Nature is the best free tool for play! If you’re at a bit of a loose end when it comes to play ideas for your little one, the toddler nature activities are always a great fall back in any season!
This post has 44 toddler nature activities that include nature crafts, ways to collect nature, learning with natural resources, combining nature and paint, fun DIY bird feeders, ways to explore in nature, and lots more ways to play in nature!
There are lots of free printables included in many of these posts, especially if you’re looking for a nature scavenger hunt to encourage little ones to get exploring outdoors! So keep your eyes peeled for those towards the end of the post 🙂
Nature Play = Free Play!
Nature Play is great in so many ways, not only because it doesn’t really cost anything, but it is a bit like a blank canvas for children!
The following toddler nature activities play ideas cover both child-led and adult-led activities, but where possible try and let your child take the lead in nature – there are so many ways for them to learn as they play and nature has a way of sparking curiosity in little ones that is amazing to watch 🙂
Here are some great picks form other bloggers that I think you might enjoy:
Toddlers Collecting Nature
These toddler nature activities are really about letting your little one explore and discover the world around them – using some different ways to collect and store new findings and learning more about them in a fun and simple way.
Remember that these are ideas – adapt them to your needs and environment so that it works for you and your toddler!
- Egg Carton nature Project – The Faithful Help Meet
I love this simple way of collecting natural items and sorting them into an egg box. You could do this with colours or types of objects found. They painted the egg box but you could keep it really simple and just use as is.
- Nature in a Jar – Family Focus Blog
This Terrarium (a fancy word for stuff in a jar!) is another really easy way to collect natural items and display them. Arranging and sorting them into the jar is a great task for little hands.
- Sticky Nature Cards – Craft Invaders
This a great idea for nature walks – take your sticky piece of card and add your finds as you go – for older children you could perhaps have a rainbow template and stick by colours too
- Make an Explorer Kit – Barley and Birch
This is quite a detailed project for little ones (more the kind you would make for your child) but you could definitely simplify it as it is a great idea for any aspiring explorer and makes he activity so inviting!
Nature Crafts for Little Hands
This selection of nature crafts for toddlers is a combination of indoor and outdoor activities. Some of the will require more input on your part, and some leave your child to experiment and discover new ways to create.
It is important to remember with art and craft projects that it is more about the process than the outcome. Even with more adult led crafts, allow your child to find their own ways as you guide them.
- Tree Nature Craft – Crafts on Sea
This really simply template of a tree is a great way to start a little one off and leave them to do the rest – simply sticking leaves and flowers as they see fit – a great way to get them outdoors collecting and then creating their own artwork
- Cute Acorn Craft – Simply Every Day Mom
Great for preschoolers, these fun acorn characters have a lot of charm and bending pipe cleaners is a great fine motor activity for little ones
- Fine Motor Lady Bug Craft – The Inspiration Edit
Again, great for fine motor skills with lots of curling to be done for the ladybird spots, you can find all the information for this one in the post
- Nature Weave Turtle – DIY Thought
These turtles are just too cute! Once the template is cutout (you can find this on the website) it’s simply all about the weaving of nature into the craft – too cute! And don’t oroget the googly eyes – the bread and butter of crafts in my opinion!
- Autumn Leaf Sun Catcher – The Gingerbread House
Using leaves to trace around and then making some lovely autumn leaf colours with tissue paper to create beautiful sun catchers for the window
- Rainbow Stick Wind Chimes – Sprouting Wild Ones
Another super simple craft here, great for little ones – who doesn’t love to paint twigs and make them into something beautiful!
- Make a Bug Barn – Mom Junky
Make a little home for bugs with this fun craft. I love toilet paper roll crafts, super easy, and as you can see from the photo it’s all about little ones being creative!
- Spring Flowers Sun Catcher – Gingerbread House
Another beautiful sun-catcher with spring flowers – Great way to display your nature walk findings!
Learning with Nature for Toddlers and Preschoolers
These toddler nature activities are great for extending learning by using natural resources. Letters, numbers, colours and characters all used with learning goals in mind.
- Acorn Alphabet – Crafting With Kids
This is so simple but I absolutely love it. Spend the morning collecting acorns and then use them for letter recognition, matching uppercase and lowercase. or try numbers and counting activities.
- Flower letter Weaving – U Ready, Teddy
This a great idea for little ones learning their names – this is done with initials but youe could do a full name if you wanted and it might kee them busy for a while if they’ve got a long name 😛
- Leaf Characters – Mum’s Creative Cupboard
We had so much fun making these and plan to make them again very soon as it was a great activity for imaginative thinking, creating names and emotions and of course we had googly eyes on our leaves!
- Nature Sorting Activities – Mum’s Creative Cupboard This activity is part of a wider selection of chalk play activities for outside – sorting nature into piles using chalk grids to help – this can be done in so many different ways and in different seasons too
Painting with Nature for Toddlers
Nature makes a great base for painting, whether using it in paint or just using it as a canvas for painting – I’m sure you’ll be inspired to try some new painting with these next ideas for toddler nature activities with paint!
- Sea Shell Painting – Mum’s Creative Cupboard
If you’ve never painted shells that you picked up off the beach then you should give it go, it’s really fun! We glued ours to some wood before painting but you can go any way you like! (And maybe add some glitter too!)
- Pinecone Flowers – Sprouting Wild Ones
These pine cones made to look like flowers are super fun! I love the idea of having a vase of these in the house!
- Simple Rock Painting – ABC Family
Rock painting has grown in popularity in recent years, but it doesn’t have to be about only making beautiful designs, rock painting can be super fun for little ones to have a go at and get messy and creative with!
- Try Vegetable Based Paints – Compost and Cava
I was super intriguied by this post all about how to make aints using vegeatbles and other natural elements – a really fun activity for little ones!
- Pistachios Shells Bee Craft – Crafts 4 Toddlers
These are really cute – simple for toddlers to have a go at (but with some tricky fiddly parts that they may need help with). There’s also turtles on the website!
- DIY Nature Paint Brushes – Apple Green Cottage
We’ve tried a few of these and we love painting with nature – and they mak the brushes so well I just love the idea of using the unxpected for painting tools!
Bird Feeders You Can Make At Home with Little Ones
A really great nature activity for toddlers, is to make a bird feeder of some sort – there are so many options out there – here are just a few you could try!
- Egg Carton Bird Feeder – Little Family Adventure
I love this alternative style bird feeder with lots of different options for the birds – it looks like a real feast!
- Apple Bird Feeder – Art Craft and Fun
This is a super easy roll and stick type bird feeder for little ones to do!
- Heart Shaped Bird Feeder – Our Wabi Sabi Life
This is cute and great for fine motor skills as you thread the cereal onto the pipe cleaners!
- Popsicle Stick Bird House Feeder – Grace Giggles and Naptime
This is more of a project but it’s so lovely and bright – you can buy coloured sticks or have fun painting your own (this one is great if you have older siblings to help out)
- Birdseed Ornaments – Crafts By Amanda
These are based on templates so they’re really easy to put together and they look amazing!
- Pinecone Bird Feeder – Two Pink Peonies
Another really simple roll and stick one for little toddlers
- Mason Jar Bird Feeder – Crafts By Amanda
Another variation using a mason jar this time and hanging it in the tree!
Encouraging Toddlers to Become Explorers
Getting out and about in nature is really important for our health, but it can sometimes be difficult to encourage our children to go out. These ideas will hopefully help in creating a little explorer who can’t wait to get out the door!
- Neighborhood Nature Scavenger Hunt – 4 The Love of Food Blog
This is not just a nature walk, it includes other things you might see in your neighbour hood if you don’t live in a particularly rural area
- Scavenger Hunt with Coloring pages – Simply Full Of Delight
This post has colouring pages and outdoorsy scavenger hunt options
- Nature Walk Ideas for Reluctant Walkers – A Tiny Trip
This post is packed full of awesome tips for reluctant walkers, ways to make it fun and engaging – I highly recommend checking out this post!
- Nature Scavenger Hunt Including Textures – Fun For Little Ones
Anohter fun scavneger hunt except this one focuses more on the texture of things, so looking for smooth rocks etc
- Make Your Own Explorer Binoculars – Crafts by Amanda
Another great Craft by Amanda, complete the explorer look with some binoculars for all the wildlife you’re going to be spotting on your walks!
- Nature Scavenger Hunt – Scavenger Hunt Ideas
So this is another scavenger hunt, but I wanted to include this website as they have a whole range of fun options for scavenger hunts tat you might want to take a look at!
Toddler Play In Nature
So this last category is all about good old play! With some fun activities that you can do together or encourage some independent play for your toddler at home
- Playdough and Nature – Mum’s Creative Cupboard
One of my favourite combinations for playdough is natural items – pine cones, shells, twigs, leaves – you name it we’ve tried it! This tree is made of playdough and we pressed the leaves into it but you could so many other things!
- Toilet Paper Seedling Pots Peter Rabbit Themed – The Forked Spoon – A really fun gardening activity using recycled things, or just a fun way to play at gardening, either works!
- Frozen Flower Sensory Play – Mombrite
This is am awesome play activity for little ones and so pretty too! Melt the ice to get to the flowers 🙂
- Grow a Rainbow – Lil Tigers
This one is a great science experiment from my good friend Suzanne over at Lil Tigers – amazing to watch!
- Playdough Snails & Pinecone Hedgehogs – Mum’s Creative Cupboard
I’m back again with the playdough ideas! These snails and hedgehogs are really fun to make and ca – be sued in small world play afterwards too!
- Playing with Rocks – The Salty Mamas – This is a great example of how simple play is the best! Lots of ideas for ways to play with rocks and some games too – you’d be amazed at how much little ones will love to play with pebbles (supervised obviously)
- Hapa Zome – Thimble and Twig
I’d never heard of this before but it is simple making marks with flowers and it sounds like a lot of fun crushing flowers onto fabric! I know my kids would have oved that when they were younger!
- Seed Bombs for Fun Gardening – Feathers in The Woods
This is a random and fun way to spread seeds in the garden and easy for toddlers to get stuck into – you can find all the detaisl on the website
And there you have it loads of fun toddler nature activity ideas for you and your little one to get stuck into nature with! If you like these ideas, then why not pin them for later so you can always refer back to them ↓
Have the best time with your little ones enjoying nature together!
Louisa | Mum’s Creative Cupboard xx