Since the mid-1990s, we have worked with contributors throughout Iowa to compile a list of nature-based outdoor inquiry activities for children ages 0-6. All activities are correlated to the Iowa Early Learning Standards 2012 and were reviewed by the Iowa Association of Young Children for being developmentally appropriate and incorporating a variety of learning styles. Activities range from songs about birds to making creature cupcakes to creating craft projects with leaves to playing a game to learn the roles of bees.
Please note the groups or individuals that originally developed the activity may no longer be in that same role or with the agency listed.
These activities have been divided into six categories. Click below to explore.
These activities are centered on partnered activities between the adult and child. Activities are planned by adults around specific concepts. Adults take on the role of being responsive, guiding, and nurturing. In play situations, adults follow children’s lead. Activities provide opportunities to gently challenge children by introducing a new idea or appropriate vocabulary, yet they stay within the guidelines of developmentally appropriate practice.
These activities are for a group of children lead by an adult. Find step-by-step instructions that break up the larger activity into several portions. There is no set time allotment for these activities. They are set up to move at the pace at which they engage the group (one day, week, month, etc.).
Here you will find a variety of songs that go with many of our activity topics. Children love to sing their favorite songs, learn new ones, and make up their own. Engaging songs help children to remember content and improve their ability to learn new words.
Creative arts abound in this category. Art projects allow children to learn and express their ideas, feelings, and knowledge visually.
Play is essential for a child’s development and for learning life skills. Here you will find games that fit into many nature themes.
Find snack time ideas that are related to nature themes.
We want to hear from you!
We also encourage early childhood educators to send nature-based outdoor inquiry activities that have worked in your classroom or at home to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll review them and give you credit on the website.