4 Ways to Play With Nature Indoors

Here in Utah, we all know the struggle of days when the weather does not cooperate with our outdoor plans. Whether it’s freezing rain, extreme heat, or bad air quality, some days it can be hard to get your children outside to play in nature. The good news though, is that it’s easy to bring nature inside to encourage your kids to engage in nature play even on those not so pleasant days! We’ve compiled a short list of four activities and tools that you can use with your children to inspire curiosity, build connections with the outside world, and learn about nature all from the comfort and safety of your own home. The possibilities are endless, but the following should help to inspire some fun, indoor nature play that you and your child can both enjoy in winter. 

1. Story Stones: Story telling can be a great way to create a sense of place with your outdoor surroundings even from inside. Encourage your kids to create their own stories using story stones. Gather large, flat stones that can be easily painted on. Using paint or paint markers, draw objects that you see in your backyard such as trees, animals, the sun, locations, or anything your child feels a connection with in nature. Have your child pick a stone and begin to tell a story about the object on the stone. Continue to pick stones to build onto the story, adding more objects and scenery as you incorporate more stones. Story stones can also be used for imaginative play. {photo source: Frugal Mom Eh!}

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2. Nature Sensory Bin: Create a sensory bin using household and natural items that your children can play with indoors. Items can include rice, pinecones, pine needles, seed pods, or anything you think would be a fun sensory item. Experiment with different sizes, textures, and even smells to create a fun sensory exploration. Kids will enjoy learning about different items and engaging in loose parts play. 

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3. Indoor Bird Watching Station: In preparation for an indoor day, set up a bird feeder outside of an accessible window in your house to view from inside. Create a comfy bird watching station from inside using pillows, chairs, and blankets. Lay out binoculars, bird ID guides, and notebook paper to encourage exploration of bird species and nature notes or drawings of what they see. The nook can also be used as a cozy place to read stories! 

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4. Nature Ice Melt: Freeze natural items in water (either outside or in your freezer) and have your children figure out how to get the items out of the ice. You can supply them with salt, water, and safe chiseling tools and have fun identifying natural objects while exploring the different states of water. {photo source: Little Bins Little Hands}

Take the outdoors inside with these fun activities and watch your child’s connection with nature grow, even on days spent in the comfort of your home! To enjoy nature play in a group setting in Salt Lake City on a day when the weather is cooperating, sign up for one of our free outdoor programs here at Tracy Aviary. Bond with other parents and guardians while watching your child enjoy the great outdoors in a creative way. 

-Megan McKay, Youth Programs Coordinator