeders.
Birds aren’t the only animals on the move. Observing animals is among most kids’ favorite outdoor activities. Find muddy or sandy places to hunt for animal tracks. Try to figure out what animal made them. Do you think the animal was running or walking? Which way was it headed? Was there just one animal or a group of them? Ask your kids to pretend to walk like the animal to see if they can make prints in the same pattern. If you want, record your findings to study later. My Kids’ Adventures tells how to make plaster casts of tracks.
Start a Compost Bin
Composting is easy and many kids find it fun and interesting. Composting works all year round, but with the warming air, materials tend to break down faster. You can start by working as a family to build your compost bin, or simply buy one. The internet abounds with instructions on how to make them. This one from Treehugger offers four different types of DIY compost bins you can make in one day. Explain to kids why organic materials break down over time. Tell them about the different kinds of organisms that decompose the compost. Reactions will likely range from “cool!” to “gross!” Going forward, whenever your family has appropriate food waste, set it aside for composting. Give kids the responsibility for taking it out to the bin and stirring it. Some kids might even enjoy taking photos or drawing pictures to chart the changes from day to day.
Plant a Garden (Or Join a Community Garden)
Gardening takes commitment, but this activity can provide enjoyment well beyond spring. Learn what grows well in your area. For a fun science experiment before you start, pH test your soil. Here are some ideas on how to study soil with kids. If you’re also composting (above), you’ll be able to add your own compost to the soil before long! Plant seeds for whatever you decide on, whether it’s flowers or vegetables. Divide up responsibilities among family members for how you will take care of the garden. If you don’t have space for a garden at home, explore community garden options near you. The American Community Garden Association can help you find one.
Walk Your Dog
If you live in a suburban neighborhood, it’s easy to just let your dog run around the yard, especially if it’s cold or snowy outside. Spring is a great time to start taking walks. Walking with your dog helps teach kids responsibility, get exercise, and meet your neighbors. If you don’t live in a walkable area, look for local dog parks. You and your kids will reap many of the same benefits. Don’t have a dog but still want to share some love with canine companions? Check with a local shelter to see if they need volunteer dog walkers. Some may restrict the age of volunteers, but it’s worth a look. You’ll model the value of giving back to the community and caring for animals.
However you choose to celebrate spring, enjoy it. Spring brings new promise and plans for summer. Find spring activities that remind you of all the fun and excitement ahead.
PHOTO: DamDa / CC0 Public Domain