With snow covering most of the country, it may be hard to believe it, but spring is on its way. From the calendar date to the ever-later sunsets, the signs of a season change are sprouting up all around us. Rev up your kids’ excitement for the great outdoors – and ensure you can peel them away from the TV and video games come spring – by encouraging them to look forward to getting outside. To plant a few seeds of anticipation in their heads for the warmer days ahead and inspire them to explore the outdoors, here are four fun nature activities for kids:
Start a vegetable garden
Inspiring your little ones to nurture and find their nourishment from the earth by dedicating a small gardening space just for them. A small raised bed in the backyard, or a few containers on your balcony will do. To get started now, pour over a seed catalog alongside your kids. Let them pick a few vegetables they’d like to grow – and then watch their green thumbs take root. Order your seeds and plant them in peat cups indoors. When the weather warms and the ground thaws, transfer your seedlings outside and let your kids do the garden-tending.
Go on a nature walk
Encourage your kids to embrace the beauty and diversity of the seasons – and their natural surroundings. Bundle up now and head out for a walk in your neighborhood, a park or a forest preserve. As you crunch through snow, point out the wildlife you see. Is there anything prettier than a cherry-red cardinal against a blanket of bright white snow? When spring arrives, repeat your walk, talking with your little one about how your surroundings have changed.
Plant a tree
One of the neatest ways we can teach our children to give back to the earth is to impart on them the importance of planting trees. The Arbor Day Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring people to plant and protect trees, is a great resource for you. Hop on their website to find tree varieties that will grow naturally in your region. You can even order saplings from them. Browse the tree selection with your son or daughter and let them choose the one to their liking. When the sapling arrives, and the ground has thawed, help your child dig a hole to plant it. Sweeten the whole ordeal by marking each passing year with a picture of your little one alongside his or her tree. Talk about a tangible record of your children’s growth!
Plan an adventure
There’s nothing like a light at the end of the tunnel to make winter doldrums disappear. Work with your son or daughter to plan a spring or summertime adventure. Even if it’s just setting up the tent to camp out in the backyard, your excitement for spending time outdoors will help dictate how your little one responds. Spend time in these last few weeks of winter to encourage your son or daughter to research camping: What will the two of you need? How will you set up the tent or cook food? What wildlife and constellations might you spot? Use this opportunity to inspire excitement for the outside world – and once springtime hits, you’ll find your children are itching to get out and explore.