There is nothing more precious to me than spending time outdoors with my kids. They all love nature so much and can be kept occupied for hours just exploring a hiking trail, picking up trash along a creek area, turning rocks over or looking for bugs. But sometimes it's fun to come up with something a little more organized for your kids, and that's where these ideas come in …

  1. Start small. Head to the garden store and pick up some clay pots in different sizes. Also grab some soil and seeds. When you get home, decorate the pots with paint, googly eyes, glitter glue and whatever makes your kid happy! Once the pots are dry, put soil in each and plant some random seeds. Your child will love to see his very own flowers, herbs and maybe even a tomato or strawberry plant pop up!

  2. Stay small. It's easy to make a little fairy garden using any old container, some soil, rocks, tiny plants and flowers and seashells. Then find tiny furniture and fairy-size things, and you're all set for the fairies to come!

  3. Learn about life cycles. I'll never forget the year my boys found a couple of caterpillars on the parsley plants on our deck. I bought a couple of glass gallon-size jars at the hardware store, along with some cheesecloth to go on top of them. Once I got home, we made a butterfly habitat complete with sticks, grass, parsley and drops of water. Then we put the jars in a place where they would not be disturbed and waited. It took a few weeks, but one day we noticed we had two gorgeous, blue butterflies that were ready to be set free.

  4. It's a bug's life. How long has it been since you've seen an ant farm? These are fun, easy and low maintenance. Purchase the ant farm, put in the special sand that comes with it and the ants (you often have to order them, so think ahead), then feed and water them. Take pictures of their tunneling progress!

  5. House the birds. If you aren't crafty and/or don't have a woodshop in your basement, you can simply purchase a birdhouse kit online or at your local hardware or home improvement store. My own kids love painting and repainting their birdhouse after it's built, then watching the birds from inside our house.

  6. Feed the birds. We love making pinecones with peanut butter and birdseed. Don't have any pinecones lying around your neighborhood? Easy! Just grab a cardboard toilet paper tube, attach a string to it, coat it with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed, just as you would have done with the pinecone.


Kerrie McLoughlin is the homeschooling mom of five, and chronicles the controlled chaos at TheKerrieShow.com.