Even though it seemed that winter might never end on the East Coast, we’re finally glad to be shedding layers to enjoy the feeling of sun on our faces. This was a beautiful weekend to be outside and we treasured every minute of the daylight hours we spent in our backyard.
Longer days mean more hours of sunlight making it the perfect time to explore nature. There are so many changes going on outside as buds on trees transform into leaves and pops of color start to appear everywhere. It’s a great time to unplug and get outside for some good old fashioned exploring.
If you’re looking to inject your outside time with a little more learning, PBS Parents is a fabulous resource for activities for curious young learners. While kids are naturally active and curious when they’re outside, it’s also fun to foster academic learning in fun ways to help further their thinking.
These 10 activities incorporate mini lessons on math, conservation, engineering, meterology, chemistry, and the environment in the most age appropriate ways for toddlers and preschoolers that will have them loving learning and the great outdoors.
- Nature Match— Match up different bits and pieces of nature to get kids moving while having them slow down to observe important details
- Milk Carton Garden Houses— Create container gardens out of recycled milk cartons for a fun science lesson on growing plants from seeds. Don’t have any milk cartons handy? Try growing sprouts on sponges instead!
- Let’s Learn about Trees— As the leaves start to appear on trees, it’s the perfect time to go on a nature walk to learn about the trees in your neighborhood or on a hike.
- Backyard Baseball Math— Teach young fans of baseball important math lessons while playing or watching this national pastime.
- Nature Sink or Float— When the weather warms up enough for water play, a sink and float activity is fun and easy science that can be done with any items you have in your backyard. It’s also a great thing to do during a summer trip to the beach!
- Design a Penny Boat— Kids can engage in some friendly sibling competition or try to beat mom or dad when designing a boat out of tin foil to hold the most pennies. This sink and float lesson also takes on an engineering component!
- Make a Weather Vane— This hands’ on weather lesson uses items that you probably already have at home to get kids thinking about the environment while using math (measuring, looking for patterns, and collecting data) and science by making predictions.
- Flower Potions— While PBS Parents says this activity is simple and entertaining for toddlers and preschoolers, the idea of mixing items from nature in a bucket never gets old as evidenced by my 8 and 11 year old who are currently brewing some interesting flower potion of their own in our backyard!
- Farmer’s Market Math— As spring turns into summer, local farmers’ market are the place to get the freshest local in-season produce. A family trip to the farmers’ market not only allows kids to select the things that they love from the vendors but it can also serve as an important math lesson as they estimate costs and help count change.
- Bug Houses— Build houses for backyard bugs out of recycled oatmeal or other round containers.
These activities correspond to a wealth of content available online, through your local PBS station, and via apps as part of their annual Explore the Outdoors content. Fresh air and time away from screens is always wonderful but sometimes budding scientists and nature lovers who need some down time between their outdoor adventures or inspiration on rainy days when they have to come indoors after too much puddle stomping.
Science and nature series like Wild Kratts and Dinosaur Train are featuring new programming and content designed to encourage kids to explore beyond the screen. Outdoor-themed episodes from a variety of PBS KIDS programs will also be airing throughout the month of April so check your local listings to catch the newest episodes of favorite shows.
I am an uncompensated PBS VIP (Very Important Parent) and receive information, product, and giveaway opportunities as part of my involvement. All opinions are my own.