Spring has Sprung: Time to Help our Kids Re-connect with Nature

During the winter season, we all find ourselves confined to indoor activities which often place limitations on movement and options for play. As parents we likely all have been waiting for spring and warmer weather so that we can do more family activities outside and reap the many benefits that nature has to offer. In this regard, I’m writing to highlight the importance of “green time” and “nature play” for our children. Nature helps kids catch a break from the everyday “monkey brain” they are using for school and routine based activities and serves as a great escape from screens. Nature play can also promote unstructured, freely chosen child-led outdoor play. Several studies have shown the benefits of such play ranging from improved physical fitness, cognitive function, increased attention span, and reduced stress. Additionally, playing outdoors contributes to the development of children’s gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, encourages creative and imaginative play, helps with thinking and exploring skills, enhances and stimulates their sensory system, and assists with the development of social skills. Below is a list of various outdoor and nature-based play activities that can cultivate your child’s health and development.


Outdoor Play Activities (yes, these are traditional!)

  • Hide-and-Seek
  • Hopscotch
  • Tug-of-war
  • Duck, duck, goose
  • Four square
  • Dodgeball
  • Jump rope
  • Riding a bike
  • Cornhole
  • Simon Says
  • Have a picnic


Outdoor Sensory-Focused Activities

  • “I spy” activities
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Bug hunt
  • Sound hunt (e.g., spot and listen to a sound a nature such as birds, leaves rustling, etc.)
  • Play in the dirt and/or a garden
  • Play a smelling game (e.g., smell a flower, tree, herb, etc.)
  • Gardening (e.g., grow a vegetable/herb garden and enjoy the tastes)
  • Take a walk and be mindful of the surroundings (e.g., shape of trees, color of flowers, etc.)


Have fun trying these nature activities together as a family this spring!


Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist