Last week’s Discover & Explore theme was “forest” and I was so excited to read through all the posts that were linked up- I love reading about how people explore nature with kids! This week I decided to put together a list of nature activities that are appropriate for toddlers, since it can be hard to find activities specifically for them. I consider children toddlers once they begin walking up to preschool age, so roughly ages 1-3 (of course this varies from child to child). This age range contains a lot of variability in development, so not every activity on this list may be appropriate for every child- use your own judgment when deciding which ones to try with your children/students.
Nature Activities for Toddlers
Featured Posts from the Discover & Explore “Forest” Theme
*click in the photos or text links to visit the original posts!
1. Make a Nature Sensory Board from Fun at Home With Kids
This would be great for even the youngest toddlers to explore natural items found on walks or even the backyard- older toddlers can have more of a role in creating the board themselves.
2. Leaf Collages by Homegrown Friends
These easy and beautiful leaf collages utilize Contact paper instead of glue to minimize the mess- another great activity that even young toddlers can do!
3. Leaf Creatures from P is for Preschooler
My twins (age 2.5) adore google eyes and insist on adding them to everything- they would flip for this activity! Appropriate for older toddlers who are learning about the wonders of glue 😉
4. Tree Blocks from How Wee Learn
I adore tree blocks and this post shows how easy it is to make some of your own. Younger toddlers will enjoy exploring the texture of the blocks and trying to stack them, while older toddlers will love building more elaborate constructions and incorporating them in to imaginative play.
5. Popcorn Trees from Happy Hooligans
I am totally in love with this invitation to create trees with popcorn colored with tempera paint- use your judgement when presenting to young children. I know mine would still be inclined to taste the popcorn, so I might leave out the paint or find an edible way to color the popcorn if I presented this to them at this stage. Leave the activity open-ended (i.e. don’t stress if the popcorn is not perfectly placed on the branches) and it will be an enjoyable activity for middle and older toddlers.
6. Nature Walk and Paint from Green Owl Art
Art and nature combine in this simple activity- go on a nature walk and then let your little ones paint your findings with a rainbow of colors!
For more nature painting fun, check out Painting with Pine Needles by Fantastic Fun and Learning.
7. Forest Small World by My Nearest and Dearest
Older toddlers who are starting to engage in imaginative play will enjoy small world play with natural items. Younger toddlers may not grasp the symbolism yet but will still enjoy exploring the sensory aspects of the different items, so this is still appropriate for a mixed age group. Just be sure to supervise closely if you have toddlers that are still mouthing.
More small worlds from the linky: Forest People Small World by Precious Play
Rainforest Small World by Crayon Box Chronicles
8. Build a Forest by Twodaloo
This idea is similar to small world play but presented in a more open-ended fashion. Older toddlers will enjoy the opportunity to create their own forests or nature scenes with loose parts for pretend play and storytelling. My children (2.5) are just now to the age where they fully appreciate this type of play.
More Forest/Nature Posts from the Discover and Explore Co-hosts
Tips for Hiking with Kids (KC Edventures)
Finding Symmetry in Nature (Buggy and Buddy)
Fall Tree Snack (Fantastic Fun and Learning)
Arranging a Forest (Teach Preschool)
Upcoming Discover and Explore Themes
- Open Now: Fall
- September 18-Five Senses
- September 25- Pumpkins
- October 2- Community Helpers