We’ve been inspired by the Wildlings School Forest ethos to “help children build resilience, connection & environmental stewardship.” They advocate that for children to become sustainability-minded, they need to spend more time outdoors to “spark their curiosity” for nature and put the “dirt back in childhood.”
Wildling’s co-director, Vicci Oliver, has generously shared ten fun and down-to-earth activities as well as several downloadable resources to inspire children to grow in their natural surroundings—wherever they are in the world. We’re particularly fond of their Australian Animal Yoga for Kids handout!
Wildlings is all about putting the dirt back in childhood. Children already experience so much structure in their lives, even in extracurricular activities and sports. Wildlings is a space where children can experience freedom and can take developmentally appropriate risks.
Climbing trees and making campfires are commonplace in our programs. Essentially, we can’t expect our children to want to love nature and practice sustainability if they haven’t had a childhood in it.
With mental health diagnosis on the rise and children living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, we believe we need to create more opportunities for children to play, explore, spark their curiosity and push their physical and mental boundaries.
Nature provides all the necessary elements for this. All our programs take place in local wild spaces that are supported by our mentors and play-workers, and in doing so we are able to give children the childhood they deserve.
Ten Activities to Inspire the Love of Nature for Children
1. Children can’t learn to see the importance of sustainable practices and making good decisions for the planet if they haven’t spent much time outside. Our first tip in fostering stewardship in children is to spend time in nature. Go for a slow hike and spend time taking notice of the plants, animals and the habitat.
2. Nature journaling is a great activity to practice mindfulness and to capture our observations. Keeping a journal of how an environment changes over time helps us to see that nature works in cycles and that we need to have a holistic understanding of nature so that we can see the long term effects of our actions.
3. Collect nature items and use these in your crafting activities. Seed pods can become floating boats, leaves can be turned into mobiles and if you find flowers in abundance they can be fashioned into a beautiful nature crown!
4. Upcycle bits of bamboo, timber or even old pots and create a bug hotel! Fill a pot of bundles of sticks, bamboo hollows and pieces of timber with holes drilled into them.
5. Learn about native bush foods. Not only will you connect to your land and local indigenous culture, children will learn about the sustainable harvesting and how to nourish your body through local, nutrient dense bush foods!
6. Better yet, start a bush tucker garden. Learning how to grow your own food helps children to learn about the cycle of garden/farm to plate.
7. Make a bird feeder from a pinecone, natural peanut butter and wild bird seed. Hang it from a tree and learn about the bird species that are local to your area.
8. Climb a tree! Children that climb trees are likely to create a bond with nature, developing scientific curiosity by exploring the world from a bird’s eye view. Not only that, it is great for physical development, coordination and strength and problem solving!
9. Make some homemade seed bombs. Not only is this a fantastic sensory activity, but you can also find fun and exciting ways to catapult the seeds into your garden or local forest to help in revegetation!
10. Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt! You may even like our free printable Wildlings Scavenger Hunt.
Wildlings Forest School was co-founded by Nicki Farrell & Vicci Oliver—qualified high school teachers with a passion for children’s right to play. And the aim to help children build resilience, connection and environmental stewardship through wild adventure and nature immersion.