Here are some ways for children to get creative and imaginative in nature, whether you have a garden, a balcony or just a nearby park.
1. Grow plants from carrot tops. The leftover tops of carrots and parsnips can be used to grow little plants which sprout beautiful white flowers. This can be done in plain water or in water with marbles/pebbles. It's a great opportunity for young gardeners who don't have an outdoor space as they grow very well on a windowsill indoors or outside. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/grow-carrot-tops.htm
2. Birdseed balls. Using a collection of seeds, nuts and lard and a few other basic supplies kids can make fatty balls and hang them outside to feed the birds. This activity has great sensory value as things will get messy and squidgy making the balls: https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-kids/games-and-activities/activities/make-a-speedy-bird-cake/
3. Elf houses. This is normally an outdoor activity but can also be done inside if you and your children collect materials from a nearby green space. Children create houses for elves/fairies using natural materials. Twigs make a great basic structure for the house and then kids can get creative with leaves, rocks, grass, soil etc to make the rest! The woodland trust blog has some great ideas for more elf/fairy related nature activities: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2019/04/how-to-make-fairy-doors/
4. Egg heads. Grow simple quick growing seeds in an empty egg shell with the top cut off. Children can decorate their eggs and then watch day by day as the seeds sprout. https://www.playdoughtoplato.com/egg-head-planters/
5. Mud kitchen. An absolute classic for toddlers and younger children (and sometimes older children will want to get involved too!). If you have an outdoor space you can construct your own kitchen or use a ready-built children's kitchen and old pots and pans. I normally ask to be invited to the mud kitchen for a delicious 5 course meal. They may not be interested in the kitchen and just want to play in the mud in anyway they like, which is also brilliant! Some good mud kitchen ideas here: https://happyhooligans.ca/mud-kitchen-activity/
6. Bug hotel. This activity can be done on a balcony or in a garden. Children create a "hotel" from different materials which is a space designed to be an inviting habitat for bugs and wildlife. The RSPB has a great step-by step guide: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/garden-activities/build-a-bug-hotel/