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Family Play Activity – Nature

28 June 2022

This handy guide is packed full of simple tips to make the most of a play session in nature.

What is it?

It might sound obvious but the natural world has been keeping children amused since the dawn of time, and is still more than capable of competing with a television or tablet today!

This sounds like a lot of hard work… Convince me it’s worth it!

  • This activity is 100% free
  • It’s a chance for the children – and you – to get some fresh air – cabin fever affects us all!
  • Time in nature is good for our physical and mental wellbeing
  • This family activity also doubles as a chance to get your step count up!
  • … and it’s a way to explore your local area
  • Can be a useful way of making a trip to the local shops or an errand more fun for children, and postpone the dreaded “are we nearly there yet?”


  • Although very little preparation is required a good catch-all reason to get out and about in the first place is a scavenger hunt
  • You can choose how in-depth you want to go
  • You could consider leaving clues and signs for children (and other family members) to find at your local park or woods
  • Alternatively, a visit beforehand can give you insight into local landmarks you can write on special clue cards

What are my children secretly learning? (don’t tell them!)

  • First and foremost nature activities promote an understanding of the world
  • Scavenger hunts can also help with literacy thanks to the following of instructions
  • All that outdoors rough and tumble is great for physical development

Fisher-Price™ Play Lab says:

“Nature activities give children the opportunity to develop their exploration skills and, when they’re exploring, it’s kind of like they’re little scientists finding out about the world, so they’re using a lot of their thinking and observational skills.

“Even if they’re just looking at a leaf, for example, they might be considering the different colours of leaves; it provides lots of opportunities for conversations and finding out how things work in nature, so really is a great way to set a learning experience for children”.

Watch the video below to find out more.

Top Tips:

Here Early Years Manager Karen Woodcock from our Peterborough Pre-Schools gives us a few do’s and dont’s regarding how to make the most of a nature session

  • Often the challenge with this activity is simply getting children out the door so feel free to abandon the scavenger hunt once your children inevitably find something fun and muddy to do!
  • That said, a good variation on the scavenger hunt is the treasure hunt, where you take a box out with you and attempt to find ten relics, such as pretty pebbles, strange leaves or even costume jewellery (yes, that last one’s based on the experience of our staff). This helps to build an understanding of the world and encourages children to communicate
  • Rolling down hills is a timeless classic, but it also helps to develop coordination and spatial awareness (as anyone who remembers being kicked by another child while doing this will tell you!). If you’re getting involved (and why wouldn’t you?) grown-ups often forget that they need to keep their arms by their sides. Don’t be the parent who ends up with bruised ribs!
  • Depending on what’s available in your local area picking blackberries is a great activity that allows children to get into some (literal) scrapes. This is a great opportunity to allow them to develop a sense of risk and consequence – blackberry bush cuts and scrapes are the badges of childhood.
  • Ants are fascinating creatures and watching them work is an activity it’s own right and really helps to develop an understanding of the world. However, if your kids take a real interest you can make your own ant form at home for free using a few jam jars
  • It can also be a fun game to follow one ant and see where they’re going, and you can often do this in your own garden or outside your house… Beware – one Family Action staff member once tried this and discovered they were raiding his pantry!
  • The humble stick is the workhouse of childhood imagination, and our workers have seen them used as witches’ brooms, wizard’s staffs, swords, weightlifting poles, car axels and so much more. For this reason a search round a local park for the best stick can be an activity in itself
  • Sticks also come in handy when building dens outdoors, which can be a lot of fun for kids and adults alike, and is a particular hit with parents who are engineers or scaffolders. There’s a really good guide for doing so on the National Trust’s website
  • In our experience children get hungry quickly when exposed to all that fresh air and exercise, so make sure you pack a packed lunch or at least take some water with you if you’re on a budget

Find out more about Creating Happy Memories through play and the benefits it can bring to your child’s development.

Family Action and Fisher-Price™ Play Lab