Nature cutting

Young children love using scissors and it’s so important to give them lots of opportunities to sharpen their scissor skill set on items other than paper. What could be easier than offering your children the chance to practice their cutting skills on yard scraps or items found on a nature walk?

You need:

  • Scissors
  • Nature items (leaves, weeds, twigs, etc)
  • Optional: bins for organizing

Using bins to organize your cut and uncut natural items is helpful but not necessary.

Sometimes children cut just to cut and other times children might be interested in creating artwork with their cut items. We often use a tree stump as our art canvas or a piece of cardboard or storage bin top. If it’s windy, adding tape can be helpful.

Adding a smiley face to your child’s thumbnail and offering the prompt to “keep your smiley face up!” can be helpful to young children as they learn to master scissor skills. Thumbs up for this fun, easy, and free activity!

Banana “sushi” rolls

Everything tastes better rolled up in a tortilla, doesn’t it? An easy, protein-packed snack our sons love to make independently is banana “sushi” rolls. They only use 3 (or 4) ingredients and take three minutes to make.

  • Ingredients:

    • Tortillas
    • Bananas
    • Nut or seed butter (i.e. peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter)
    • Optional: drizzle of honey, agave or maple syrup


    • Smear nut or seed butter onto tortilla
    • Add a sliced banana
    • Optional: drizzle honey/agave/maple syrup
    • Roll it up tightly
    • Slice into bites

    We sometimes sprinkle flax meal, chia seeds, or hemp hearts onto the nut or seed butter for added nutrients. We hope you enjoy this easy snack recipe!

    Tree obstacle course

    Head outside and find a climbing tree to create a tree obstacle course! Find different ways to climb through the tree – Japanese Maples and Bush Honeysuckle work well for young children – and consider adding a rope for more challenges. You can switch up speed, height, and distance for more or less challenge depending on your child’s age, comfort and skill level.

    A few safety rules to consider is to only climb on branches as thick as your leg, ensure safe fall zones, and have a spotter for young children.

    Have fun and remember to hug the tree when you’re finished!

    Tantalize Your Tastebuds: Chocolate-Banana Shake

    At the beginning of 2020, the Acorns class had lots of fun exploring touch (slippery, colored spaghetti!), sound (we filled boxes with items we found on our hike to make shakers), sight (tissue paper stained glass), and smell (containers with mystery scents: peppermint oil, citrus, cinnamon), but we never did taste as a class.
    pageSo, I wanted to share a recipe my kids and I loved making together. When we cook together, I always jot down in the margins some of their comments. I’ll share a few.
    “I like the dumping parts,” from my then 4 year old, his 2 year old brother chimed in with “Yum!”
    A year later they noted, “We like it better with chocolate syrup.”
    And, just to give you a sense of how much we enjoy this recipe, When they were 7 and 5 they said, “I love you to infinity and beyond,” and “This is to infinity and beyond 1700 to infinity and beyond good!”
    And now, for the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
    ingredientsChocolate-Banana Shake
    from Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up, by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson.
    1 cup milk
    1/2 ripe banana
    2 tablespoons sweetened cocoa
    3 ice cubes
    1) Combine all ingredients in the blender.
    2) Cover tightly, and blend until smooth (“until the very loud crunching noise stops”).
    3) Pour into a tall glass and drink!
    Yield: 1 generous serving (easy to make more)
    Note: If your preschooler is struggling with the banana peel, here’s a way to make it easy. Cut the banana in half crosswise and make a one-inch slit down the side of the skin. Repeat on the other side. Give the peel a tug to start, and your child can do the rest.
    recipe in picturesOne of the things I love about this cookbook is that in addition to the recipe in words, there’s a version in images, so everyone can figure out what comes next.
    We’re a family that loves cooking and loves sweets. Just yesterday, my 16 year old decided to make a batch of rice crispy treats! Another classic that is great to do with toddlers.
    Hope you have fun cooking and tantalizing your tastebuds together!


    Camping themed story stones

    Spring time camping trips are a favorite family tradition. Use paint pens to create story stones and retell your favorite camping stories with your families. Sharing stories (both truthful and creative!) is a wonderful way to connect and bond with your families as well as lift spirits and focus on the future when you’ll be making fun camping memories together again.

    Celebrating May Day with spring flower wreaths

    May Day spring flower wreaths are a delightful tradition and quite easy to make. Children of all ages can make these for their friends and neighbors, spreading joy and love and an excitement for spring wherever they’re shared.

    You’ll need:

    • Natural items like flower blossoms, leaves, weeds and herbs
    • A paper plate (or cardboard cut into a circle shape)
    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • A ribbon/string for hanging

    Enjoy collecting a variety of natural items to use on the wreaths. Children may need some assistance cutting out the center from the paper plate but adding glue and the natural items can be done independently for most kiddos. It’s amazing to see how beautiful these wreaths look once the glue dries. A highlight of the project is being sneaky and hanging the wreaths anonymously on the front doors of neighbors and friends. Just imagine the smiles and happiness they will bring!

    Have a wonderful May Day – and let us know if you leave a May Day spring wreath for a buddy!

    Make Your Own Rainstick

    Screenshot 2020-04-29 at 1.50.02 PMCheck out this neat activity to make your own rainstick at home! Take your child on a stick collecting adventure, and then pull together some rice and a clear plastic bottle. We didn’t have a big water bottle like in the original post, but I found an old salt container that fit the bill. We tried a cardboard tube first, but the cardboard muffled the sound, so I definitely recommend plastic or glass if you feel confident that your child won’t drop it! We added sticks & twigs that we had collected outside and poured about ½ cup of rice into the hole. Then we duct taped the top and experimented with tilting and shaking to mimic the pitter-patter of rain drops. You may find you need to adjust the stick/ rice ratio for the best sound. Have fun with this easy rainy day project!


    Making nature soup – fun sensory play for all ages

    All you need for this all natural sensory play is some items from nature, a few kitchen tools, and water. It doesn’t get much more hands-on than nature soup! It’s a fantastic way to explore nature and is easily tailored to appeal to all ages of children.

    The first step is collecting natural items. Bring a bucket or mixing bowl with you outdoors and invite your child to add whichever treasures on the ground that are appealing – fallen leaves, flower buds, weeds, twigs, berries, etc. Then add water and…voila…nature soup!

    Sit back and be amazed by the imaginative and creative play your child enjoys as they “bake” goodies, mix up magic potions, and create concoctions with super powers! Consider offering props: kitchen tools like muffin tins, ladles, and plates/bowls for serving up their goodness, for example. Ask your child to share the story of their creation.

    Pro tip: keep a towel near by and remember: kids are 100% washable and the muddier and wetter they get while playing, the more they are learning…Enjoy!

    Make a Nature Board Game

    Everyone loves board games and it’s a lot of fun to create your very own. All you need is:

    • Paper or cardboard
    • Markers or crayons
    • A die
    • Natural items as playing pieces

    Your child’s age will determine how much scaffolding and assistance will be needed. It’s often helpful to have the basic frame created the first time and let children fill in the colors and details (roll again, skip a turn, go back 2 spaces, etc). Then, let children’s imaginations and creativity go wild. Talk through the way the game works with your child(ren) before beginning to play – a clear understanding of rules will help everything run smoothly.

    Game on!