Aldo Leopold Nature Center is closed until further notice*. All programs and events are canceled, including Maple Syrup Fest.

*Please note our date of reopen to the public is based on public health recommendations and other factors.

With information changing rapidly, we thank you for your patience as we determine the right course of action in the best interest of public health.

Please stay tuned and do not hesitate to contact us with questions at Thank you.

Nature Activities for…Anywhere

Nature is all around us.

Nature is everywhere. It’s in our communities, in our neighborhood parks and in our backyards.

There many benefits to connecting with the natural world, including physical, mental, emotional and academic. From boosting one’s immune system and improving physical health to reducing anxiety and improving one’s outlook on life, spending just a few minutes outside each day can have profound impacts on our well-being.

Below are activities you can do in your backyard or at a park in your neighborhood. Take these ideas for a walk around your neighborhood and share these activities with your family and friends.

Please check back from time to time as this page is a work in progress. If you have ideas for activities to be added, please email

Get Outside

  • Leaves, Leaves, Leaves
    Rake the yard and jump in the pile of leaves, have a leaf party (throw leaves up in the air and celebrate) and make a giant leaf nest.
  • Micro-Hike
    Lay down a piece of yarn – 24” or so – and crouch down low to observe all the life along the yarn.
  • Nature Bracelet
    Use items you collect while exploring to design your bracelet.
  • Nature Journaling
    Using all your senses (smell, taste, sight, hearing and touch), what do you notice when you go outside? Search for animals, plants, insects and birds. What is the weather? Write down your observation in your nature journal. Make sure to date!
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt
    Make a list of nature items – using words or pictures – to find outside. Seek and find.
  • Plants from Cuttings
    Use houseplants or cuttings from plants outside to start new plants. Gift these plants to your family and friends.
  • Puddle Walk
    Take a walk and jump in all the puddles you see along the way.
  • Sounds Around
    Close your eyes and open your ears, now many different nature sounds can you hear?
  • Bird Feeder
    Put up a bird feeder or make your owMake binoculars using toilet paper tubes and keep track of the birds you see, use field guides to ID birds and keep a list of birds you’ve seen
  • Make Your Own Book
    your own bird, animal or tree book
    Use old magazines, cut out pictures and glue into a booklet of blank papers
  • Imaginary play outside What do you want to be or explore in your neighborhood?
  • Make fairy or toad houses
  • Find a spot to lay near a tree and look up. What do you see?
  • Enjoy the night sky.
  • Play outdoor games like Shadow Tag and Duck, Duck, Goose.
    Move like animals. Try hopping on one foot, crab walking, walking backwards, flying, etc.
    Use sidewalk chalk to draw and play hopscotch.
    Get your garden ready! Weed and work ground. Start your seeds inside this year and you don’t have to buy starter plants.

    Keep a journal of all of your daily nature adventures.
    Read often to your child, but allow time for your child to read and enjoy books on their own as well.
    Write a letter, email, and/or call a different friend or family member each day- include pictures to raise their spirits!
    Write a story cooperatively. One person picks a character and the other picks a setting and then take turns with the plot!
    Make a reading tent (use tables, chairs, blankets) Read inside or have shadow shows.

    Do an outdoor treasure hunt. Bury the “treasure” and leave clues or make a map to find it.
    Draw or take pictures every day of the new growth you discover in the yard.
    Have your child pick a topic they would like to learn about and dive in for the day!

    Build with sticks.
    Collect a bunch of tape markers and cardboard boxes and let your child decide how to use them. That’ll keep them engaged for a day or two.
    Make and use playdoh. You can find a variety of microwave recipes online. No food coloring? Use herbs and spices to color it and make it smell wonderful. Try cinnamon, cocoa, turmeric, rosemary, or paprika.
    Use playdough to make a bird’s nest with materials found outside
    Gather sticks, rocks, etc. and use it to build creations with playdough

    Give your child child-sized tools like a screwdriver or hammer. Allow them to pound nails into soft wood, old squashes, etc. Get them started first and let them finish hammering. Start screws in soft wood and let your child practice using a screwdriver.
    Teach your child how to hand sew. Use a big needle, hoop and simple stitches. Sewing can be done using old fabric scraps or even paper.
    Observe and record the daily weather. Temperature, rain, snow, wind.
    Plan and build a maze using sticks.
    Use all of your building toys to create one giant structure.
    Family puzzles. Choose ones that are 100-300 pieces and have a challenging but not frustrating picture.
    Sort nature objects found while walking or playing in the backyard. Let your child decide how to sort them and then ask them to explain. (There are no right answers!)
    Count rocks, pebbles, birds.
    Create a pattern with pinecones, sticks, pictures with sidewalk chalk and then have your child complete the pattern (or choose the next object that keeps the pattern going). Take turns and repeat.
    Set a time for 30 seconds and have everyone gather as many objects (rocks, sticks, leaves, objects that are red, etc.) as they can. Look at the piles- which has more? Which has less? How many more are there? Count and repeat. Sort them. Classify them. Then tidy up!
    Build numbers with sticks and then find that many objects.
    Art projects -beading, painting, drawing, kinetic sand, etc.
    Explore with sidewalk chalk outside.
    Outdoor crafts to try:
    Make a bird nest out of whatever you can find in your yard! Decide what kind of bird might live in this nest and why? Birds are coming back looking for materials to make their homes.
    Painting: mud, watercolors, water, etc.
    Paint or decorate rocks for pets or to brighten the yard.
    Make up a song about your outdoor adventure.

  • Do yoga at home. Try this website:

    Use scissors to cut grasses, leaves or tiny sticks.
    Use scissors to cut strips of paper (make strips ahead of time) or if proficient, cut out shapes to decorate for spring.

  • Put on Your Hiking Gear and Try New Paths
    A few ideas…Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Edna Taylor and Woodland Park, UW Madison Arboretum, UW Madison Lakeshore Path and Picnic Point, Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, Blue Mounds State Park, Horicon Marsh and Glacial Drumlin State trail
  • Inside