Kids need nature, simply put. Do you remember all the time you spent outdoors as a child, climbing trees, getting dirty, splashing in creeks, or just laying in the grass, watching clouds? That precious time is a rarity for kids of today's generation. They spend hours hooked on electronic media, have little available playtime due to sports and other sheduled activities, spend much of their time sheltered indoors because of parents' fears, have less access to parks and woodlands, or have reduced recess at school. Yet quality time spent in nature is vital to kids' health and well-being. Studies have shown that time spent outdoors helps kids feel happy; have better health and weight; have higher academic success, especially in science and math; have downtime from over-packed, stressful schedules; and have better attention spans.

Truth be told, nature needs kids, too. Environmental stewardship starts with childhood experiences, and our world needs new generations helping preserve habitat and doing what they can to protect biodiversity. Get kids "unplugged" from TV and video games, and get them outdoors! There are lots of outdoor activities that bring kids, nature, and fun together. Be sure to scroll down to see some creative nature and wildlife projects you can do, too!

  • Encourage outdoor exploration and unstructured playtime as often as you can.
  • Take kids on a walk, hike, or nature scavenger hunt
  • Slow down, sit, relax, and observe nature
  • Go orienteering or geocaching
  • Stargaze
  • Watch the clouds
  • Find the answers to nature questions together
  • Partipate in a Citizen Science project to help turn a favorite pastime into an even more rewarding and beneficial experience
    Birds! Cornell Lab Projects
    Firefly Watch
    Frogwatch USA
    Great Sunflower Project
    Hummingbirds at Home
    Journey North (Migration)
    Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
    Monarch Watch Classroom Research Projects
    Project BudBurst
    Wildlife Watch!
  • Explore at night with a flashlight
  • Search (kindly) for animal homes
  • Watch animal behavior -- what they eat, where they nest, how they interact
  • Go on a picnic
  • Go camping
  • Set limits on screen time
  • Bring the indoors out -- eat, read, draw outside!
  • Bring the outdoors in -- keep binoculars and field guides handy for watching animals from the window, create collections of nature treasures
  • Play outside together! Show kids the things you used to do -- build a fort, climb a tree, play flashlight tag, etc.
  • Volunteer to help plant trees or restore habitat, or participate in other environmental stewardship projects

Projects for wildlife encourage kids' environmental stewardship and love of nature (but they are just as much fun for grown-ups, too!). I've created detailed how-to guides or general blog posts for many of them -- just follow the links!

Project ideas

Get creative -- there's lots more fun to be had!

Make an easy and very special homemade nature journal or field guide.
Give a milk jug a new purpose and make an easy milk jug birdfeeder.
Make an easy shelter for toads using broken pots, rocks, or hollow logs.
Make peanut butter treats for birds, using pine cones or log feeders.
Create a one-stop shop where birds can gather materials for their nests.
Create safe nesting places for native bees with bamboo, wood, or just plain dirt! (project how-to coming soon) Give the gift of nature by using recycled paper pulp to make seed paper ornaments and cards.
Grow caterpillar host plants to raise caterpillars and watch the butterfly life cycle.
Hand-sculpt pinch-pot bowls or paint premade pottery to make beautiful standing bird or butterfly feeders. (project how-to coming soon)
Construct simple or fancy insect hotels to provide nesting places and shelter for native bees, fireflies, lacewings, ladybeetles, and other insects.
Make seed balls as a way to sow seeds without digging.
Decorate a saucer to make a colorful birdbath. (project how-to coming soon)
Create a small water feature for birds, dragonflies, toads, and frogs.