Spring Break Nature Activities for Kids
Take advantage of time off and warmer weather to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with these nature activities for kids during spring break.
There’s no better time than spring break to get kids outdoors and involved in some nature activities. After a winter spent cooped up indoors, everyone is ready for fresh air and new places to explore. Whether you’re heading off on vacation or staying home, make an effort to head out and enjoy the first flowers, bees, bugs, and more of spring. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Go Exploring. It’s the simplest of nature activities, but it’s often the most exciting. Start in your own backyard and look for newly emerged flower stems and budding leaves. Count the number of insects you see, and species of birds. Then head further out to a local park, and see what you can find there that isn’t in your own yard. Practice the art of observing quietly, and hold a contest to see who can spot certain things first (a red bird, a flying bug, etc.). If possible, give kids a camera to record their sightings, and collect specimens to take home (where permitted). A few hours, or even minutes, outdoors each day will yield so many results!
- TIP: Spark their excitement with a field guide made just for kids. The Into The Field Guide: A Walk in the Woods kit is an excellent introduction to exploring nature. The guide itself offers basic information about birds, insects, plants, and much more, including common species identification. The kit includes a sturdy divided box for holding specimens. It also has a collection container with magnifying glass lid and a net bag for toting around your finds. Learn more or buy your own here.
Start a Nature Journal. Now that you’ve all been out exploring, it’s time to document your nature activities! Buy each child a notebook with blank pages and a box of colored pencils. Little ones can draw pictures of what they see, while older ones can also document their sightings in words and dates. You can also print photos from your camera and have kids paste them in. Practice mapping out your yard, or the nature trail at the park. Make a list of birds or flowers you’d like to see.
- TIP: Start a new journal each spring. It’s interesting to compare the dates of first flowers and birds each year, or note unusual weather or wildlife activity.
Be a Citizen Scientist. Take your nature observations a bit further and report your sightings to various citizen science projects. If you’re taking photos of your sightings, Project Noah is a fun and easy way to share your spottings with others. You can even get help identifying unknown specimens there. Spring break often coincides with migration season, so head out with your eBird app and have kids help check off the birds you see. Sign up for Project NestWatch, where you’ll learn the safe way to observe nesting birds and report your sightings. Use Habitat Network to map your own yard and get ideas for changes you can make to attract more wildlife. Look online for other citizen science projects to incorporate into your nature activities.
- TIP: If you live in the city, or are new to bird watching yourself, start with Celebrate Urban Birds, a citizen science project focusing on 16 core species anyone can learn to recognize.
Plan a Garden. Spring is a great time to plan a new garden bed, and kids can definitely help. Choose a place in the yard, then help them learn about soil testing, sun exposure, and watering needs. Allow them to choose the plants they’ll grow, and look through seed catalogs to make selections together. It might still be too early to plant, depending on where you live, but you can start prep now. Build a new raised bed and fill it with soil and compost. Or, lay out a new bed in the yard and put down newspapers or cardboard with mulch over top to kill the grass beneath. Once warmer weather is here to stay, the bed will be ready to be dug and planted.
- TIP: Want to guarantee success for kids new to gardening? Use some of these foolproof plants for kids. Got picky eaters? Let them try growing their own vegetables and see how fun it is to eat what you grow.
Install a New Bird Feeder or Nest Box. Start by doing some research together about the different types of birds you can expect to find in your area, and the feeders or nest boxes they use. Then either buy or build a new feeder or box, and choose the best place for it in your yard. Give kids the job of helping to keep it filled, and encourage them to record new spottings in their nature journals.
- TIP: Try this muffin tin feeder to offer a variety of seeds to your birds. Click here to learn how to build a one-board bird house. Get more DIY feeder ideas here and bird house ideas here.