Children learn first through play. One of the best ways to teach children about nature is through simple outside games. Coming up with some quick, free activities on the fly can be hard, but not with this list.
Nature Games for Kids to Play Outside
Nature games teach about the natural environment through experiences and will instill in children a respect for the plants and animals they encounter through play. These games are appropriate for a wide age range and don’t require any particular equipment.
Follow the leader nature walk
Two or more can play this game. One person will serve as the leader of a simple walk through nature. Nature walks can be taken in a backyard, neighborhood, wildlife sanctuary, or botanical garden among various other natural locations. Participants will mimic the actions of the leader as they walk. The leader should stop to look at natural elements, reproduce the actions of animals seen on the walk, and vary the path of the walk along a safe walking trail. Take turns being the leader.
Nature scavenger hunt
Any number of people can play this game. Kids are be instructed to search a natural environment for objects according to a list of specific objects or according to a theme. Fun themes might involve finding objects according to shape (ie. an oval-shaped rock) or color ( ie. a red leaf). Participants can also be tasked to find specific sounds or textures (ie. a quiet bird or a smooth stone). Objects can be collected and brought back to share or recorded using a digital camera or nature journal.
At least two participants can enjoy this game together. I-Spy is a great quiet activity that can be played anywhere within a natural environment. The game encourages careful observation and critical thinking skills. One player identifies an object of interest, usually by color, but does not reveal that object. The second player asks a series of increasingly specific questions in order to guess the object identified by the first player. Take turns being the person spying the objects.
Many players can participate in this game. A natural theme is chosen first, such as birds, plants, or habitats. Players then take turns naming something that fits that category for each letter of the alphabet starting with A. One variation of this game for older children might include a memory element. Players would list each previous response starting with A before adding their own response for the next letter of the alphabet.
At least two people can participate in this game. Players take turns acting out an animal while the other player guesses the name of the animal.
Animal sound match
This game is best played with a large group of participants. Players are each assigned a sound that will be used as their mating call. Each unique call will be assigned to two players. When mating season begins, each player makes their sound continuously until they identify their mate. Mates will then sit quietly together until all other players have found their mate.
Capture the flag survival skills
This game is played with two teams of at least two players each. While this game can be played according to traditional rules, it is a great night time nature game for older children or adults. Night time play encourages the use of survival skills such as finding your way using natural light and moving without being detected. This game will also encourage learning about nocturnal animals and how they survive the elements. A flash light can be used as the flag. Players should try to take the flag from the other team’s base and return to their own territory without being detected.
There are so many great games to play outside, but try these to get started! Getting outside to play is a sure way to get kids to appreciate nature and start asking questions about their natural environment. These easy games can help facilitate a life long love of nature.