34 Best STEM Activities with Nature


STEM activities are great to try any time of year. They are an easy way to develop problem solving, team work and critical thinking skills, with engaging, hands-on activities. Typically you can use simple materials for a STEM challenge, including this collection of 30 Best STEM Activities Using Nature.

So take a trip outside to gather materials for your next STEM adventure. From stones to bugs and everything in between, these activities give children the chance to get outside in nature and enjoy hands-on learning.

STEM activities include activities that incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math. The mix of as many of these subject areas the better! I’ve also included a few activities that include some art. Many STEM projects are expanding to become STEAM.

If you are looking for more ways to get outside, make sure to visit 63 Outdoor Learning Activities and an Outdoor Learning Activities Booklet. Both will give you lots of learning activities using the outdoors and all that nature has to offer.

Below is a collection of both STEAM building challenges and STEAM activities and experiments. They all include materials from nature, like leaves, birds nests and more; some also include natural materials, such as bugs and vegetables.

For more STEM challenge ideas, check out, 45+ STEM Challenge Ideas.

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STEM Challenges Using Nature

The process of trial and error during a STEM challenge is important. Coming up with a perfect solution is not the focus. Making mistakes and learning from those mistakes is what is important.

This Clean Water STEM Challenge not only teaches children about the importance of clean water, but also challenges them to create some kind of filter to get a cup of dirty water clean. It’s not as easy as it looks!

Make A Birds Nest STEAM project is a fun way to challenge your kids and get them testing out their ideas and problem solving. Can you build a nest using natural materials just like real birds do? No glue or tape allowed!

Create a natural balance using materials found in nature. They look beautiful and allow children to explore using natural elements.

A fun little activity to get children building 3d structures with just nature finds. Magical, educational and fun.

Science Experiments

Children have a natural curiosity about nature and everything they see when they explore outdoors. These STEM activities can help answer some of their questions.

Science experiments are always popular in STEM activities. Nature provides some of the best materials. Grab a few colorful leaves for this experiment.

Even wondered how trees make oxygen? It may sound like a challenging concept for kids, but this experiment is a great way to show even young learners a bit about how it works.

How do flowers and plants ‘drink’ water? This color changing experiment is perfect to show kids how this works! Take ordinary white flowers and watch them change and transform in a short period of time.

Winter is a great time for STEM. Create some mini snowmen and watch them melt, and then the water disappear, with this hands-on STEM activity.

STEM Activities Using Nature – Science

This is one of my favorite experiments I’ve done with my kids, and students and it’s so simple! Observing animals going through metamorphosis is an incredible learning opportunity for children.

Butterflies are a wonderful experience, but mealworms are easy and also incredible. Also, children can explore more with their hands as they touch and observe their mealworm. Do you know what they’ll turn into?

Investigating flowers on the light table is a fabulous way to use children’s sensory perceptions to deepen their learning. It’s also an easy way to have children look closely and in a whole new way at something they see all the time.

Although this experiment uses eggs, and not something you can find in nature on a hike, I’ve included it because it’s always a favorite. Also, learning about how amazing eggs are is an easy way to show how incredible nature is. We can learn how to create strong buildings and structures by understanding how the shape of eggs are naturally incredibly strong.

Grab a radish from your garden or home for this experiment for kids to watch a radish grow before their eyes.

Middle school students will have a fantastic hands-on experience dissecting flowers and using the free printable to extend the learning.

Pumpkin Experiment

This is a great activity for fall, but the idea of the experiment could be used anytime of year. Children naturally wonder about animals and their habits. Leave a pumpkin outside and watch and see what happens. Do squirrels eat the pumpkin? Watch for other transformations you notice on the pumpkin.

Don’t throw those egg shells out! Use them for the perfect container to grow something new.

Kids will love planting pine trees and watching the progress over time.

What do seeds grow best in? Different soil or sand can make a big difference. Plant and watch them grow.

Learn about leaves and flowers with this collection of playful centers for young children.

Create the opportunity for open ended, hands-on exploration.

Take science outdoors and set up a nature-inspired table to encourage exploration and observation of the natural world

Outdoor STEM Activities

Some STEM activities simply require children to head outside and explore the outdoors, and learn as they go. This outdoor hunt plays like an escape room game and players solve different puzzles as they work their way through. Use natural elements to set up your activity.

Kids love to get outside and explore nature. Family walks and hikes outdoors can create wonderful memories. On your next adventure outside, be mindful of your surrounding and approach your walk with a scientific mindset.

STEM Activities Using Nature – Math

Making math meaningful and hands-on can make it easier and engaging for kids. Use items from nature for this nature math/art activity. Ideal for the classroom or children at home.

Explore nature as you find items to create symmetrical pictures. Children will work on their math skills as they search for items the same size, color and material.

If you know children who do not find math their favorite subject, this is a great activity to get them engaged and learning. Make spitting watermelon seeds more fun than ever.

This STEM activity using nature could be used for math or language. Practice printing the alphabet and numbers with a pencil and paper, can be a good way to help children learn, but getting outside and creating the numbers through this hands-on activity in nature offers variety in children’s learning.

Fine Motor Counting activity – This wonderful counting activity uses leaves to develop early math one to one correspondence, number recognition and develop fine motor skills too. Fun!

Sensory STEM Activities Using Nature

Spending time outside and in nature is part of science and understanding the world we live in. Children are naturally curious. Give kids the opportunity to explore all of their senses through STEM activities.

Explore nature with this sensory walk. Fill bins with materials children would typically not have the opportunity to use their sense of touch with. Then take off shoes and socks and walk through with bare feet!

This sensory walk is fall themed, but you can fill the bins for any season or theme you want.

Have you ever made mudpies? A lot of kids never have either, but the sensory feeling of these mudpies is a wonderful, memorable learning experience.

STEM Activities using Nature

There are lots of STEM activities and challenges that use nature in a different way and you can create something beautiful. Many STEM activities now include art (STEAM). I’ve included a few ideas below to encourage children to explore nature and look at what they find in a whole new way.

Use items gathered from nature to create your own DIY construction kit.

Learn a little bit about how paper is made with this sensory activity. Use recycled paper to create a seed ball and then plant it in a garden and watch it grow!

Take a little bit of nature home with you with a beautiful nature stamp. Find something in nature that’s beautiful and press the clay to create a print. Explore different things in the forest or on a nature walk and compare the different marks that they leave.

Explore balance with this wonderful Fall Mobile made using nature items. You could create one anytime of year and enjoy nature indoors!

Explore nature and sort items based on color with a nature color wheel.

Mix and mash and watch what you can create. Use materials from nature of different colors and textures to create your own natural paint.

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More Learning Activities for Kids

Fill your days with even more hands-on activities. Below are a few favorite, and popular activities for kids of all ages. Whether you’re an educator looking for engaging activities at school, or a parent looking for screen free fun, these activities are great to try out!

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