Kids Spring Activities for Sensory Outdoor Learning
As a parent, you’ve probably heard that playing outside is beneficial for kids. Fresh air and sunshine make us all feel good. What better way to celebrate the incoming warm weather than kids spring activities? Nature is the perfect space for young children to start strengthening their seven senses (yes, that's right, seven!) But some parents, especially new ones, may wonder: “What exactly do we do once we are outdoors?” Here are a few of our favourite kids spring activities (suitable for all ages!). Perfect to begin learning and having fun in nature. (Looking for outdoor activites for snowy days or rainy days? We've got you covered too!)
Ribbon Hand Kites
These beautiful toys are easy to make and spark so much joy! Simply tie a few colourful ribbons around a cardboard, wooden or mason jar ring and set your childfree. Gross motor skills like running and jumping are engaged, as well as the vestibular sense while a child spins in delight watching the ribbons glide through the air. Wearing flexible, lightweight footwear like Jan & Jul’s Knit Shoes are perfect, as the soft soles help children feel the ground beneath them and keep their balance. Young babies love to watch ribbons blowing in the breeze when hung from a low tree branch, and you can try hiding them under leaves or dirt for your smallest family member to uncover and find.
Even if mud play makes you nervous, with the right gear and attitude it can be a wonderful way for kids to build creativity and imagination. Bring a few kitchen items outside to make mud pies, or construction vehicles to dig in the dirt. Puddle-Dry Playsuits are a must have for our kids who love to roll in the mud, and it makes cleanup so easy! Research shows that early exposure to mud and dirt helps strengthen the immune system, making mud play beneficial even for babies. Feeling, smelling or tasting (if you feel it’s safe!) mud helps young brains process and integrate sensory input, a lifelong essential skill. Tip: bring a bag along for muddy gear plus a towel for cleanup!
Nature Art Collage
A favorite activity for building focus and fine motor skills is making – or taking apart! – a nature collage. First, tightly wrap some yarn around a small cardboard box in a grid-like pattern. Then, collect found objects from nature (sticks, leaves, dead flowers, pinecones, etc). Show your child how to weave the nature items under and between the strings to create their own masterpiece. For babies and toddlers, make the collage yourself and let them “undo”, pluck apart, and explore the natural objects that way. Don’t forget a sun hat or sunglasses to protect your kiddo from the sun while they work on their nature collage!
Something to keep in mind with these kids spring activities is that little ones often value the process of an activity over the end product. Slow down and take the time to look at what they are curious about. Learning and spending time in nature doesn’t always have to be about “doing” something, but simply being. When you give these activities a whirl, try letting go of whatever expectations you may have and follow the lead of your baby or toddler. Most importantly, have fun and make connections as a family! Happy Spring!
Nature program leader for children, photographer, and Mama to a 4 year old and new baby