Nature activities for inside & the backyard (bucket list & calendar)

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Have you been asked to work from home? Or perhaps you’re doing school at home or you’re practicing social distancing… or (and hopefully this isn’t the case) your family has been asked to self-isolate?

Or, maybe it’s nothing at all to do with this current state of affairs… you just happen to be stuck at home.

Whatever the reason, below you’ll find a list of various ways you can still be active, connecting with nature, and making the most of your time at home.

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4 Weeks of Nature

These 2 different printables will help you and your family decide which nature activities to do each day.

You’ll get a checklist and a calendar and while some activities are similar, you could potentially use both for a whole 8 weeks of nature… although, I really hope this isn’t going to last an entire 2 months!

The lists are pretty easy to follow, but if you’d like more ideas and guidance read on.

Yes, you can get your own free printable downloads of these two lists by joining the Take Them Outside Newsletter. But, if you’d rather skip the signing up, you can grab them super quick in the Take Them Outside Etsy shop. Just click here to be brought over to the shop!

A blessing in disguise

Wow, so 2020 was pretty crazy, right?

But, from chaos comes opportunity and change… or I heard that somewhere once. Am I remembering correctly thinking it comes from the Chinese Symbol for the word chaos… anyway, the point remains.

We can not control what is happening outside out home. Heck, for many of us we can barely control what’s happening within our home! But, what we still have control over is how we choose to respond and react.

So, for those of us that are wanting to see the blessings in being asked to physically distance ourselves… here it is. Here’s our opportunity to slow down and reconnect with your kids and with the nature around you.

A 2 year old riding a balance bike on a wooded hiking trail
Just tooting around the town trails on her bike

Getting outside when stuck at home

Important Note for the current times: If you have been quarantined or asked to stay in your home by health officials, then, do follow their directives and do not leave the house! However, for the majority of us, we’ve simply been asked to limit our exposure to others, to physically distance.

And, there’s no reason we can’t be distanced outside!

In fact, I can’t think of a more distanced experience than heading off into the woods. But, you don’t always need to find some secluded wilderness.

What about the wilderness nearby?

Do you have any nature trails you can walk to from your home? Is there a local lake or creek you could bike to?

And, if you live in a big city, this article on finding nature in the city might have some great tips for you.

Take advantage of the backyard

If you’d rather stay closer to home and are lucky to have a backyard area, then head out there! And, don’t just send the kids out, make sure you head outside too!

Maybe this is the perfect time to dig out some toys and games from the garage. Or, if you’re really feeling ambitious, maybe you’d like to organize all those backyard toys while you’re out there!

If you happen to live in a warm place perhaps you could set up a backyard campout for your kids. Wouldn’t that be a a fun way to spend an evening? Just haul out the tent, grab some blankets and books and enjoy an evening cuddling and sleeping under the stars!

Need some quick ideas for backyard play?

  • Pull out the gear and toys from the garage (balls, golf clubs, slack line, badminton, Frisbee, bubbles, maybe your old Pogo Ball is still hanging around in there somewhere?)
  • Sidewalk chalk drawings
  • Paint the driveway or fence with water
  • Start digging up and planting the garden
  • Make a new insect habitat
  • Do some bird watching
  • Lay on the grass and watch the clouds
  • Bring out the magnifying glass and bug identifier books and look under rocks and logs
  • Do a backyard scavenger hunt
  • Find some rocks and leaves and make nature sculptures
  • Make a mud (or snow) kitchen
  • Bring out your snack or meal for a backyard picnic
  • Have a campfire in your backyard fire pit

Another great idea would be to take this time to start nature journalling or encourage your kids to start their own nature journals. Pick a spot outside (or on the balcony) and return their each day to record how the surrounding nature looks and feels.

white roller skates with a red pompom
Pull out those old-school roller skates buried in the basement!

Indoor Nature Activities… boredom busters!

You don’t even have to go outside if you don’t want to!

If you’re looking for quick and easy nature play and activity ideas for around the home and backyard check out this printable pack. Have this on hand and stop scrolling Pinterest looking for the perfect activity. Instead, print out some of these scavenger hunts, nature journaling pages, or nature learning prompts.

images on printable activities from the stuck inside nature activities package

You can find it in the Take Them Outside Etsy Shop. And, use coupon code TAKETHEMOUTSIDE for 10% off.

Quiet-time Indoor Nature Activities

  • Print out some nature-themed coloring pages from the internet
  • Pull out all the various nature guides and animal books on your shelves and fill a basket for encouraging some independent reading and for cuddle time
  • Start a ‘treasure shelf’ where kids can display their outdoor finds (rocks, leaves, pine cones, etc)  – add a magnifying glass
  • Set up a telescope in a window with a constellation map or reference book near by
  • For younger preschoolers, put together some nature element sensory bins and collect natural loose parts to play, build, and craft with (think sand, seashells, pine cones, rocks, and twigs).
  • Make a comfortable indoor bird watching station with pillows, a bird guide, binoculars, and note paper.
A preschooler sitting on the floor birdwatching out the window
Spying on the backyard birds

Family-Time Indoor Nature Activities

  • Have your kids help you tend to the houseplants
  • Experiment sprouting some dried beans and legumes in your kitchen
  • Enjoy some nature and science-based documentaries
  • Start reading an adventure-themed novel to your kids
  • Spy on nature with live web-cams or live Facebook Zoo tours (the Cincinnati Zoo has been doing great ones!)
  • Encourage dinner table conversation about animals, science, and nature (grab these nature-themed conversation starters to get the conversations flowing)
  • Perhaps now’s the time to subscribe to the Think Outside Subscription Box for monthly gear, activities ideas, and inspiration to get exploring outdoors

Nature Reads

If your libraries have closed down, there are still many options for e-books and on-line story reading.

This link will bring you to a collection of some of my favorite adult reads – both nature-themed and not.

And, have you checked out the Book Outlet? It’s an online shop full of thousands of discounted books. You might not always find the exact book you’re looking for, but you’ll definitely find some great reads!


Whatever it is that you and your family decide to do with this new and unique opportunity, I do hope that you stay safe and healthy. Try out some of these nature activity ideas and use the 4 weeks in Nature printables as a guide.

Remember, kids will flourish with the opportunity to play and explore and the learning will just happen naturally.

What should you do now?

printable nature activity idea list

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