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Play Themes to explore over several days and weeks with the kids - #1: Nature

Ways to Play with Nature (Inside & Out) All Month Long

Ever noticed how much kids love a good theme?  A central topic is such a great way to get little ones engaging in all sorts of things – reading, writing, art and (best of all) new types of open-ended play.  Plus planning a few weeks of play around the same topic gives the kids time to come up with deeper questions and learn more.

Announcing MPMK’s latest venture: Play Theme Cheat Sheets!  As we said, playing around a theme is a great idea – the only drawback being that it requires a bit of planning.  But no worries, we’ve got you covered.  At the beginning of each month Alli will be here sharing a new theme and everything you need to tackle it.  It’s one more way we’re working to help make life simpler and the family happier.

To take the idea even further – we’d love to hear your ideas too! Tweet or Instagram your favorite activities for the theme (this month, nature) and use the hash tag #PlayCheatSheet.


And speaking of happy families, how’s it going with our other new series: Happy Family Habits?

Question of the Day

We’re half way through our first 21 days of Happy Family Habits – how have you found ways to share your story with your children?

I am so thrilled to be kicking off our new MPMK series on play themes. Each month, we’ll be exploring a new theme and talking about ways to play and experience that theme with your kiddos all month long. We’ll include projects, books, recipes, you name it.

We’ve been doing play themes at our house for months now, and the benefits have truly been endless. It’s such a great way to connect with your kids while teaching them about a particular topic at the very same time. Plus, kids have a BLAST in the meantime. And who can beat that?

Since we’re in the heart of spring, we’re kicking things off with a nature theme–because April is the perfect month to get outside, learn about nature, and enjoy all the spring has to offer. Am I right?

Play Themes Cheat Sheet: 12 Ways to Play with Nature
So naturally (get it?) when the weather was perfect a few days ago, our family decided to  take full advantage and kick things off by taking a nature walk.  One of our goals along the way, other than absorbing the nature around us, was to gather natural materials that we could later use and turn into art.


Now we’re no strangers to making art with nature. We’ve ironed leaves, dried flowers, and painted with sticks. But this time we wanted to be a little more creative. So we collected whatever (and I mean whatever) we saw: twigs, acorns, stems, petals. We held nothing back. And when we got home…we played. For hours.

Two part activity: Go on a nature hike and make art with what you find - lots of great ideas here

We spread all of our findings out onto the table and got to work–simply letting our imaginations run wild. And above is what we came up with.  It was so much fun to work together, and challenge our imaginations to think outside the box with natural materials. And a great way, I might add, to dive right into nature.


12 Ways to Play with Nature

Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, here are our 24 more ways to have fun with nature all month long:






*Post contains affiliate links


We’re half way through our first 21 days of Happy Family Habits – how have you found ways to share your story with your children?




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Alli is wife to Michael, mommy to Isaiah and friend to their furry one, Hershey girl. Her passion lies in being a Mom and finding ways to bring creativity to life with her family. You can visit her blog (You have your blog, we have Aars) for ideas, activities, inspiration and more.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate April 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

LOVE 15 minutes outside – what a wonderful and inspiring idea – Thanks so much for the find katexx


Alli April 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

Thanks, Kate!


Alicia April 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Love this! I just recently started doing “nature walks with purpose” with my 3 year old and she just loves it. We collect items and take pics and then she paints/draws in a nature journal. Love that you posted more ideas. Can’t wait to try them out!


mpmk April 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Thanks so much for sharing the idea Alicia – love the idea of painting/drawing what you find.


Crystal April 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I LOVED this post. :) Your photos immediately caught my eye and I had to try the craft with my four year old! I took photos along the way and linked to this post. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Here is my post: http://www.sewcreativeblog.com/earth-day-kids-project-nature-walk-found-object-art/

Best Wishes,



Alli Aars April 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thanks, Crystal! Love that you tried it too! Wasn’t it fun? Thanks for sharing your link. :)


PrintArtKids April 12, 2013 at 10:29 am

Love the idea of using nature to create art!


Alli Aars April 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Hope you try it!


rachna April 13, 2013 at 3:48 am

Thanks for sharing your ideas. ..


Nikki August 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

Such great ideas. Thank you so mcuh for sharing :)


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