The beauty and wonder of spring provide endless inspiration for play and learning. These six spring play ideas will get kids involved in hands-on learning about this wonderful season of new beginnings.
Six spring play ideas for indoors and outdoors
When spring rolls around, we all love to head outdoors and explore the changes of the season. There are so many ways to enjoy spring’s transformations, especially through the eyes of young kids. Here are six spring play ideas to enjoy indoors and outdoors:
- Cardinal bird art
- Flower petal potions
- Nature picture frame
- Flower collage
- Frog sensory puzzle
- Nature sun catchers
1) Cardinal bird art
We love seeing the cardinals come back after winter each year. Their red burst of color against a bare tree branch is such a welcome sign of spring. We made this cardinal on a branch perch using the following supplies:
- recycled cardboard
- a found stick
- acrylic paint
- craft wire
- glue gun
How to make your spring cardinal
To make the shape of the cardinal, we looked at several pictures online and sketched out the bird’s shape out on a piece of recycled cardboard. My daughter enjoys art, so she found this drawing challenge fun. If your children are younger, or not as keen on sketching, you could help them with drawing, or print out a cardinal silhouette and trace it on the cardboard.
Next, we cut out the bird and painted it with red acyclic paint. After the red paint dried, we added the black neck details, the shading on the tail, and the bird’s eye. We used a photo of a cardinal to make it look realistic.
Once the bird was dry, we found a stick in the yard and used craft wire to make a perch for the cardinal. For the final step, we used a glue gun to attach the cardinal to the stick. My daughter loved this craft, and it still hangs in her room.
2) Flower petal potions
Sensory play with nature items is so much fun for kids, and when spring comes around flower petals are a great opportunity for a spring play idea. To find petals, you can gather some from flowers that are nearing the end of their blooming life. You could also take petals from a fading bouquet or pick weed flowers, like dandelions. Along with your flower petals, you’ll need:
- various containers
- items for mixing and pouring (spoons, measuring cups, we even used a turkey baster!)
- water and food coloring
- any other potion items you’d like to add like glitter, leaves, beads, etc.
Choose play items wisely
Make sure that whatever items you put out for play are safe and age appropriate. My daughters are school aged, so we used glass bowls and glass beads. If you have preschool-aged children, make sure there are no chocking hazards in your play items. If you have children who put things in their mouths, make sure everything is taste safe .
Be careful with your choice of petals
Please do your research on the types of flower petals and nature items that you use for play. Make sure that the plants aren’t toxic for people. Some flowers that are harmful to people are Lily of the Valley, Hydrangea and Clematis.
3) Nature Picture Frame
Another great spring play idea involves picking up sticks from around your yard or perhaps a local park or green space. In springtime, there are often a lot of sticks lying around that have fallen from the trees during winter. This craft makes use of these sticks to make a nature picture frame. Here are the supplies you’ll need:
- Four sticks found sticks about the same size
- Recycled cardboard
- Embroidery thread or yarn
- Glue Gun
- Art supplies: markers, crayons, pastels or paint
Once you’ve found your sticks, glue them together with a glue gun to make the frame. Then help your child wrap embroidery thread or yarn around the four corners of the frame. Lastly, use your frame as a template to trace a cardboard canvas, cut out your cardboard piece and use a glue gun to secure it to the frame. Now your nature picture frame is ready for some art. We used pastels for our drawings.
4) Flower collage
One of the best parts of spring, especially if you live in a cold climate, is the return of flowers. The first flowers to bloom in our area are tiny blue scilla, yellow and white daffodils and an array of colorful tulips.
Why not take inspiration from this new burst of color to create a flower collage? Collages are freeing and fun. You can use so many different types of materials to make them. There are no rules, it’s just about the experience.
To make these flower collages, we used pastels, magazine cuttings, yarn, foam, fabric, buttons, construction paper and more. Just pull out a bunch of your art materials and have fun with creating flowers in different mediums.
5) Frog sensory puzzle
Sensory puzzles are another great spring play idea. These type of puzzles are different then traditional ones with pieces. Sensory puzzles have sections where children can manipulate and play with sensory materials using their hands and various utensils.
You can make a sensory puzzle in any theme or shape using cardboard and a glue gun. We chose a frog shape because we were learning about a frog’s life cycle. To make this frog sensory puzzle, we used:
- recycled cardboard
- glue gun
How to make a sensory puzzle
Start by tracing out the shape you’d like to make on a large piece of recycled cardboard. Second, cut out some strips of cardboard that you’ll use as the sides of the shape. If you bend and roll the strips a bit, the cardboard is easier to shape. Next, using a glue gun, work in small sections to glue the strips around the shape of your puzzle. Finally, you can color your puzzle and add sensory materials and utensils. We also added some frog facts on lily pads, which my daughter enjoyed reading and putting in number order.
Tip: If you have a toddler who loves frogs, I suggest checking out this list of 20 fantastic kids frog books from Mud Pies with Sprinkles.
6) Nature sun catcher
This spring play idea starts with spending time outdoors in the fresh spring air to collect some nature items. Find a variety of leaves and petals of different shapes and colors that you’ll use for your sun catcher project. Aside from the nature items, the supplies you’ll need for this project are:
- contact paper (sticky translucent paper) if you don’t have contact paper, you can use clear packing tape
- string or yarn
- some cardboard or a paper plate for a frame if you’d like one
After you’ve collected your nature items, you can spend sometime studying them and cutting them into pieces to use in your sun catcher. If you can, you might identify the different plant species. As we worked, we also talked about the different shapes and textures in our collection.
Assembling the sun catcher
To make the sun catcher, cut your contact paper into your desired shape (we chose hearts). Next peal away the backing and let your children stick all their pieces on. If you’re using packing tape, you can make a border for your sun catcher, and attach the packing tape to the border. Then your kids can stick their pieces to the tape.
To seal your sun catcher, add another layer of contact paper over the top and trim the edges. If you’re using packing tape, place another layer of tape over the nature pieces to seal up the sun catcher. The last step is to make hanger with string or yarn.
Tip: If you’re looking for an alternative way to make a sun catcher, Crayons and Spice has a great idea for making a nature sun catcher using pressed flowers, crayons and waxed paper.
Learning about spring
Hopefully some of these spring play ideas will generate even more interest in learning about the seasons. Here are some additional ideas for learning about spring:
Listen to a podcast:
- But Why? A Vermont Public podcast on why seasons change
Study up on some facts about spring:
Head to your local library and check out some books on the seasons and what happens in spring.
Spend time outdoors on a walk around your neighbourhood, park or walking trail and hunt for signs of spring. Rhythms of Play has a great resource and free download for a signs of spring nature walk.
Try making our spring bug vases.
From @365learnandplay, enjoy crafting and learning together!