Getting your kids outside isn’t always easy. Maybe it’s blizzarding and raining buckets, you live miles from a park, or your kids just simply refuse to go out.
(Or remember that time the world was forced to stay home?…)
Or, sometimes you’re not actually allowed to stray far from home or even leave it unless necessary!… or you don’t want to! Then what? Then what do you do with the kids to keep them learning and engaging with nature?
Sometimes a quiet and covert approach is necessary. Sometimes you can come right out and be like… “okay folks, here’s the deal, today we’re being indoorsy nature enthusiasts” Either way you need to approach bringing more of the natural world into your home, hopefully some of these suggestions will help you foster a love of nature in your kids.
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It is my hope that some of these indoor nature activities will spark an interest and curiosity that expands to the outside world… giving your kids the eagerness and willingness to get outside and explore when the opportunity arises.
A quick and easy printable ebook full of indoor nature activity prompts:
Maybe you just don’t want to waste time scrolling and reading and gathering ideas. And, instead you just want quick nature play, nature learning, and indoor activity ideas for your kids.
If this is you, then, here’s your answer – the Stuck at Home Nature Play Survival Pack… Grab it here!
This package is full of nature play ideas for kids stuck close to home. You’ll find indoor nature-y scavenger hunts and exploring/learning prompts, kid’s jokes, a nature journal, a backyard scavenger hunt, and even a nature-themed BINGO reading challenge.
15 Easy Indoor Nature Activities:
1. Indoor gardening
If you have plants in the house or on the patio, have the kids help you when it comes to feeding and caring for them. Show them what the plant’s leaves are saying, explain how you know the plants need water, and teach them proper ways to water the plants. House plant care could even be added to weekly chore tasks for your kids.
2. Sprout something
Grow herbs and sprouts for cooking… or if you’re adventurous, you could even try growing an indoor mushroom kit. Seeds from broccoli, spinach, lettuces, peas, and radishes can all be used as sprouts.
To sprout these seeds, you’ll need a glass jar, an elastic, and some cheesecloth (or pantyhose). Add a tablespoon of seeds to the jar and cover with your breathable fabric. Twice a day rinse and drain your seeds (you can just add and drain right through the fabric). Then, once they’re big enough to eat, throw them on salad or a sandwich. Yummy!
And, if you don’t have seeds to eat as sprouts, you can always let you kids experiment with trying to grow other seeds they find in the house. Think fruit and vegetable seeds, dried beans and legumes for cooking, and kids could even search for seeds in the backyard and try to grow those indoors to.
3. Fill your walls with nature
Fill your time and your walls with beautiful pictures of nature! Maybe you have photographs from past adventures that you’ve been wanting to hang up or maybe you can enlist your kids to make some new paintings and drawings of their favorite outdoor spots.
You could also pull out those ancient National Geographics you have in that box downstairs and use the maps and inserts for wall posters or cut up some images and have the kids make collage pieces.
4. Fill the bookshelves with nature
When you’re hunting through the used store keep an eye out for local field guides, encyclopedia type books (any from the National Geographic Association or the Smithsonian are great!), and adventure reads. You can also subscribe to kids magazines that have science and nature content.
5. Bring nature to story time
When it comes to bed time stories and couch cuddles, you can reach for books about animals, nature, and outdoor adventure. The more that kids see and learn about the living world and outdoor activities, the more likely they’ll extend that interest when they are outdoors.
You can see the many books that we’ve read and recommend by checking out our virtual book shelves here: The Take Them Outside Amazon Shop
6. Watch nature from the couch
Sometimes TV gets a bad rap, but really… is some TV time that bad? I grew up watching the nature of things Sunday night and I know I learned a lot… and no matter how many times I saw the episode with the lions, I still sat there silently cheering that that baby gazelle on, but every time… every single time the lions caught it!
Here are a few suggestions for quality nature screen-time
- Science and Nature Documentaries
- Live nature cameras (streamed online)
- Facebook or Youtube lives where guides show you animals, teach, or demonstrate experiments (We’re loving the Cincinnati Zoo lives and Science Mom right now)
7. Bring Insects Inside
If you’re feeling adventurous, start an indoor worm composting factory. Depending on where you are you might be able to get some worms from a local provider or perhaps find a friend who could share a few of their worms to get you started. This kit has everything you need, but I believe a quick google search will show you that just a simple tub will work just as well as the fancy systems.
And, if compost worms are your thing, perhaps you might want to consider raising butterflies or preying mantis for release (if you live in the correct climate). Again, a local specific google search will likely give you your options.
8. Pets – both big and small
Caring for pets is one of the best ways for kids to get up close and personal with other living creatures. If you are new to owning a pet or are limited in your abilities to add another member to your family you might want to consider starting with a terrarium or smaller fish tank with goldfish or a Beta.
9. Adopt a pet for the night
How about enjoying the company of a pet but not having full responsibility? Offering to care for a family member’s dog or guinea pig for the weekend is a fun way to bring nature inside and keep the kids busy with the excitement of the pet and also help the kids understand the full responsibility of what it’s actually like to care for a pet full-time.
10. Have an indoor nature treasure shelf
Start a ‘treasure shelf’ where kids can display their outdoor finds like rocks, leaves, pine cones, etc. Instead of them ending up in the washing machine… encourage your kids to leave them on the treasure shelf instead! Consider leaving a magnifying glass or kid’s microscope like this one on this or this shelf or on a nearby table.
11. Invite stargazing
Consider setting up a telescope by a window with some star maps and guides. This doesn’t need to be set up permanently, but by remembering to leave the telescope out once in a while the kids will have renewed interest to spend some time gazing up at the night sky.
12. Animal pretend play
Consider having a variety of indoor nature toys like animal and dinosaur figurines and stuffies that your kids can play and cuddle with.
My daughters absolutely loved pretending to be cougars, wolves, foxes, and puppies. And, a simple felt fox mask like this one is the only toy prompt that has lead to hours and hours of play.
This post is full of other indoor nature toy and play ideas for younger kids.
13. Nature at the dinner table
When you sit down to dinner each night consider having prompts to encourage nature-y and adventure-y conversations.
You could grab these science and nature themed conversation cards, or write up your own.
When the dinner table gets quiet or a bit too silly, pull out these cards and see where the conversation heads instead.
Our kids also really enjoy quizzing each other with Trivia Pursuit questions at the table. And, there are all sorts of trivia sets out there these days – like Brain Box for kids – looks like a fast paces fun game for sure! Or, we love using these Professor Noggin’s games in our family!
14. Nature Treasure Boxes
Preschoolers and toddlers usually really enjoy playing with random loose parts. You can make them a nature-themed bin full of all sorts of natural treasures for them to build and play with.
Consider filling a small tub with smaller containers that they need to open and explore and fill and empty. Think shells, pretty stones, pieces of drift wood, maybe some paint brushes and small scoops too.
For an added task, give them some water to paint these treasures and watch how their colors and textures change.
Or, for the older kids, you could pull out the nature field guides and let them identify rocks or shells from their collections.
15. Indoor Birdwatching
Invite some birdwatching from this side of the window. Throw down some pillows and lay out a pair of binoculars and a few bird identifiers. If you have eager kids they might even want to write and draw about their observations.
This article gives you more ideas and explanation for making an indoor birdwatching spot for your kids. (And, you might find yourself staring out the window at the birds a bit more than you used to as well!)
And a bonus: Nature Crafts and activity sets
If you find you’re still looking for activities and crafts for kids to do indoors you might want to check out some nature-type subscription craft sets. You can order just one month or ongoing.
This Green Kids Craft kit is very popular:
Above all else, kids are the world`s biggest copycats. So, the most important thing you can do to encourage a love of nature is to model a respect for living things and the environment, and to show them your interest and excitement with the above suggestions.
With a little prompting, it can be fun to see how your kids will get excited and interested in nature. I love watching kids’ interests grow… they’re always different, and sometimes surprising.
How indoor nature activities, learning, and play have encouraged outdoor exploration:
My son became very interested in dinosaurs after watching the Walking with Dinosaur series. This interest and excitement then lead us on many fossil hunting hikes and museum trips.
My daughter found our Kaufman Bird Guide, made a pair of binoculars, created a bird notebook, and began regular bird watching – all on her own initiative.
Perhaps my children’s interests in dinosaurs, fossil hunting, and birds would have generated on their own. But, I really do believe that the little invitations to learn we’ve left around the house did play a big role in igniting those passions.
It is so very easy to include some of these indoor nature activities into your home and day. Are there any other ways that you include nature in the home for you or your kids?
Other indoor nature activity reads: