Updated: Nov 9
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is a wonderful way to connect with nature and reduce stress in adults. However, adults are not the only beneficiaries of spending time in nature. Kids also have a lot to gain from interacting with the natural world. Here are 10 fantastic nature-based activities you can enjoy with children:
Nature Scavenger Hunt:
Create a list of items for the kids to find in the forest, such as pinecones, leaves of different shapes and colors, flowers, interesting rocks, or twigs. Let the kids explore the surroundings and check off items as they discover them. This activity encourages observation and engagement with the natural environment and allows children to be outside, destress, and get some much-needed exercise.
Provide the children with art supplies like colored pencils, watercolors, or clay, and let them create art inspired by the forest, mountains, or lakes. They can sketch a tree, paint a landscape, or make sculptures using natural materials they find. This fosters creativity and strengthens children's connection to the natural world.
Lead the kids in some gentle and mindful movements inspired by nature. For example, you can guide them through slow and deliberate animal- or plant-themed yoga poses, like the "tree pose", "butterfly pose" or "down dog". These movements promote balance and coordination and invite to appreciate the surroundings.
Find a safe and clean area of the forest, such as a soft trail or a grassy patch, and invite the children to take off their shoes and socks for a barefoot walk. Encourage the kids to feel the different textures of the ground beneath their feet, whether it's cool moss, soft soil, or smooth stones. This sensory experience can be quite grounding and enjoyable for all age groups.
Forest Sound Mapping:
Provide children with paper and crayons or markers. As they sit quietly, ask them to listen carefully to the sounds of the forest and draw symbols or pictures to represent what they hear. This activity enhances their listening skills, fosters creativity, and helps them connect with the auditory aspects of nature.
Tree Hugging and Identification:
Teach kids about different tree species in the forest. Have them choose a tree they feel drawn to and invite them to hug it gently, feeling the texture of the bark and the energy of the tree. Afterwards, help them identify the tree using field guides. This activity fosters a sense of connection with the forest's living organisms.
Spot a Tree:
Give botanical illustrations of trees to kids and ask them to find their real equivalents in the forest. This is a fantastic way to teach kids, like the example above, about different trees in the forest. It's also a fun way to explain different botanical parts (petals, fruits) and their biological role.
Bring along binoculars and a field guide to local birds. Challenge the kids to identify different bird species they encounter in the forest. You can also bring a small notebook for them to record their sightings. This activity teaches observation skills and introduces kids to the fascinating world of birdwatching.
Collect a variety of leaves, twigs, and other natural materials from the forest floor. Then guide the kids in creating intricate mandala designs by arranging these items in circular patterns on the ground. Mandalas are not only visually appealing but also promote a sense of focus and balance. You can end this activity with a guided meditation.
Bring blankets and let the kids pick a spot in your vicinity. Lead the kids through a guided meditation session with an emphasis on breathing and deep relaxation. Encourage the children to relax and unwind.
All of these activities can help deepen the children's connection to nature, promote mindfulness, and spark their creativity as they explore the forest environment.
Picture: Chien Sihi, Pexels