Outside Fun For Kids

Are you trying to get your kids outside as much as possible before the rain, snow and cold weather sets in? Or maybe you live somewhere warm that has just now burned off the heat of the summer and you are ready to enjoy the fall weather!  I brought together some of our favorite outside activities for kids for you to try and enjoy while the weather co-operates!

Spray Painting

Toddler  Olympics

Driveway Graffiti

Backyard Car Wash

Leaf Hunt and Scrap Book

Sound Safari !

Gardening With Kids and Giveaway!

Today’s guest post is from Valerie  the author of Frugal Family Fun Blog where  she writes daily about her obsession with inexpensive crafts, family activities, and all around good times on a budget! For the past couple of years, her family has rented a 600 square foot garden plot from her township that proved to be an endless source of learning opportunities for her daughter Emily.
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Getting Started In early Spring, we had lots of fun starting seeds indoors! This helped to give Emily an appreciation for how long it takes plants to grow. She took very good care of her seedlings.

Next, we planted seeds and transfered some of the seedlings over to the garden plot. We found it helpful to have a kid-friendly garden layout, so as to avoid any little feet accidently squashing plants. Some good options include: raised beds, container gardening, or going with a square foot garden layout.

Kid-Friendly Garden Ideas

1. Raised Beds

2. Container Gardening

3. Square Foot Garden Layout

We chose to go with a square foot layout, which gave us plenty of vegetables and was a clear way for Emily to navigate her way around the garden without fear of stepping on any of the seedlings.

To be even more kid-friendly, we even gave Emily her very own space within our lot where she could grow whatever vegetables or flowers she wanted. She chose lots of broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, and marigolds!

If possible, give your child his/her own special garden space!

Ten Gardening Chores Kids Can Do:

  1. Planting Seeds
  2. Making Seed Markers
  3. Watering Plants
  4. Weeding (with supervision)
  5. Harvesting Vegetables
  6. Loosening Soil
  7. Laying Down Straw
  8. Decorating the Garden (handmade mobiles, pinwheels, banners, etc.)
  9. Picking off bugs.
  10. Collecting Seeds for Next Year’s Garden

Garden Themed Books! Of course, we took advantage of our local public library as much as possible over the course of the Summer. Our favorite “garden” reads are The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss….

….and Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.

Garden Crafts!
Some of our favorite garden activities were making garden stones using quick dry cement, an empty cereal box for a mold, and decorating with glass gems and sea shells…..

….and decorating a photo frame with dried beans (which Emily learned are also seeds). There are many more gardening craft ideas on Frugal Family Fun Blog too!

With lots of hard work, our garden was in full bloom!

Gardening is one of the best ways for kids to learn about where their food comes from, basic plant biology, and exposes kids to nature. As an added bonus, we saved lots of money by growing our own organic vegetables! I made a fun garden goody bag for Emily to harvest her vegetables in, and it was a great hit! I love to share good things, so I thought you might like one too!

Now the fun part — One lucky reader will win a personalized garden goody bag, similar to the one shown above! To enter, leave a comment on this post and be sure to leave your email address in the comments field. Giveaway is open to all US and Canadian residents. Winner will be chosen by random.org and giveaway ends Saturday, June 19th @ 6:30PM EST.

Good luck!!

Congrats Luna!!  You Won. Check your email !

Leaf Scrapbook

Leaf Scrapbook

Today’s post is from contributing writer Katy Bird, who reminds us just how simple it can be to explore science and  the natural world around us.  Get some fresh air, and explore with your child, even if your adventure goes no further than your own backyard.
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We were recently studying plants and so we decided to make a leaf scrapbook.  This activity was a huge hit and I think it could be adapted for children of almost any ability level.
First you take a walk–we just went around the yard, but you could go further if you need/want to.
Leaf Craft
Collect leaves–try to collect leaves from plants that you recognize.  This was pretty easy for us since my husband is a gardening nut, but you can always do a little online research if you needed.
Leaf Craft
Create a Leaf Scrapbook.  Paste a leaf on each page of your scrapbook and then label each with its name.
Leaf Scrapbook
Allow your child to do as much of the creating as they are capable. Take time to go over your scrapbook with your child–talk about color, size, and texture.
I ended up laminating Charlie’s cards because he LOVES to put things in his mouth and I was afraid he might eat one of the leaves!  This could work just as well with note cards or heavy paper.  I especially like this activity because it gets kids started on the basics of science in a way that is fun and interactive.

You could do this activity with flowers as well.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Driveway Graffiti

After you read about this awesome outdoor activity from contributing writer Kim you will be saying just want I did when I first read it, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  and “I am so going to do this like tomorrow!”

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Now that the weather is great, we are outside all of the time.  I am always looking for fun ways to learn and explore outdoors.  But when we just play in the driveway, it can get a little boring after a while.  So I tried this with the kids and it was a HUGE hit.

You need a bowl, corn starch, water, food coloring, a stick or spoon to stir, and a tennis ball.

Pour some cornstarch in the bowl and add water until it reaches the consistency you would like.  I wanted it to about the same as milk.  Add lots and lots of food coloring.  When the “paint” dries it lightens up a lot.

Now roll your ball in the paint.

Then bounce the ball around.  The kids got a kick out of the bounce marks the balls left behind.

I just stood back and watched them explore and experiment with the paint and the ball.  My son rolled the ball across the driveway.  They bounced the balls with varying forces and noticed a difference in the spots left behind.

Now this is a messy activity.  The paint got on their clothes, but it washed out.  I would strongly recommend wearing play clothes, just in case.  The kid’s hands did turn bright blue.  After a few washings the color came off.

It was a great time and great for all ages (even big kids).  My toddler got to learn and experiment with cause and effect.  My preschooler learned about the reaction that different levels of forces put on the ball.  We talked about the cornstarch dissolving in the water.  We talked about the food coloring changing the paint.  This activity was a wealth of scientific knowledge.  The kids had so much fun with it, too.

The project soon evolved into dipping our hands in the paint and making handprints on the driveway and porch.  My son poured out some paint into a puddle on the driveway and then rode his bike through it.  He got a huge kick out of the different tracks that his bike vs. his big wheel made.

It was fun to watch my children explore possibilities and try out different ideas.  I just sat back and let them learn.  And they thought they were just playing.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Find and Count Bug Hunt

find & count bug hunt nature activity

Math and science all together is my kind of activity, but when it’s fun it’s even better. We have all been a little cranky around here and when that happens one of the best ways to shake off the fuss is to go outside! So I made a quick check list and we were off to find creepy crawlers and tally up what we found!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clip board, a marker and a piece of paper. If you want grab a magnifying glass and a plastic jar if you want to collect what you find.Find and Count Bug Hunt
  2. Make a simple check list with bugs you normally find in your yard. It’s okay if you don’t find some of the things on your list but if you come up completely empty handed that would be a huge bummer. So take their suggestions but fill in some gaps if all they suggest are lions, and tigers and bears! Unless you have those in your yard. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  3. We drew pictures as well as spelled out the words.
  4. Out you go! Start searching!

    Find and Count Bug Hunt

  5. Make little check marks for the bugs/ creatures you find. We took turns. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  6. Here he is counting and yelling out the number of ants he saw and I tallied them. ( which reminds me I need some Dr.Bronner’s to get rid of said ants). Find and Count Bug Hunt
  7. He’s pointing to the  snake we found! Find and Count Bug Hunt 010
  8. Together count up your discoveries. Find and Count Bug Hunt

The best learning for young children are experiences they can do, and if they are resistant to something at the table, get outside ! You will both be happier and the lesson whatever it is will make a much larger impact than anything you had to force or cajole!Find and Count Bug Hunt

Bug Books!

Ant's Day Off

An Ant’s Day Off by Bonny Becker is an interesting tale about an ant who has lived his whole life never seeing the sky , or anything beyond the tunnels he works in until one day he decides to take the day off. The text was a little long for my son who kept flip flopping on my bed, but he didn’t want me to close the book either. The story was solid though, my favorite part was when he tried to return to his tunnel and the guard he expected to give him heck, was supportive and even shared that he too has taken a day off.

The Very Quiet Cricket

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is one of my favorites and I am a little shocked this is the first time I have reviewed it here. The story is all about a little cricket who is trying and trying to chirp like the others to talk to all the bugs talking to him but he can’t!  Whenever I read it to children ( and it was a classroom favorite too) I would wiggle my shoulders like I was trying to rub my wings together just like the cricket. Kids latched on to that and I loved seeing them so engaged by the repetitive but never boring book. I thought seeing 12 little 3 year olds wiggling was precious but one little 3 year old is pretty cute doing it too!  Of course there is a “surprise” at the end that toddlers and preschoolers alike will love.

The Gentleman Bug

The Gentleman Bug by Julian Hector is a story about a bug but not just any bug a proper gentleman one who lives in the Garden, the Garden being a bug version of London. One day a lady bug comes to town and he is smitten. He tries to get her attention but falls flat. As it turns out though they do have something in common, a love of books and that brings them together in the end.  I liked the details of this book, the illustrations were wonderful and the map of the garden in the inside cover was awesome but the story fell a little flat.  I am eager to read the author’s other works though because I think there was potential it just wasn’t quite a home run.

Need more bug themed activities?
Check all of ours out