More At-Home Activities for Young Learners

Dear Shelburne Farms family and friends,

Thank you for all you are doing to ensure the wellbeing of your family, friends, and community at this time. We hope you and your family are well. 

With schools closed in Vermont and around the country, people are looking for places to play and learn, from their own homes, to their backyards, to the natural spaces around us.

Because our passion is to actively inspire and cultivate learning for a sustainable future, we would like to offer you a few activities and games to deepen your connection to nature, wherever you are. These activities are tried, tested, and approved by our dedicated team of educators. 

Feel free to reach out and let us know what other resources might be helpful. We are all bringing our creativity and enthusiasm to bear as we craft a positive experience in the coming weeks. Through perseverance and community we will weather this season and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose, joy, and appreciation.

All the best,

Your education team at Shelburne Farms


Activities for indoors or outdoors

(Click on each title for printable instructions / additional ideas.)

  • Color search: How many colors can you find outside?  Use paint chips or crayons in a variety of colors and hand one out to each person. Have everyone try to find something from nature that matches their assigned color. If outdoor space is limited or restricted, this activity can be done from a window or porch. Some colors are more challenging than others. Where can you find something bright red? What about light green? 
  • Sit spots: Choose a comfortable spot outside or any space with a view of nature, like a window or porch. Sit quietly for a few minutes. You can write, draw, or relax and observe your surroundings. Visit this spot regularly and notice how it changes..
  • Fistful of sounds: There’s a lot to look at in nature, but what can you learn from your other senses? Choose a spot to explore quietly and raise one finger every time you hear a new sound. With spring arriving and life returning to the world all around us, you can even try this from your front door. Keep listening until all five fingers on one hand are raised, then ask everyone to share one thing they heard. 

Activities for outdoors

  • Meet a tree: Family members can pair up for this exploration activity. In an area with  trees, have one partner close their eyes, while the other guides them to a tree. Ask the partner with closed eyes to explore the tree with their other senses. How big is the trunk? What does the bark feel like? Can they feel any branches? How does the tree smell? Once they’ve had a chance to get to know the tree, return to where you started. Can they find their tree again with their eyes open?
  • Camouflage: The ultimate game of forest hide-and-seek. Can you sneak around the woods without being spotted? This game is typically played with a group of students, but you could play it with a family group. One person is the fox, and the other players are rabbits. The fox closes its eyes and counts to thirty, while the rabbits find places to hide in the forest. Remember: the rabbits must be able to see the fox at all times! After thirty seconds, the fox opens its eyes and searches for the rabbits. The fox has to stand still while it searches. When it sees a rabbit, it points with two hands. Once a rabbit has been spotted, it must reveal itself and sit near the fox. The last rabbit found is the winner! 
  • Life under a log: All sorts of creatures make their homes underneath logs. What sorts of creatures will you discover? Explore beneath these humble homes and discover an unseen world. Treat these critters nicely, and make sure you roll the log back gently. 
  • Seed hunt and sort: Seeds come in lots of shapes and sizes. What strange and amazing seeds will you find? Check out the seed scavenger hunt sheet and see how many different types of seeds you can gather. You can also start a seed collection using an empty egg carton. Try to find different ways to organize the seeds (from small to large, by color, by texture). 

See also our earlier blog, “At-Home Activities for Young Learners.”

Written by Simon Schreier and Alice Cusick

Posted by Simon Schreier

April 6, 2020

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