Nature Play Ideas

Nature Play Ideas 2

By Bryony Sumner

When we were packing up our house to set off on our camping adventure around Australia one of the things that shocked me the most was how many toys we owned! Our boys were only aged 1 and 2 at the time – so in just 2 short years we had gathered enough playthings to start a sub-branch of Toys-R-Us! And the ironic thing was that the boys were always at their happiest when playing in the garden, finding the longest stick, or pulling all the dishes out of the drawers for a pretend picnic.

Nature Play Ideas 4I’m sure that we’re not unique in this – children thrive when using their imagination for play and it has been proven that the benefits of being outdoors go way beyond simply the goodness of fresh air. Playing in nature has shown benefits in all stages of childhood – from physical to social, emotional and cognitive development – and getting back out into the open was one of the top reasons for us deciding to hit the road.

As a family of four living full time in our bus and travelling Australia, storage is a big issue for us. We sometimes struggle to squeeze in the bare essentials – so when it comes to packing toys we have to be very selective. With this in mind we decided to pack as few as possible – we’ve got some Lego, cars and games for rainy days – but on a whole we depend on Mother Nature to provide our playthings. Here are some ideas that we use regularly that are great for camping and outdoor holidays – no extra packing required and the kids love them!

 

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Nature Play Ideas 14

Nature Play Ideas 19This is a great game that can be tailored to suit all ages. If you have a pen and paper and your kids can read and write you can give them a written list to search with. As our boys are young we do this item by item – they go and search for one thing and when they bring it to us we give them the next challenge. This game works for all locations too – if we’re at the beach I get them to search for shells (you can do the biggest or smallest shell, the strangest looking shell, a round shell, a long shell etc) seaweed, coral, cuttlefish or sticks. If we’re in a forest they search for leaves, flowers, pine cones or nuts.

You can add an element of learning to the game by getting the kids to search for something beginning with a certain letter, or something of a certain colour, or collecting 3 of an item. You can add a time limit for older kids to increase the excitement – or if there are more kids you can make teams.

 

Build a Make Believe Camp

This is a favourite with the boys – they search for sticks to make a campfire, rocks to go around the outside, large leaves to make shelter, then they collect different pretend foods to cook on the fire. Their imaginations run wild and it keeps them busy for ages!

Nature Play Ideas 9

 

Wild Art

Nature Play Ideas 15

Getting creative with nature provides so many opportunities for crafty play – we have made pictures with the things we have found on bushwalks, used leaves to do different painting styles and made daisy chains and hats to wear from our treasures.

 

Nature Play Ideas 1Rock Lego!

Rocks are an absolute delight to all our family – we love fossicking and finding different minerals and stones – and hubby even did a lapidary course so he knows how to polish them. When we are at a pebbly beach or at the river we always search for interesting stones – we make towers with them or build mini houses, and hubby has always been a fan of friendship stacks.

 

Nature Play Ideas 16

Pirate Play

Nature Play Ideas 12

If we’re at the beach or at a playground where there is a sandpit we turn into pirates for the day! I draw a basic treasure map – and X marks the spot of some hidden treasure. We collect treasure first (big shells, driftwood etc), pretend it came from a pirate ship then I make the boys turn around (no peeking!) while I bury the items in the sand. They then have to use their buckets and spades to uncover the hidden loot.

Nature Play Ideas 17

There are a few toys that we feel need to be packed for every trip – a ball, frisbee and bats for sports games are always played with heaps, and a pack of cards can be used for lots of different games for all ages.

But the best games are the ones that cost nothing, fuel their imagination and get them back into the great outdoors!

Happy camping!

Nature Play Ideas 22

 

Be Sociable, Share!

61 thoughts on “Nature Play Ideas

  • March 16, 2018 at 11:41 am
    Permalink

    I and my family had a project last week: To make a bird bath. With the cooler weather, we are enjoying spending a whole lot more time outdoors as a family. Which is a good thing because our garden really needs some attention! We recently spent some time revamping the fairy garden (which I will share next week) and one thing we wanted to add to space was a bird bath. So we decided to make one ourselves from a terracotta pot. This was the perfect family project to involve my kindergartener in – quick and easy to complete, purposeful and pretty.

    Reply
  • March 15, 2018 at 9:17 am
    Permalink

    This was a such lovely and nostalgic post as it took me to childhood days. You aptly pointed out that playing in nature, with nature makes the kids happiest. With the advent of gadgets, we have actually stopped our kids from enjoying the variety that nature games offer. My favorite used to be scavenger hunt and of course wild art is for all ages. Just sit and make something from your surroundings.

    Reply
  • March 15, 2018 at 2:30 am
    Permalink

    The kids and and you look so happy playing in the nature. I would have done the same, if I had kids. It’s a great way to teach the importance of nature to kids. And, games like the nature scavenger hunt are so much fun for any age.

    Reply
  • March 14, 2018 at 3:40 am
    Permalink

    Some great ideas here! It’s all about getting creative and making the most of what nature has to offer. I think rock lego is a fantastic concept! Kids love creating and building things. And I think a make-believe camp is also a great concept too – teaching them to start thinking for themselves and preparing/planning in the wild. Survival skills!

    Reply
  • March 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm
    Permalink

    This is amazing. I love what you’re doing. When we’re camping my boys often just throw sticks. I don’t get it but they love it.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2018 at 1:19 pm
    Permalink

    First of all, your kids are super cute! Love the pics. Second of all, despite not having kids of my own, I do posses 3 god-children, so I completely understand the need to organize things to keep them entertained. I absolutely love the idea of a scavenger hunt. I might try it next time I visit my god-children 😛 At least, their mother will have a little time for herself 😛 Safe travels!

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 9:02 pm
    Permalink

    Rock Lego, Pirate camp, Wild art – all cool ideas. I remember being little and being bored of all the games. I used to gather with the other kids and as we grew up in the countryside, we were happy to explore and invent new activities. Rock Lego is something I played a lot, mainly because there were so many boys in my group.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:23 am
      Permalink

      Growing up in the country must have been great! If we settle down I’m vert tempted to do it somewhere rural so our kids have the outdoors experience.

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm
    Permalink

    these are some really really great ideas. I think it’s very important to try and encourage our kids ( & ourselves) to spend more time in nature…. this list just might do the trick!

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 6:10 pm
    Permalink

    Wow, love these ideas, sometimes actually during travel kids get bored and these fun things can really get them involved and interested. I especially liked the idea of creating paintings or structures with the things around, truly wonderful

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:24 am
      Permalink

      Thank you! Kids definitely get bored really easily – it’s great to be able to use things on hand to entertain them and not rely on toys and screens.

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm
    Permalink

    LOVE these ideas! My husband and I don’t even have kids right now and I already think about how many toys might accumulate with toddlers and school-aged kids–it’s so easy to do! Nature is definitely the best toy, though. I love the idea of building a “camp”–I used to do that all the time with my brothers growing up.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:26 am
      Permalink

      Toys are everywhere! We went to an exhibition in Sydney where they were highlighting plastic toys and how many were now on the earth – and here to stay! So many of my great childhood memories are from playing out with my big brother and friends too.

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 1:35 pm
    Permalink

    Great ideas, loved each one of them. I shall keep these in mind when I take my kids out the next time.

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 1:31 pm
    Permalink

    I love all of these so much! These are the best ideas for kids! I love the principle behind it and I love how creative and fun these ideas are. I have to imagine they’re much more stimulating than just playing with toys.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:28 am
      Permalink

      Thank you! I definitely agree that nature play has a lot more benefits than toys.

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 6:30 am
    Permalink

    Same with my niece. She has a lot of toys but would enjoy a walk in the park or playground visit most. I love the art you all made, so creative!

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:29 am
      Permalink

      I’ve often been guilty of trying to give the kids toys to keep them amused so I can get on with stuff – they soon catch on to this and also prefer a trip out as I’m fully present with them then too! I have a confession though – the art in the photo was one we found not made! We’re not at that skill level yet 🙂

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 6:07 am
    Permalink

    I loved the wild art and rock legos idea.. All these ideas seem so much fun..

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:30 am
      Permalink

      Thank you – we had a lot of fun making the list too!

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 5:07 am
    Permalink

    What a fun list of things to do while being outdoors! My kids are at their happiest when outdoors. We will have to try out an outdoor scavenger hunt and the wild art this week. I know my oldest will LOVE it!

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 2:32 am
    Permalink

    It’s always funny that kids always play with the simplest things rather than the store-bought toys. And playing outside is so important. I love your game ideas for adventuring outside. Getting dirty and having fun is always so healthy.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:31 am
      Permalink

      I couldn’t agree more! A little dirt is a great thing 🙂

      Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 12:13 am
    Permalink

    I’m glad that while growing up, electronics weren’t much of an option. This allowed me to be outside a ton and it really made a difference in my imagination.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:32 am
      Permalink

      I definitely agree – I worry about the amount of screen time this generation are getting. There are so many treasures waiting right outside – especially here in Australia.

      Reply
  • March 11, 2018 at 11:33 pm
    Permalink

    Wow u are so lucky that ur kids love exploring new places!

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:32 am
      Permalink

      We are – and very grateful for it too. We love exploring as a family and are trying to inspire others too.

      Reply
  • March 11, 2018 at 10:49 pm
    Permalink

    This is awesome. I’m a new mommy now and I could totally put these ideas into use for my daughter. Rock Lego or Rock Balancing is a serious art… I’ve never tried that though…

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:34 am
      Permalink

      Congrats new mumma!
      We met a man who did rock balancing for a hobby – some of the constructions he’d made were unbelievable! So much patience and skill!

      Reply
  • March 11, 2018 at 6:55 pm
    Permalink

    Love all of these ideas! I am a nanny and I am always looking for excuses to get the kids outside to explore. The screen time takes over and I feel like so many kids are missing out on the true joys of childhood!

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:35 am
      Permalink

      I agree! There is so much to see and do outside – and kids just love to be outdoors. Hopefully you can use some of these ideas at work!

      Reply
  • March 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm
    Permalink

    This is all so amazing and great ideas I can do with my daughter while out camping. I was thinking about doing some camping with her this summer and I will have to keep this in mind.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:36 am
      Permalink

      What a great idea! Have a wonderful time – hope you get to enjoy these as much as we have!

      Reply
  • March 11, 2018 at 4:52 am
    Permalink

    These activities look like such fun you can have while on little adventure! I can’t wait to take my two kiddos exploring together. Right now I just have the one he was able to explore, and loves it!

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:43 am
      Permalink

      Little explorers are just so inspiring aren’t they! Mine motivate me to get outside and have fun every day.

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 10:29 pm
    Permalink

    Wow! this is so much fun! thank you very much for all the awesome ideas, I would like to incorporate these into a trip such with the kids. Also love the many nice photos! 😀

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:44 am
      Permalink

      Thank you! We hope you have a lot of fun trying them out!

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 9:13 pm
    Permalink

    Awesome! I’m trying to get my girlfriend and her kids to go camping with me this summer. I’ll bring this list with me to entice them a little more. If anything I’ll play them by myself… 🙂

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:45 am
      Permalink

      Haha! They won’t be able to resist joining in you’ll be having so much fun! Good luck!

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm
    Permalink

    So much fun. I love seeing kids out in nature being kids. As a teacher, I try to spend as much time as possible outside, but between curriculum and liability, I never feel like they really get to truly be free outside. Then they go home and play video games.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:59 am
      Permalink

      Wow you’ve got such an important job – it’s great that you see the value of the outdoors! It is a shame that not all kids get the full benefit isn’t it.

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 7:23 am
    Permalink

    What an expedition! Camping in Australia sure looks fun. I live scavenger hunting! Haha…I’ve enjoyed it for a long time now and I’m sure you’ve considered it as part of the games since it’s so fun. It’s also a way to spice up bonding between parents and kids.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:01 am
      Permalink

      Australia is definitely brilliant for camping – such an incredible country! I agree that these outdoor games are great for bonding – between families and with Mother Nature too!

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 5:44 am
    Permalink

    Loved these ideas , I’m such a big lover of nature play and most of the times, I do so along with my son. The random play with pebbles was so beautiful.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:03 am
      Permalink

      Thank you! It’s so special to be able to enjoy nature as a family isn’t it.

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 3:17 am
    Permalink

    Wow, these are great tips. That’s true, when you have kids, toys will be all over the house. I really love the idea of scavenge hunt and that’s really good, the make believe camping 🙂 We always do the Rock lego and make some consequence to the loser if it falls.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:04 am
      Permalink

      Oooh that’s a great idea to have a penalty for the one that knocks it down – like Jenga!

      Reply
  • March 10, 2018 at 1:37 am
    Permalink

    I love doing these types of games when we travel. Especially when we are camping!

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:46 am
      Permalink

      That’s great! It sure beats carting loads of toys along doesn’t it!

      Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 8:11 am
      Permalink

      Us too! Hopefully we have given you some inspiration!

      Reply
  • March 9, 2018 at 10:48 pm
    Permalink

    Aww you guys seems to have had so much fun there. I cant wait for summer to take my daughter out too

    Reply
    • March 13, 2018 at 7:51 am
      Permalink

      We have – thank you! Summer is almost over for us here so we’ll be looking for some Winter activities for a while! Hope you have a lovely camping season.

      Reply
  • March 9, 2018 at 9:27 pm
    Permalink

    I love the wild art and rock leggo ideas. I have an active 2 year old boy and he would love those two things. I’d probably have to keep him from throwing his “materials” however.

    Reply
  • March 9, 2018 at 7:55 pm
    Permalink

    Aw reading all of these ideas makes me wishe I had kids! I like the idea of the nature scavenger hunt; it sounds like a lot of fun! Also the wild art is an excellent idea,as it shows you don’t need to be indoors all the time, and stuck on the ipad.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2018 at 9:09 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you! One of the best things about having kids is definitely the excuse to play – although you could definitely do some of these as grown up activities too! To be honest my hubby is the one who does the rock lego the most haha!
      We are trying to avoid the iPad and screen time trap for as long as we can.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: