Spring is the perfect time to plan nature activities for preschoolers. Birds are singing, puddles are forming and the world is starting to turn green again. Let’s plan some fun learning activities for your preschooler that foster their love of nature!
Plant Seeds Indoors
Fun and educational, planting seeds with preschoolers is a great springtime activity that teaches kids about the natural world. Curious minds love nurturing and watching those little seeds turn into green sprouts. Growing plant seeds indoors with kids can be an engaging and easy process. Just follow these simple steps to get your preschooler working on her green thumb!
- Planting pots or paper cups
- Potting soil
- Small shovel
- Spray bottle for water
Learning activity: Gardening with children is a great way to teach the about the three component plants need to grow: soil, water and sunlight. Explain that soil is like food for plants. Have your preschooler scoop a small pile of potting soil into their planting pot. Then give them 2 or 3 seeds (as some may not germinate) to place in the soil and have them scoop a tiny bit more soil on top to cover the seeds.
Next, explain that plants need water to grow big and strong and let them use the spray bottle to lightly mist the soil. Finally, talk about how sunlight is another necessity for plants and find a sunny spot to keep their pot. Now the waiting begins.
What kids learn: Besides learning about the basic needs of plants, growing seeds helps teach children patience as they wait and check each day on the progress of their plant. It also helps develop responsibility as they care for and water their plant regularly.
Learn How Maple Syrup Is Made
The transition between winter and spring, typically throughout March, is the ideal time for maple syrup production. Freezing temperatures at night and warmer temperatures in the day allow for sap to flow more freely. Take this opportunity to learn about how that delicious maple syrup we love is made from sugar maple trees.
Learning activity: Start your morning off with some Healthy Flaxseed Pancakes and real maple syrup to get a taste of the yummy end product!
Take a walk in your own neighborhood or local park and observe the trees you see. Talk about the differences and similarities you notice. What does the bark look and feel like? Are there any buds or leaves on the tree yet?
Explain that sugar maple trees, which may or may not grow in your area, are a special kind of tree that have a sweet liquid called sap inside them. In the spring, these trees are tapped with a spout and the maple sugar slowly drips into a bucket. Then the maple sugar is heated up or boiled until it becomes the maple syrup we had this morning!
Local resources: If you live in an area where sugar maple trees grow, your local nature center is likely to have hands-on learning experiences about the maple syrup collection and production process.
In West Michigan, the local nature centers listed below offer great educational programs for kids and families. Please be mindful of any safety precautions in place at this time.
What kids learn: Children learn how trees come in all different shapes, sizes and colors just like people and how yummy foods like maple syrup are grown in nature.
Create Temporary Nature Art
One of the best parts of making temporary nature art is that you won’t have piles of paper artwork when you are done! The idea behind temporary art (also known an ephemeral art) is that you use items found in nature to design a piece of artwork whether it is a pattern, sculpture or picture, that is not meant to last.
Watch this video for inspiration and then try it out on your own:
Learning activity: Ready to start your art adventure? Go outside with your preschooler to collect items like leaves, pine cones, stones, flowers or any other object found in nature. Have them create a piece of art with the nature items. Check on it again later. How has it changed?
Another fun temporary nature art idea is to create a cairn or a tower of flat stones. See how long it can stand. Likely, not too long with a preschooler around!
What kids learn: Temporary nature art can be a great educational activity that enhances preschoolers’ appreciation for nature. It allows children to use their imaginations to create masterpieces with objects they may not typically use for art. Also, this activity emphasizes the importance of enjoying the moment and embracing change.
Go Puddle Jumping
Preschoolers are fascinated with puddles and springtime is prime puddle season. If your child constantly wants to splash into puddles at the most inconvenient times, plan a specific time to go puddle jumping. That way you can ensure they are dressed for the occasion with their waterproof boots and a rain jacket.
Learning activity: Puddles are a great way to explore how the natural world works. Turn your puddle jumping adventure into an outdoor learning activity by experimenting with these topics:
- Observe cause and effect. What will happen when I jump in the water?
- Explore differing depths. Which puddles are deep and which ones are shallow? How does the water react differently depending on the depth?
- Investigate density by looking for various objects to put in the puddle like leaves, rocks or sticks. Ask your preschooler which ones will sink and which will float and test it out.
What kids learn: Children can learn the basics of science experiments: asking questions, making predictions and then testing it out.
Make A Grapefruit Bird Feeder
Try a unique spin on making an easy bird feeder with your preschooler by using a grapefruit rind as the base!
- Grapefruit (an orange will work too!)
- Small knife and spoon
- 3 pipe cleaners
- Bird seed
Learning activity: First, slice and eat some healthy grapefruit as a snack. Then empty the remaining juice.
Grown-up tasks: Make sure to keep the knife safely away from curious little hands as you cut out the remaining grapefruit membranes. Use a spoon to help scoop everything out. Then use the knife to poke 3 small holes about 1 inch down from the rim around the grapefruit.
Preschooler tasks: Have your preschool poke a pipe cleaner through each hole and then twist the end around to secure it. Then twist all three pipe cleaners together at the top. Fill with bird seed and place in your yard for all the birdies to enjoy!
What kids learn: Preschoolers can work on fine motor skills by manipulating the pipe cleaners and pouring bird seed. They will also be introduced to the idea of repurposing items no longer needed into new useful items.
Looking for more fun spring activities? Check out 15 Creative Spring Break Activities At Home.
Which of these nature activities have you tried or are excited to try? Share your thoughts below!