Spring break is kicking off across the South...which means the kiddos will be looking for entertainment all week long. Fortunately, living in the country provides the perfect backdrop for loads of wholesome, creative, nature-based fun. Check out these ideas and plan your own epic spring break at home.
Ah… spring break!
After a long winter and the first busy months of a new year, we bet the kids are ready for some time away from their desks. Naturally, they’ll want some down time to rest and recharge, but how can you make sure spring break doesn’t turn into a week of screen-time or boredom?
While formal education is important to your kids’ development, breaks can be the perfect time to focus on other aspects of their health, well-being while making awesome family memories.
Check out this list of activities designed to help your kids reconnect with nature, engage their creativity and get some exercise!
Plant a wildflower garden
Carve out a small space in your landscape for a kid-sized wildflower bed.
Kids love to dig in the dirt and can help prepare the soil and sow seeds. Teach them about beneficial insects by choosing a native plant or pollinator mix that will draw a host of visitors to the garden.
Kristen Boye, editor here at Rethink:Rural, said this project was a hit with her daughter last year.
“She had to water it for awhile (which was a great way to help foster responsibility), but only for a week or two and it created this gorgeous garden she used for cutting flowers all summer. Plus, the garden itself was zero maintenance and it attracted lots of butterflies.”
Enlist their help with the vegetable garden
Depending on where you live, it may be early enough to sow some veggies outdoors. But cold-hardy varieties like peas, lettuce and crucifers will be all-the-rage at the dinner table once kids have been involved in planting and growing them!
If it’s too early for outdoor sowing, get their help with indoor seed starting and have them monitor and tend the seedlings.
You’ll have extra accountability to get everything planted out on time this year.
For more tips, check out: How to Plan and Plant a Southern Spring Garden.
Create a bird sanctuary
Kids can build simple bird feeders and bird baths with household items. Guide them to craft ideas on Pinterest for milk jug or wine bottle feeders. Use old glassware or serving dishes for bird baths and let the kids be responsible for cleaning and filling the feeders and baths for their feathered friends.
Have the kids track the different species that show up with a birding guide or app. The Audubon Society recommends Merlin Bird ID, a free app that’s appropriate for kids of all ages.
Catch a sunset
Take advantage of the less-hectic-than-usual schedule and treat the kids (and yourself!) to a beautiful, leisurely sunset viewing.
It’s a great time to observe the astronomical shift into spring, and talk with the kids about the changing position of the sun in the sky, lengthening daylight and the warmer weather on the way.
Help them connect to the natural rhythms of the earth and talk about the increased activity levels that spring and summer bring for humans and other creatures!
It’s also a fun time to daydream about all of the adventures the year will bring.
Volunteer in your community
Show your kids how good it feels to be generous with their spare time. Find a local cause they will connect with. Do they love to hike? Take them to their favorite trail and pick up litter. Are they crafty? Make Easter and spring-time greetings for local nursing homes or hospitals.
Visit a working farm
Many farms welcome local visitors and have activities for kids to engage in as well.
Call around to local farmers and ask about convenient times for you to visit with your brood. Some farmers are happy to let kids help with feeding chickens or will let them pet goats and horses; and others may have springtime u-pick activities available.
Find a youth fishing event nearby
Many state wildlife agencies hold spring youth fishing events.
In Humble, Texas, for example, kids ages 8-16 can take a Junior Angler Education Course where they’ll learn the basics of fishing. And in Macon, Georgia, kids ages 3-16 can compete in a fishing derby, angling for stocked rainbow trout and other species. Admission is generally free, and kids can learn new skills at these events. Check your state’s wildlife agency web site to find a youth event in your area.
For a DIY version, find a stocked fishing pond or other public fishing area nearby and rent gear for an adventurous family day trip.
For more tips, check out: Tips for Fishing with Kids: A Fisherman's Advice by Grandpa, and fishing expert, Jim Mize.
Find a junior ranger program with a state or national park
Spark your kids’ natural curiosity with a junior ranger program. Designed to teach kids about wildlife and other natural resources, these programs supply kids with activities to complete when they visit the parks.
In the Florida State Parks junior ranger program, for example, kids can complete an “animal evidence” scavenger hunt where they look for feathers, tracks, scat, nests and other animal signs. For completing activities, kids earn badges and patches toward becoming junior rangers. https://www.floridastateparks.org/Junior-Ranger
Create a “signs of spring” art project
If you’re lucky enough to have a country acreage, let the kids go wild looking for signs of spring. Frog eggs and tadpoles in the pond? Green leaves unfurling on the trees? Flower buds and early blooms? Have them take photos and collect bits and pieces of spring to incorporate into art projects.
"Sending older children outside to carefully examine a tree, feel its bark, and study the shape and color of its leaves, and then asking them to draw or paint trees helps them develop observational skills needed for science,” according to the Extension Alliance for Better Child Care, a project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://childcare.extension.org/creative-art-helps-children-develop-across-many-domains/
Younger kids may enjoy creating living mandalas out of the bits and pieces they bring inside. Or they may wish to draw or color other signs of spring like rainbows, lady bugs and tulips. You might be amazed at their natural creativity!
Enjoy the start of this beautiful season
However you and your family choose to spend spring break, we hope you enjoy the rhythms of new beginnings that unfurl each year. Happy spring!