Exploring Nature: 7 Outdoor Adventure Ideas for Kids

Foster a love for the outdoors with these 7 adventure ideas for kids. From nature scavenger hunts to backyard camping, you’ll have them outdoors all day!

Everything in moderation is a mantra that seems quite sensible but when it comes to being outside in nature, there is something very infectious about it. When my children were little we would go to many parks and get carried away discovering and having adventures. It also turns out that it is pretty good for our kids too.

They always seemed to sleep better too which does not come as a surprise as this is a well known effect of being outdoors. When we went camping we never seemed to have any trouble getting them to sleep early. In fact we would not be far behind them, often the whole family would be asleep by 9pm. 

There are so many benefits of kids being outdoors. The first is fitness. Kids run, walk, play and explore more when out of the house. They develop their fine motor skills, as well as their strength and coordination. There are also heaps of research about the calming effect of nature being good for children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.  In one study it was found that

children who were professionally diagnosed with ADHD were able to concentrate better after just 20 minutes of walking in a park. Those 20 minutes in a natural environment were enough to elevate attention performance, which led the researchers to conclude that doses of nature serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible tool for managing ADHD symptoms.” https://www.generationwild.com/outdoor-play-benefits

It is great to be at schools with nature play spaces and whenever I am at a school running an incursion that involves clay we always have a nature walk or meditation in these lovely nature spaces.  We recently ran our “I am Grateful” incursion at Quinn’s Baptist College. The younger years collected nature bits and to add to their echidnas. Each quill in the echidna represents something they are grateful for. 

By spending time in nature and taking time to observe and appreciate it, children develop a connection, curiosity and wonder. It also can develop a respect and stewardship for nature in children that promotes sustainability.

 7 ways for your kids get a dose of nature

Most children, unlike most cats, love playing with water. I swear my two girls get on much better when they are in water together than when they are in water. When they were young they could spend hours in a pool. Games like Marco Polo, diving competitions or seeing how long they could hold their breath.  We have amazing public pools in Perth but if you are stuck at home set up a sprinkler in the back yard and stand back and watch. We have even been sneaky once and set the girls up with buckets and sponges to wash our car!

If you are happy to travel, our friends at Buggybuddys have also compiled this list of Perth’s Best Free Water Playgrounds. https://buggybuddys.com.au/perths-best-free-water-playgrounds/

1. Outdoor Arty Fun

Artists such as Fredrick McCubbin made “plein air” or painting in the “open air” famous in Australia in the 1880’s.  Your children can carry on the tradition easily using nature’s art materials. 

Dirt painting.  Simply mix dirt and a bit of water and you have paint. If you have different colour dirts you can try that. Your kids can use paint brushes to paint onto paper or they could do it on a path…or themselves!

Kitchen stuff painting. There is lots of fun paints you can create using kitchen ingredients. Prepare tea, coffee with less water than normal. Your spice draw also is a source of great fun. Try turmeric for an intense yellow and ground ginger and cardamom for a sensory delight.  When mixing do a one tablespoon of spice to 4 tablespoons of water. 

For a truly abstract and textural paint your kids could use other ingredients such as vegemite, peanut paste, squashed berries. While a paint brush will be hard to paint these things with, a spatula works a treat. 

Water Painting – if the mess factor is too much for you to handle, simply fill a bucket with water and have a paint brush ready. Kids can paint anywhere and it is fascinating how such a simple “paint” can create so much curiosity and keep them engaged. 

Stick and leaf sculpture. This is such a simple sculpture to make. Kids collect a number of different size sticks and leaves.  Then they can start assembling in soil or grass by sticking sticks in the ground. They can arrange anyway they want and thread leaves through the sticks. 

Rock sculptures or stacks are always a popular way to get arty in nature. Its as simple as collecting stones and rocks and then using their skill and creativity to balance and arrange in any way they like. When we do tower challenges, I find that children will quickly come up with a tower. I always challenge them to do it differently: Can you make it taller, using the same rocks? Can you balance something on the top? Can you make a wide arrangement?

2. Picnic in the Park

All that exploring and adventuring can work up an appetite. Picnics in the park are a wonderful alternative to kids sitting at a table. Being a working mum when my kids were little and not being a kitchen Goddess who could whip up a picnic with the contents of the kitchen we often stopped at the supermarket on the way to any picnic. Keen not to confess to my lack of organisation skills, I sold it to the kids that they would be able to choose what we had for our picnic.  They loved being involved and the food got eaten! It was usually fresh bread, sliced meats or a cooked chook with an assortment of olives, cheeses, mini tomatoes, cucumber… oh and there was always a sweet treat. 

There are so many fabulous parks that are in the Perth metro area but my favourite is Matilda Bay.  Our family favourite as it is my daughter’s name and we have always considered it her place.

3. Outdoor Games

We would always pack a game such as frisbee, a ball, totem tennis or bocce for our picnics.  Of course, Matilda Bay is a great shallow swimming for children and many games of Catching Jellyfish, Canoeing and Jumping off the Jetty which was fun until the time my youngest ended up in emergency after cutting her finger on the dirty ladder!

4. Handball Tournament

I visit a lot of schools and I am always fascinated by the attraction of handball. Kids of all ages seem to be into this and at Wesley I am often dodging balls as I lead my afterschool class to the art room.  I cant remember ever playing it but I am sure most parents are aware of it. A handball court can be easy to set up and if you need a reminder of the rules visit. 

Rules for handball https://www.familiesmagazine.com.au/how-to-play-handball-rules-for-kids/

5. Create a Pizza Herb Garden

I have in the past had many a small herb garden either in a small part of the garden or in pots on the verandah. I will confess I am also not much of a gardener but I do remember the height of my gardening fervour when I had a salad garden. The girls were involved in this garden with the planting, watering and harvesting. The pinnacle of our achievement was a salad complete with rocket, cos lettuce, artichoke and very wiggly carrots with arms and legs!

I love this idea of creating a pizza herb garden, read on for this simple yet very appealing idea. 

6. Bird Watching

I realise this is a very divisive one, it seems some people don’t think the idea of “twitching” is as delightful as me. I have promised my best buddy that I will be dragging her on bird watching trips when we retire.  My children will not be tagging along as they seem to have lost their interest in our feather friends now they are young adults.  However, when they were young this was something they enjoyed in our nature walks. 

Western Australia has a huge amount of birdlife at our parks and bushlands and you don’t need to travel far.  Herdsman Lake is on the cities doorstep and guarantees a wide variety of sightings. Great for a sighting of the Black Swan and there is an easy walk around the lake.  https://exploreparks.dbca.wa.gov.au/park/herdsman-lake-regional-park

South of the river, there is novel approach to seeing birds at the Wilson Bird Hide.  A bird hide is often a covered shelter that gives the bird watcher a chance to hide without the birds seeing them. 

7. Night Stalk

Night stalks in local parks can be a truly magical experience for your kids. Team it up with a bit of back yard camping and you have the ultimate staycation.  For great advice on back yard camping visit Outdoor Queensland.  

For a night stalk you will need torches or a head lamp for each person. Glow bracelets or necklaces can be a fun and practical way to keep an eye on everyone.  There are no rules, let the kids lead and see what happens. For children that have not been outside, the noises and darkness can sometimes be overwhelming but that is okay. It may take a few go’s to get comfortable.  

Download our Mindful Nature Walk for ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your stalks.