As the rain pours outside, don't let the gloomy weather dampen your spirit of adventure! We've got 6 exciting and eco-friendly nature activities that you can do right at home, keeping your little hands and minds busy and happy all day long. Let's dive into these fun ideas for rainy days.
I’ve compiled a list of 6 tried-and-tested nature activities. The beauty of this list is that every activity is adaptable so that you can tailor them to your space and surroundings. And they won’t cost the earth – financially or environmentally.
Most importantly, though, they’re good fun for days when the rain just won't stop. Trust me. My daughter is a harsh critic.
Nature play and activities at home
1. INDOOR ARCHAEOLOGY
I loved History at school, especially learning details about the lives of those who came before us. What better way to uncover stories and secrets than with your very own archaeological dig, using excavation ‘tools’ like old toothbrushes, cutlery, and utensils.
Whatever you use to bury them in, a flower bed, a sandpit, or a cardboard box filled with oats for a rainy day, you can guarantee you’ll have some messy family fun excavating, brushing, and washing the artefacts. You could even make up stories about the people they belonged to.
Our back garden has a rich ‘archaeological’ history. We’ve found Victorian coins, Anglo-Saxon pottery, prehistoric flints, and dinosaur bones during our digs.
We love bringing inside our free standing sandpit on rainy days or digging into oats or rice. Use natural food colouring to dye your rice or oats to match your theme.
2. BUILD A BUG HOTEL
We’ve all seen them in garden centres and the craft kits you can buy online, but bug hotels are easy to make from materials you’ll already have at home or in the garden. The outer casing could be a wooden crate, an old drawer, even an upturned flower pot. As for the innards: try using bamboo canes, corrugated card, bark, dry leaves and sticks, and hollow plant stems.
The idea here is to get your little ones making with their hands. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it, as long as they’re creating little hollows, nooks and crannies for the bugs to hide. Position your hotel in a shaded, damp space in your garden. Leave it alone for a week or two, and you’ll likely spot some resident bugs.
3. NATURE ARTS AND CRAFTS
This nature activity is an excellent follow-on from a nature treasure hunt done on a fair weather day. And depending on the treasures you have at hand, you can adapt the crafts.
Once we’ve finished our masterpiece, we put it into our memory scrapbook with an overview of our day’s activities, so we can look back and remember our favourite parts of the day.
4. NATURE WEAVING
After gardening, we use prunings and weeds destined for the compost heap to do some nature weaving. Grasses, reeds and long-stemmed flowers are perfect for this activity, as they’re easy for little hands to work with.
First, make a basic frame using four sticks and some garden twine, or cardboard and rubber bands. Let your child take the lead. If they need help, show them how to thread the leaves through the twine or between the rubber bands, then leave them to create something special independently.
Once their creation is complete, you can save the frame to use another time.
5. PEBBLE DECORATION
Remember those pebbles you collected with holes from the beach? Grab some garden twine, ribbon or string and turn them into lovely hanging decorations. Thread the pebbles through and hang them near a window or in your garden for a beautiful touch of nature.
If you don’t have pebbles handy, swap them for leaves. Create a leaf or flower mandala on a window or table. The word "mandala" means "circle" in a language called Sanskrit, which is spoken in India.
Most mandalas are round with intricate patterns, and they have a centre point. Arrange the leaves and/or flowers in a pattern. You could also decorate your leaves. Use coloured markers or paint to create doodles, repeating patterns, or words on the leaves. Work on a mat or piece of paper to protect your table.
My tip for preserving your leaves is to apply homemade flour and water glue to make the leaves less brittle. Spread the leaves on paper and brush onto one side. Let it dry, then turn the leaves over and brush a coat onto the backs.
If you want to arrange your leaves in a mandala shape on a window. Use flour and water glue to arrange and rearrange the mandala until you're satisfied.
6. POUNDED FLOWER PRINTING
This nature activity requires adult supervision, as it’s a bit tricky but great fun all the same.
You’ll need fabric to print onto (a napkin or pillowcase works perfectly), a hard surface, wax paper or baking paper, a mallet or small hammer, goggles, flowers, and leaves.
Place a thick layer of newspaper over the hard surface to protect it. Add a sheet of wax paper/baking paper and put your fabric on top (the wax paper prevents ink transfer). Cut flowers from their stems and arrange them on the fabric face down. Once the design is complete, place another layer of wax paper over the top. Pound the entire design with the mallet. Thicker flowers and leaves take more pounding, so bash, bash, bash. Check the fabric periodically, and continue the process until you’re happy with the results. Display your finished design.
There you have it. Buttercup’s six tried-and-tested activities that educate, stimulate, and encourage a strong connection to nature, especially for rainy days.
Give them a try, and let us know how you get on. What’s your favourite rainy day nature activity?
Ready to explore more nature activities? Don't miss out on my 35 Days of Nature Activities Freebie, packed with fun ideas to keep your kids engaged and connected with nature this summer.