Are you managing to get the kids playing outdoors this winter? These fun winter nature crafts will help you tempt them off the sofa!
We don’t really see winter as ideal for spending time outdoors with our children, do we? The days are shorter, the weather is often less than inviting, and it’s hard to motivate ourselves to leave the comfort of a cosy house. But in my experience, children just don’t think this way.
As far as my kids are concerned, when it comes to getting outdoors the season is pretty much irrelevant. As long as they’re dressed to suit the weather, they will happily romp around regardless. I think we can learn a lot from their approach!
One easy way to introduce more outdoor time during the winter months is to try some winter nature crafts with your children. Nature crafts often combine outdoor nature play and indoor activity, making them perfect for unpredictable weather and limited daylight. You can also use some winter jokes or ice puns to keep everyone smiling.
Here are some of our favourite easy nature crafts for kids that are perfect for winter.
Easy winter nature crafts for kids
Mason jar lanterns
This is the perfect nature activity if you want to combine some outdoor time with a cosy craft. DIY lanterns are really easy to make too – my post on leaf mason jar lanterns shows you how to do it.
Twig craft: winter forest picture
This is a lovely, simple nature craft activity that takes advantage of all the twigs lying around in winter. Start off by combining a trip outdoors to the park with a stick hunt. Explain to children that they need to find a nice variety of shapes and sizes, so they can create a winter forest picture when they get home. In my experience you may need to give them an idea of maximum stick size – unless you’d prefer a really big picture!
Once you have your stick haul, you can glue them one by one to a piece of thick paper or card using *PVA glue. The aim is to re-create a winter forest of bare branches. Children can draw in details such as woodland creatures, toadstools and weather once everything is dry. It’s lots of fun to create a night-time scene too, this works well on *blue card with white details.
This is a great activity for those days when you need to make a walk more exciting!
Before you head outdoors, ask the kids to make themselves a bingo sheet, listing items that they think they will spot in nature. The idea is to focus on things you’re likely to find in winter, so for example, this could be berries, an evergreen tree, animal tracks, frost or a robin. 10 to 12 items works well for us, and we like to do a little drawing of each item too.
When an item is spotted, kids can cross it off their sheet – so remember to take a pencil with you! It’s nice to have a chat about why you’re able to see each item at this time of year, as this inevitably leads into a discussion about how nature responds to and copes with the seasons.
For a nature hunt with a Christmas theme, download my free printable Christmas nature scavenger hunt.
Homemade bird feeders
Providing a winter food source for birds is not only a great way to help your local wildlife, encouraging birds to visit your garden will supply you with plenty of interest during the winter months.
Making your own fat cake bird feeders is a simple craft activity that kids can easily get involved with. Take a look at my homemade bird feeders blog post for a step-by-step guide. You can also check out my easy DIY bird feeders post for some variations on shapes.
Another nice idea for a homemade bird feeder is to hollow out a pumpkin, squash or orange, fill it up with bird seed, and hang it from a tree. My pumpkin bird feeder tutorial shows you how to do it.
You can extend this activity by encouraging children to monitor their feeders and make a diary of the variety of birds that visit. We were so surprised at how many species we had on our doorstep!
You can also use a pumpkin to make a super-cute pumpkin fairy house:
Winter journey stick
A journey stick is essentially a memento of a nature walk, featuring fallen items collected whilst on the walk – no picking from plants! These might be leaves, twigs, flowers, berries, feathers or anything else natural that you find along the way.
Younger children can use a rectangular piece of cardboard with *double sided tape attached to secure items to the card. Older children can make a journey stick the traditional way, by choosing a stick and attaching items to it using *string or wool. It’s a very simple nature craft requiring very little preparation, and you can build it into any outdoor exploration. I love the idea of making journey sticks from each season and getting children to compare what nature has to offer at different times of year.
Pine cone decorations
If you’re crafting with nature in the run-up to Christmas, pine cones are fantastic for creating lovely homemade decorations. You could go on a nature hunt to find your pine cones, or they’re easy to pick up from craft suppliers *online.
Grow your own for kids: sow winter salad
Children love sowing seeds and watching them grow, and you can still get them planting in winter if you choose the right seeds.
Winter salad is a brilliant option for colder weather; it’s easy to plant and quick to grow. Italso gives you an opportunity to teach children about where food comes from and the importance of healthy eating. My growing salad with kids post has full instructions on how to do it. You can buy mixed packets of winter-hardy salad seeds from garden centres or *online. They usually include varieties such as rocket and mizuna.
For an extra craft activity children can decorate their own plant pot or *wooden plant labels. This also helps you keep track of which pot belongs to which child!
DIY winter nature garland
This is a lovely way to capture the season in a quick and easy craft. It’s similar to the idea of making a journey stick, but instead of winding your treasures onto a stick, you tie them onto a piece of string when you get home and hang it up indoors.
We’ve found that berry clusters, twigs, evergreen leaves and feathers all tie on and stay put really well. You can also add in things you have at home, such as *cinnamon sticks or *dried orange slices, to give your garland a lovely scent.
Fun gardening: planting a winter container
Winter bedding plants are great for giving your garden an injection of colour, and planting up a pot of them is a fun activity that will keep kids busy outdoors. If you use a terracotta pot they can also decorate it with paints or chalks.
Pansies, violas, cyclamen, ivy and heather are all great options for creating a colourful winter display. You could also use evergreen grasses to add foliage, texture and height. My post on winter plants for pots has lots of great plant suggestions.
Heart themed nature crafts for Valentine’s Day
How about spreading the love with some heart nature collages? This is a nice way to combine a nature walk to collect your materials with some indoor play when the weather isn’t very inviting.
My post on heart nature crafts has three fun ideas for kids to try.
More nature craft inspiration
For more nature crafts and kids nature activities, check out my book ‘A Year of Nature Craft and Play’, which is all about getting kids engaged with nature. It’s filled with fun crafts, gardening, games, art and science activities that inspire kids to get creative with nature and explore the amazing natural world. There are 52 budget-friendly activities, one for every week of the year, all with easy-to-follow instructions and colourful photos.
There are also some lovely ideas in this video:
And if you want to be super-organised, have a look at my posts on heart nature crafts for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day nature crafts, Easter nature crafts, spring nature crafts for kids and autumn nature crafts. You might like my free printable of ideas for exploring nature with children too.
Winter has so much to offer when it comes to outdoor nature activities. I hope these easy crafts for kids have inspired you to grab your warm clothes and get outdoors!
What are your favourite winter nature crafts?