5 Rainy Day Nature Play Activities

22 Apr

rainy day nature play

April showers may bring May flowers, but they also bring a new round of cabin fever to little ones (and their parents) who have had a taste of outdoor play for the first time in weeks (if not months).  We’ve had typical Ohio weather lately–one day it’s sunny and 80 degrees and the next day it’s cold and windy.

Spring is the perfect time to take an interest in nature, but that can be a bit difficult when you can’t get outside in, you know, nature.  So I started thinking of ways to fill our rainy afternoons indoors while still exploring “The Great Outdoors”.

Before the rain really started coming down, we got our trusty bucket and took a walk around the yard.  Naturally, Matty picked up sticks and put them in the bucket (this is a favorite activity lately), and I started pointing out other things such as leaves, dandelions, and rocks.  We talked about the objects, and then I asked him if we should put them in our collection.  This was great way to incorporate some new vocabulary!

nature collection


toddler nature sort

To begin our sort, I dumped out all the objects for some free play.  As he started losing interest, I asked him to point out certain things, like sticks, or rocks.  At this point, he started realizing their were more than one (“one, two, six..”–he’s a good counter).  So I suggested we put all the alike things in a pile.  We did leaves and sticks first, since that was easiest, then moved on to random objects, discussing their color, texture, size, and other characteristics.  Again, great vocab building!

toddler nature sort


toddler nature collage

Over the next couple of days, we started using our collection for some crafts.  This works better with contact paper (check out a great example here), but I didn’t have any.  So I used a sheet of easel paper and spray adhesive.  That dried up towards the end, so we used a craft brush and Elmer’s glue, which was a big hit!  Matty loved this–it’s like real-life stickers. 🙂


toddler nature creatures

Who doesn’t love googly eyes and pom poms?  I was going to do this alone then give them to Matty, but he was totally into it.  However, he does think they’re owls.  There’s a Mommy, Daddy, and Baby.  I’m not sure who is who, or who the other one is…

nature play


pinecone bird feeder

We meant to do this back in the Fall, but didn’t get to it.  So when we were at Lowes earlier in the week, and Matty went crazy over the bird feeder section, and carried a two pound bag of “brird teets” (bird treats) to the cart, I knew we had to do it.  P.S. I have no idea how he knew the bird food was indeed bird food save the bird on the bag…

We used a knife to spread peanut butter on the pinecones, then rolled it around in the seed.  However, I think he was very sad that bird treats are not like cat treats, i.e., he can’ t hand-feed the birds.

pinecone bird feeder process


nature music intruments

I came across this pin awhile back, which links to this idea.  Being the little music lover he is, I gave it a try.  Forget the music because of course, it’s a cat toy.  What was I thinking?

sistrum music instrument

P.S. Am I the only one who thinks of Melman the Giraffe from Madagascar every time I hear the word “nature”? “Ahh, the nature, it’s all over me, get it off!”

P.S. Happy Earth Day!  What are you doing to celebrate?

3 Responses to “5 Rainy Day Nature Play Activities”

  1. ahealthyhappyhome April 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Love these! We just collected some leaves and twigs on our walk home from the gym and I was planning to do a collage this afternoon! I had forgotten all about the bird feeder idea! We might have to do that too! Just need to find a pinecone…

    • Ashley Niehaus April 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      We have a huge, I mean huge, pine tree in our backyard with thousands of pinecones. I was happy to be able to use 3 of then. Ha!

    • Ashley Niehaus April 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Oh, I also saw somewhere that you can use a tp tube. Might work!

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