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Fun & Educational Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids

Emma Cummings

The days are growing longer, the weather is not so cold, and spring flowers are blooming. Winter’s icy grip is loosening, and it feels like a call to be outside. There are many ways to increase the delight of the season with more opportunities to spend time outdoors. It’s time to increase the number of hours of outdoor play in the spring months. Do not underestimate the power of memories created with fun and educational spring outdoor activities for kids.

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 homeschool families at AriseHomeEducation.com

As a child, I grew up surrounded by woods. I loved May, as it marked the Bluebells season. As the years went on, it was also the time of exams.  I have carried all these years the link in my mind between the two: this is not a negative one. It was a delight to be on exam leave and be able to study from home (Perhaps I was a homeschooler at heart even then!) I would take breaks from study to wander over the road to the woods and delight in the carpet of blue, and the sweet scent of the flowers that filled the air.

Spring outdoor activities for kids made me a whimsical child.

I was a slightly whimsical child. One year I decided that it must be wonderful to read sitting high in a tree. So I took my book, to the bluebell patch and climbed a tree. There I sat to read my book. I wish I could say it was as magical as I imagined in my mind. But sitting in a tree is not very comfortable. So reading aloft the bluebells in the tree did not last long. But the memory is still magical.

Years later, when my children were all small, I came to see the advent of spring with relief. Months of dark, cold damp Scottish days make it hard to take young children outside for long periods of time, and the results are cabin fever for the little ones. So as the hours of daylight increase, and the air warms, all are relieved to be in the woods again.

I remember one year we had been at an Easter crafts morning at a local church. Afterwards, we went walking through the woods. The trees were in the early stages of unfurling their new leaves. The warm sunlight effused the woodland floor, and the spring green shone beautifully from the canopy. Spring primroses and wood anemones carpeted the woodland flower. The sense of joy was palpable. The children ran, and the boys found sticks to play with. They climbed trees. The feeling of sunshine on our faces and the hope of summer days was medicine to a weary mama’s heart.

What Makes Spring Special?

I think this is what makes spring special, it is the hope it creates for what is to come. Every season has its joys and beauty. However, winter can be a real struggle, especially for home educators with young children. It simply is difficult to take them outside for long periods, and for everyone to enjoy it.

Autumn is majestic in its beauty, but it is tinged with sadness, that the trees will lie bare, the woods will be muddy, and we may have days and days when we can’t leave the house.

But Spring!

Spring has the bursting forth of new life, the warming of the earth, and the promise of summer around the corner. We know we will have days of picnics, trips to the beach, long hikes, and simply playing outdoors.

image of child in woodland field of blue belss enjoying Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids - Nature walk resources for families at AriseHomeEducation.com

Gardening as a Fun and Educational Spring Outdoor Activity for Kids

Spring is the perfect time to begin gardening with children. If you are not green-fingered yourself, there are plenty of ways to begin a small garden with your children. Buy a few pots and let the children choose some spring bedding plants to add some colour, or some seeds to plant. Plant sunflower seeds indoors, children love to watch them grow tall. Try making a vegetable garden. If this is new to you, start small.

A great way to start off young seedlings is to fill toilet roll tubes with compost, once the seedlings are ready to plant outdoors the tube can be simply inserted into a hole in the soil, as it will compost away. Planting seeds and starting a small garden is great for children of all ages, and for young children can help with fine motor skills.

Find an area of your garden to plant a butterfly garden. Visit a local garden centre and select planets that will help attract butterflies and moths to your garden. 

Make homemade seed bombs. These are great to use to help nature. You can either use them in your garden or take them on a nature walk to throw away. Remember, wildflowers are foundational for a healthy ecosystem.

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Nature Walks and Nature Journaling are Fun and Educational Activities for Kids

Go to a local park or woodland for a nature walk. In early March, look out for spawning amphibians. As Spring progresses, take time to look at how the woodland floor changes. The snowdrops pass, and the primrose and bluebell take their places. A bluebell wood in May is one of the most delightful places in the British countryside, the air fills with the sweet scent of the flowers.

Spring is also an excellent time to go foraging. If this is something new to you, try to book a foraging workshop to teach the skills of foraging, as there are some plants that are very toxic. However, there are many easy-to-identify plants, that with a little knowledge, will be easy to find. In spring wild garlic, three-cornered leek, and nettle are all readily available, and can be used in cooking. Foraged nettle makes a very nutritious soup. 

The Arrival of Spring Brings Woodlands to Life

Go on a spring scavenger hunt to look for the signs of spring. This is so much fun for kids of all ages. Younger kids can learn about the natural world, whereas older children can be more aware of the changes in the seasons. Through the months of spring, the woodland will undergo a great change. With the arrival of spring, the woodland floor comes alive, and then turns into a carpet of green, helped by the sunlight readily coming through the branches. By late May, the sunlight penetrating all the way to the woodland floor is reduced as the new leaves are unfolding in the tree canopy. In early spring, look out for bird nests, and birds busily preparing for the arrival of chicks.

Fun & Educational Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids & Teens

With older children go on an evening hike to watch the sun set. This is a magical thing to do. Take a picnic tea, and warm layers and find a hill to climb. Sit with your picnic and watch as the sun goes down and the skies darken. Watch for the first star of the evening to appear. This is a wonderful activity to add to a stargazing journal. It’s a perfect opportunity to gather ideas and inspire creative writing. If possible camp for the night and watch the sun rise. However if not remember to carry along a head torch to help you all come down the hill safely.

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Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids: Science Experiments

Daffodils are some of the best flowers to dissect to learn the parts of a flower. Using a magnifying glass, or microscope can enhance this activity, but is not vital. Look at different spring flowers and see how they compare. Flowers like daisies and sunflowers are known as compound flowers, this means the head is made up of many tiny flowers clustered together around a main head. 

If you are beginning a garden it is also a great opportunity to study seed germination. Bean seeds are fantastic to use. Place cotton wool in a jar, and a seed down the side. Keep the cotton wool moist. Observe the seed as it germinates. This can be taken further by exploring different variables. For example try keeping a jar in the fridge, one at room temperature, and a third in a hotter location. How does this effect the germination?

Make a bird feeder as a fun Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids.

It is important to realise that through the early months of spring there can still be a lack of food for birds, so it is important to keep bird feeders well stocked, this is also a great time to obverse birds, as well as give them a helping hand. You can even make a DIY bird feeder as a fun activity.

As the weather can be changeable, and there are many rainy days in spring, it is a great time to do a weather project. Keep a weather journal for a couple of weeks. Older children can track the temperature and graph the fluctuations. Observe the different types of clouds, and learn what they tell you about the weather, and what type of weather different clouds bring.

Go on a bug hunt. This is a good back garden science activity. Look for the different invertebrates you can find, and where. Older children can catalogue and identify them. For younger children, this can be a bug scavenger hunt, or they can sketch what they find.

Do some bubble science! Children love to blow bubbles. Make your own bubble solution, add bubble wands and bubble blowers. Discuss the colours you see, these are caused by the refraction of light, the same as makes a rainbow in the sky.

Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids

Nature Highlights to Look Out For

  1. Migrations: Spring is also a season of migrations. Look out for the return of birds that are returning to build nests are raise young. In particular look out for the return of swallows, swifts, and house martins. These garden birds are easily seen regardless of where you are. Plan a trip to a local nature reserve, to spot rarer birds. Ospreys are particularly impressive. These birds are highly protected but many nature reserves have web cameras to view the nests.
  2. Spring Equinox: the equinox is the halfway point between the winter and summer solstice. The word equinox means equal night, and the hours of night and day are equal at this point. The equinox falls on March 20-21.
  3. Dawn Chorus: The dawn chorus is a glorious event, which spans spring and early summer. This is the time the bird song is at its height. Late spring is the best time to enjoy it, due to this being the time birds are raising their chicks. If you fancy an easy start to listen to the growing cacophony of sound as the sun rises, set your alarm early in the month of May. Some bird nature reserves host dawn chorus events.
  4. Puffin Trips: If you live near the coast, and there are puffin nesting sites close by, this is the best time to observe these beautiful birds. Arrange a planned trip with a reputable company, so as not to spook the birds who are raising their chicks at this time.

More Back Garden Fun

A great investment is a mud kitchen. Young children will have hours of fun making mud pies and playing throughout the whole year. As well as being great fun they also provide opportunities for natural sensory play.

Do some outdoor games like a good old-fashioned game of tag, capture the flag, or hopscotch. Buy some sidewalk chalk to have on hand. Kids love having a chance to create art on the path outside.

If the weather allows, celebrate World Book Day on March 7th, with a spring read-aloud in the garden. If your child so desires they could even follow the example their of public schooled counterparts and dress up for the day as their favourite character from a book. Great choices of books are:

Take Maths Outdoors for Fun and Educational Spring Activities for Kids

If the weather is particularly fine take maths outdoors. The Maths Week Scotland website has a huge range of activities to do maths in a fun way outside. It is a good idea to plan ahead. Perhaps have a basket of resources to pull out that can help facilitate outdoor maths. A lot of these activities need simple materials like chalk, pebbles, pine cones, number tiles, and sticks. By having a basket like this prepared, you can easily pull it out when needed. Such a basket is also great for open-ended play for younger children.

Either in the backyard or in the nearby park, have an outdoor picnic. You can even take poetry tea outdoors. Have a spring poetry tea dedicated to the beautiful flowers. Poetry tea picnics do not need to be complicated. They can be a simple snack, and drink to enjoy on a rug in the back garden. Or if you want to make it a bit special, bake a cake, go to a meadow or woodland, and take time to savour the experience. 

Take Art Outdoors – Another fun spring outdoor activity for kids.

Take art outdoors. This enables you to make more mess and not worry about the clean up indoors afterward. 

Visit a beach to find pale, smooth pebbles for pebble art. Use acrylic paint, or pens to decorate them. These can be used to make a feature in the garden or to hide on walks for other people to find. Perhaps write an encouraging message on them to cheer someone up.

Make paint brushes from natural materials, like sticks or leaves and flowers. See how different materials create different effects and shapes.

Sun painting is a lovely activity. Buy photo-sensitive paper online, and find natural objects with a clear outline to place on the paper. The sun’s light creates an image leaving the shadow on the object. 

Look at spring-inspired art. Good examples are Monet’s Spring, Van Gough’s Fishing in Spring, or Gustav Klimt’s Italian Garden.

Field Trip Ideas

Visit a local farm or rare breed farm to see baby animals. It is a delightful experience to watch newborn baby lambs and chicks. Although family farm parks can be expensive, as a treat this can be a great way to encounter different farm animals up close. It may be possible to book an educational visit with a home school group and receive a discount.

Visit a local nature reserve. Research where you can go to see something special. Some reserves will have hidden cameras set up to observe rare birds or prey like osprey as they nest. Different reserves will attract different wildlife, so do a bit of research for a great day out with the whole family. Consider organising an educational trip for your local home education group or coop. Most reserves will have ranger-led activities as part of their educational program.

Bike Rides & Open Days

Many historic sites reopen in spring after a winter break. Visit an old castle or grand house. Check out local historical organisations, like the National Trust, or Historic Scotland/England. They have deals on membership for families which allow you access not only to their properties but also events. Spring is a great time to join, and will be a motivator to visit their properties.

Go for a family bike ride. Take a picnic and plan a route that is accessible for the entire family. This is a great way to get some physical activity and fresh spring air. National Parks often have designated bike trails which are graded by difficulty. Spring is good for a family bike ride, as it is cooler than summer.

Go geocaching as a family. Geocaching is a type of treasure hunt. You download the app and use it to guide you to the treasure. Many families use geocaching as a way to explore a new area.

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Prioritize Fun and Educational Spring Outdoor Activities for Kids

By prioritizing time outdoors in spring, habits can be formed that will be carried through to summer. After the long winter, find time to get outdoors. For older kids who may be facing exams in springtime. Outdoors can be a way to de-stress from exams.  Young children delight in outdoor play and the connection with nature that is created. If your family finds it hard to spend time outdoors, or your children prefer screens, do small things consistently to slowly increase the time you spend outdoors.

Many families enjoy using the 1000 hours outside tracker. The aim is 1000 hours outside in a year. However if this seems an impossible goal, you can scale it to suit your family, and where you are at. If you decide to use the 1000-hour tacker do not compare yourself to other families. The important thing is to enjoy time outside with your children in the fresh air and with nature.

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