The great outdoors is one big toybox!
June 2, 2010 12:44 AM   Subscribe

When you were a kid, what games did you play that involved nature?

Examples of what I'm looking for would be stuff like...
  • Climbing trees
  • Playing poohsticks
  • Making daisy chains
  • Looking for four leaf clovers
  • Making whistles out of grass
  • Building snowmen
  • Racing snails
  • "Here's a tree in summer"
  • Making crowns out of willow branches
Bonus points for stuff that requires no preparation or additional materials beyond those found outdoors. (Although if you have blueprints for the World's Best TreehouseTM feel free to post them for posterity.)
posted by the latin mouse to Science & Nature (57 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
posted by orthogonality at 12:58 AM on June 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hide and go seek.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:12 AM on June 2, 2010

Does collecting fireflies count? Butterflies? Minnow with our hands?

What about rotten-log-ology (Turning over old logs in woods to see what is under them, then breaking them apart to see how they crumble and to find more things inside. Adult instruction in using a shod foot to do this is very important.)
posted by Some1 at 1:13 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I constructed tiny cities out of eucalyptus seeds and pebbles and other bits.

I re-routed the flow of small streams of water by making dams and canals.

My friend and I buried dead insects in a tiny graveyard with markers made of stones and sticks.

I smudged flower petals on pieces of light-colored bark, trying to paint with them.

I wove pine needles into small wreaths and tried to make little baskets with them.

I mimicked dove calls by hand whistling to see if I could get them to respond.
posted by dreamyshade at 1:14 AM on June 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

Skipping stones!
posted by SoftRain at 1:21 AM on June 2, 2010

Making pet rocks, and racing sticks down the creek with a friend.
posted by danceswithlight at 1:28 AM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: Just to clarify, things like Doctors or Hide & Seek that could just as easily be played indoors are not what I'm after. I'm looking to build a decent sized list of games and activities where nature is a necessary component.

And dreamyshade, your insect graveyard sounds both morbid and adorable. Morbidorable, even.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:35 AM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Making dolls out of flowers and toothpicks (like lilies or hibiscus etc)
Pressing dried flowers
Mud pies
Pretending a place was Cair Paravel
"Hunting" rabbits (really just walking, really, really quietly, and listening for animals)
Giving beer to snails and slugs (actually I think this is to kill them, but it was a fun day)
Keeping a nature diary, complete with drawings and dried samples, of the things I'd noticed
Studying/touching bugs and worms. Roly polys are especially good.
Growing gourds and winding string around them so they grow to ridiculous shapes
Gardening, generally
posted by acidic at 1:41 AM on June 2, 2010

Leaf Races, played in the gutters or creeks(streams) after a downpour.

Or we'd just run through the bush, imagining that the evil Charlie Bears were after us.
posted by robotot at 1:55 AM on June 2, 2010

Creating a house underneath a perfectly shaped bush.
Sliding down hills on a tray.
Definitely played poohsticks!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:57 AM on June 2, 2010

Using piles of recently mowed grass to lay out "rooms" with doors and windows. Then we got more elaborate and made mazes.

Piling up fallen leaves in the autumn, running at them from a goodly distance, and enjoying the big scatterings and explosion of leaves all around.

Digging in dirt paths or backyards for bits of broken china and glass (this may be far more of an English thing) and collecting the interesting bits.
posted by vickyverky at 2:01 AM on June 2, 2010

•Snow Forts!
•Catching and raising tadpoles to frogs.
•Catching and tending to caterpillars until they cocoon and then seeing what kind of moth or butterfly they were.
•Digging up an ant nest all the way down to the queen. Tried to make an ant farm, but it was a failure.
•On my 1/4 mile hike to the bus stop during winter, I and my neighbors endeavored always to be the first out, so as to be the one who could break the ice on all the puddles on our dirt road.
•In spring, on the way home from the bus, the thing to do was to break off branches from the pussy willow tree, full of fuzzy buds, to bring to our mothers.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:18 AM on June 2, 2010

Staring matches with cows.
posted by rongorongo at 2:37 AM on June 2, 2010

Raking a maze/paths through the fallen leaves in the woods behind our house. Sort of the outdoor version of drawing a totally awesome fort, "This tree is where the missiles are!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:56 AM on June 2, 2010

Not being Japanese I never made a dorodango, but a friend did and it sounds like fun. As discussed previously on the blue.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:00 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Climbing trees.
Sucking the nectar out of certain flowers.
Using large rocks to break other large rocks.
Catching tadpoles.
Catching insects to keep as pets.
Tunnelling around in the underbrush.
Building miniature bonfires out of twigs and dried leaves.
Digging holes in the ground for fun, and occasionally, like vickyverky, coming across bits of broken pots.

Imagination could really turn almost anything into an adventure for me, at the time.
posted by nihraguk at 3:03 AM on June 2, 2010

Rolling down grass hills
Playing with sand at the beach (sandcastles, digging, burrying)
Making wishes on dandelions
Sucking the nectar out of honeysuckle
Trying to write or draw with things like grass and tree bark
Cloud watching and star gazing
Listening for patterns in the sounds made by insects and birds
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:17 AM on June 2, 2010

tree swing over the water - splash
sailing, sailing races
golf, although that is a very artificial sort of nature
cross country
tree forts
underground forts
catching bugs
cataloging flowers, leaves etc.
guessing birds by their sounds
snowball fights, with ramparts
many of what other people did above
posted by caddis at 4:23 AM on June 2, 2010

Catching fireflies in mason jars and using them as night lights. Stomping on bumble bees in clover patches. (Took the "baby bumble bee" song too literally.) Making hair accessories out of flowers. Blowing dandelion seeds everywhere, pretending they are snow/magic fairy dust. Using unbloomed dandelion buds as "poppers" by tying a knot in the stem and popping the head off. Chasing chickens. Eating grass.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 4:26 AM on June 2, 2010

Building "buggy houses" - you have no idea how many hours of my life have been devoted to this - which are stick-frame houses with leaf, bark or moss roofs, with furniture made of any natural materials available (pinecone bedposts, mica tabletop, seashell bathtub, acorn drinking glasses, etc), and left for bugs/fairies/woodland creatures of any type to enjoy...

Holding snails or hermit crabs and trying to "tame" them so they would be "friendly" (ie stick their heads out of their shells)

Finding wild mint and drying it on rocks in the sun

Making elaborate houses for caterpillars out of cereal boxes and bits of screening, then looking up what the caterpillar's favorite food is, and putting one in the box with a big leafy branch to see if I could watch it make a chrysalis and become a butterfly (they invariably found an escape from my box)

Sitting very quietly to count how many different things I can hear, or, sitting by the edge of a pond and counting how many tiny life forms I can see after observing for a while

Climbing trees during storms and feeling the whole structure sway around

Exploring any sort of very dense underbrush for little spaces in side, setting up secret special places in there or looking for places animals had slept

Collecting wildflowers (I was carefully instructed not to pick the rare or endangered ones!)

Putting on waist-high boots and going to a peeper-frog pond late at night with a flashlight to catch frogs and observe them (also involved enjoying fireflies)

Owling - going out late at night and walking VERY QUIETLY through the woods, making owl calls with my hands, listening for real owls

All kinds of imaginary games alone,like being Queen of a rocky bower in a small stream, being a tree-dwelling creature, being a spy sneaking through the jungle, and with others, like hide and seek, capture the flag, "Calvinball", and all sorts of games my sister and our friends invented
posted by Cygnet at 4:28 AM on June 2, 2010

My friends and I spent a lot of time in the woods behind my parents' house when I was a kid, but I'm not sure I could claim that most of what we did was organized enough to call it a "game". We were an imaginative group of kids, and the woods was whatever we needed it to be. We basically just sort of screwed around back there for hours at a time.

Most kids don't need much in the way of instruction to have fun outside, particularly if "outside" involves more than just a stretch of open grass--though even that has possibilities. Stick a well-adjusted six-year old in a halfway-decent copse of trees and just see what happens.
posted by valkyryn at 4:49 AM on June 2, 2010

I don't know what it was called, but I remember a structured predator/prey game (requires a bunch of people) where you're assigned to be a rabbit, mouse, squirrel, etc. or a fox, weasel, etc. More fluffy herbivores then crafty killers (by a 2 to 1 ratio). "Food" (pieces of paper or whatever) is hidden around a playing area. The herbivores have to hide from the carnivores and venture out to find food for points. The carnivores hunt you down. Person with the most points at the end wins (if a carnivore catches a herbivore, they're out of the game and must give all their points to them). I remember it being lots of fun.
posted by Go Banana at 4:59 AM on June 2, 2010

Playing-Dickon-from-The-Secret-Garden (which involved wearing a pair of baseball pants, which I thought looked like britches, and carrying around a recorder to "play music to the animals").
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:01 AM on June 2, 2010

Damming streams was a huge activity for me and my friends. There were two goals: to create the largest, deepest still pool behind the dam, and then to wreck the dam in the most spectacular way and create a torrent of water downstream. Rerouting streams was also good fun. Our materials were usually nothing than rocks, sticks and sections of turf.

Unblocking streams which had become naturally obstructed by broken branches and leaves was also good fun.

With the same group of friends, I used to find sticks and fight stinging nettle patches. These were usually Orcs, and we were characters from Lord of the Rings. I used to get stung a lot, but that was all part of the battle.

I remember spending most of an afternoon just jumping across a deep gully in various foolish ways.
posted by godawful at 5:21 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mostly we just ran around outside and did whatever the heck we felt like, not "games" exactly. But I have fond memories of hunter-gatherer Barbie.
posted by aimedwander at 5:24 AM on June 2, 2010

PhoBWanKenobi, I totally played recorder to the animals! And later, violin, though when I was still a beginner I'm not so sure they liked that...
posted by Cygnet at 5:30 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am not proud of this, but my friend and I used to have ant wars. We would collect as many red ants as we could (getting stung a bit), and then release them on top of a black ant nest. The red ants were 4x larger, but there were many many more black ants. A batter would ensue until the final red ant had been dismembered.

I have no idea why this was fun. It's obviously cruel and mean. But I was eight.
posted by Danf at 5:36 AM on June 2, 2010

posted by fire&wings at 5:44 AM on June 2, 2010

Drawing on concrete with mulch and rocks (or chalk, of course).

Planting seeds of all kinds in random jars and containers.

Over the weekend, I watched my nieces and nephew hang leaves out to try on the clothesline.

Building gnome houses out of sticks.

Collecting large, smooth rocks and either bringing them inside to paint them or making paint out of flowers, mulch bits, etc and water.

Chasing bubbles around the yard.

Playing with water toys in the summer- water bottles, garden hoses, slip n slides (easy to make with a heavy garden tarp on a smooth surface and lots of water and soap)
posted by kro at 5:57 AM on June 2, 2010

Brewing sun tea.
posted by zizzle at 6:01 AM on June 2, 2010

LARPing. Have races around my friend's giant back yard.
posted by jmd82 at 6:43 AM on June 2, 2010

If you have an apple tree with a bunch of drops handy:
  1. Cut a 1/4" branch from a handy maple sapling
  2. Sharpen
  3. Spear an apple
  4. Whip the branch forward
  5. Watch the apple go sailing 100+ feet
Bonus points if you hit a tree or stone wall and make the apple explode. My best friend and I spent hours doing this. I think we got the idea from one of Robert Newton Peck's Soup & Me stories.
posted by usonian at 7:04 AM on June 2, 2010

I used to play a game called Erosion where I would splash buckets of water at the top of small hills and watch it wash the sand and mud down. Eventually my dad had to make me stop playing that one because I was undermining our lawn.

A whole bunch of kids in grade school routinely played Flood Control Engineer at recess, where we'd block up a stream with rocks and then dig new channels in the mud with the heels of our shoes.

On vacation in the desert I'd use a screwdriver to carve cliffside homes for lizards out of the sand cliffs. One of them had a spiral staircase. I was very proud of that staircase. When we came back the next year some of the homes were full of lizard poop. This was extremely exciting.
posted by ook at 7:22 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

We used to go out at 8 and come back around 4 or 5, having been out all day playing the above games and eating wild blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries for food. We were afraid to eat choke berries and crab apples because of the names (no one wants to choke or be crabby). The stuff we didn't know the names of we'd ignore but try to see if animals ate them and look them up. We'd also collect fiddleheads and chestnuts and nick the occasional strawberry or apple from a neighbor's yard.

It's tough feeding an empire and all... 14 forts!

At some point we got into an argument over which was better, bows and arrows or slingshots and rocks. So we made them and then had a war. Pretty sure I still have a few scars from that.

In winter the mounds of snow left by the snow plow became a great place to play man on the mountain.

For whatever reason I also tried to help nature out as much as I could. If I saw a bird building a nest I'd grab materials for it and put them by the nest. Stuff like that. Exploring was the main activity though. We never did figure out where the bats rousted or why the red ants liked that hollow by the stream so much. Water engineering was popular as well.
posted by jwells at 7:29 AM on June 2, 2010

I remember playing "Cars" with my best friend Jeff. We would roll around all day plowing roads in the dirt using small twigs. We'd use whatever materials we could find laying around the yard to build bridges. Trees became skyscrapers...

Lot's of fun and it was all free. :)
posted by DavidOlsen at 7:31 AM on June 2, 2010

There was a grove of bamboo in a vacant lot down the street (Mission District San Francisco childhood here, about as close to nature as I got!). We kids would try to make all sorts of things from the fallen bamboo stalks - forts, rafts, you name it.
posted by chez shoes at 7:55 AM on June 2, 2010

I grew up in a very rural area and my backyard was directly adjacent to a very large woods. My friends and I played all sorts of make believe games, but one of the more structured games we kept coming back to was "Power Staff."

Basically, you run through the woods looking for fallen pieces of wood of a certain dimension (slightly smaller than a baseball bat). Then, when you have two good candidates, you whack them against each other until one of them breaks. The surviving staff becomes "The Champion" and gets a little notch made in it with a pen knife to mark its victory. At this point you usually also invented a name and a backstory for it. Maybe it was a caveman's club that had been used to kill sabretooth tigers and had been lying on the ground for thousands of years waiting for someone to pick it up. Maybe it was a monster that a wizard had imprisoned inside a nondescript length of wood. Whatever the story might be, soon enough it would be time to go out and find a new challenger to face off against the champion. If a stick reached a certain number of victories, usually about ten, we would let it retire and enshrine it in a n old barrel behind the shed.
posted by 256 at 8:04 AM on June 2, 2010

Get wide masking tape and make armbands and bracelets with the sticky part facing outward. Then have the kids make nature jewelry with leaves, twigs, berries, etc they find on their wanderings.

Make structures by tying twigs and sticks together with long pieces of field grass. In Texas where I live, we used to break down palmetto fronds to make ties.

Mud pies. Or use mud as mortar to make stuff from wood and stones.



Use softer stone to draw faces on harder stones.

Orienteering. Use a compass to make a "treasure map."

Make a tidal pool.

Offer a nickel for each ounce of trash they can pick up.

At night, rig a white sheet and a spotlight and then watch the insects that flock to the sheet.
posted by cross_impact at 8:23 AM on June 2, 2010

Digging holes to China.
Building forts out of fallen branches.
Sledding down hills in the snow.
Building dams in creeks.
Swinging on vines.
Picking blackberries.
Playing with pill bugs.
Breaking open rocks to look for quartz crystals.
Pulling legs off of daddy long legs (sorry...)
Balancing on fallen logs over streams.
Collecting acorns.
posted by tipthepizzaguy at 9:45 AM on June 2, 2010

Bouncing rocks along low-tide tidal flats to make the horse clams "pee".
Scooping up big nets of pond muck and sifting through their contents (bugs, fish, tadpoles, etc.).
Turning over logs and catching salamanders.
(Like a lot of other people here) damming streams and racing leaves and twigs.
Throwing dirt clods at one another (not recommended).
Dabbling in trap-making (this stopped once we caught someone's pet cat in a sapling snare (it was okay)).
Painting our faces with clay.
Building rafts from washed-up pieces of styrofoam on the beach.
Building rope swings.
Building really any kind of shelter from sticks, etc.
posted by bennett being thrown at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2010

For two years after school, my brother and I and any friends who were interested would go out into our backyard and work on the giant hole we were digging. It never got terribly deep, which vaguely puzzled me at the time, but I learned when I was 21 that every night after we'd gone to bed, my dad would go out and partially re-fill it.

I also grew up next to a beach with a tidal creek that flowed through the marsh, so we'd take butterfly nets and a bucket and catch minnows and hermit crabs and fiddler crabs and put them in the bucket until it was too full, and then we'd empty it and re-fill it. There was also a really clay-y soil on the banks of creek, so I spent a lot of time trying to make pots out of it.

One of my favorite games to play with the ocean was to watch a wave recede on the beach, and then pick a spot to stand in the backwash before the next wave came in. The idea was to get as close to the upper edge of next wave coming up the beach without getting wet. As I watched the next wave come in, if I thought I'd misjudged, I'd allow myself one big step back at a time. One of the major pleasures of this game was staring the wave down as it came in towards me, daring it to get my feet wet.
posted by colfax at 10:17 AM on June 2, 2010

I used to play a game we called "witches brew". A bucket would be filled with water and to it we would add anything we could find, mostly leaves, and plants etc. Stirring our cauldron with sticks.

We'd see how far we could go in the neighborhood through peoples backyards, hopping fences.

See how far we could go without touching the ground. We played that one a lot during recess.

There was a huge maple tree at my elementary school that we spent many recesses simply catching leaves.
posted by ljesse at 10:19 AM on June 2, 2010

I used to make soup using only stuff found in our (3 acre) back yard. All it required was hot water (usually from the hose that had been sitting in the sun) and various edible vegetation such as dandelions, violets, wild chives, sassafras leaves, and wild anise. No mushrooms allowed. I'd put all that stuff in a cup or bowl, add the hot hose water, stir and eat. Mmmm . . . kinda gross.

Another thing we did - we had a lot of types of pine trees on our land. Some of those branches were perfect for playing horse on. We'd climb up, pick out a fairly flexible, yet strong branch, straddle it and then sort of bounce up and down and pretend we were riding a horse. In those same trees sometimes we'd take up a large towel or blanket and wrap it around two branches making a hammock way up in the tree.

Flying using the tire swing - we'd wrap the tire swing taut around the tree it was connected to. Then, holding onto the bottom of the tire (we were not sitting on the tire swing), we'd run out from the tree, keeping the rope taut. Pretty soon we'd hit a spot in the ground that sloped down and since we were holding on to the tire swing, it would lift us up off the ground and we'd coast around to the other side of the tree - yeah sometimes we'd hit the tree, but more often not and it was such a rush!

Naming our trees - we had so many trees on our property and we named them things such as Monkey Tree (it was wonderful for climbing), the Challenge Tree (it was indeed a challenge to climb), the Umbrella Tree (it sort of had this canopy look to it that was beautiful in the fall), the Airplane Trees (someone carved numbers into the trees - the flight numbers - and we'd pretend we were flying off to someplace exotic).

Having mud-ball fights. Like snowball fights but you use dirt/clay instead.

Riding our bikes like wild people down our steep hill.

Sled riding at midnight.

Learning how to whistle using the top of an acorn.

Running down a steep hill while holding a garbage bag open above your head - we pretended it was a parachute.

Heck, just running as fast as you can down a hill.

Rolling down a hill.

Finding "magical" places - a little opening in a group of trees, a small field behind the rock pile, etc.

Gathering wild strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Thank you for letting me relive my childhood!!
posted by Sassyfras at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2010

Making fossils out of tadpoles and mudpies.
Using the red dirt near the beach to making "minefields" of stretches of sand (god, how gory).
Dropping rocks onto cars from hill near the road (I think there's a bit of a pattern here)
Having a restaurant and serving vine spaghetti, leaf and mudball burgers and so on.
One time, at our very small school, we located a quantity of long grass and knotted it together to make a sort of see-through loose macrame wall. It was such a popular activity that everyone in grades 4-7 got involved in it for 3 days.
Playing Survivor long before Tom Hanks ever did, but then, I had miles of beach and bush to play with - I was very lucky.
posted by b33j at 10:52 AM on June 2, 2010

We used to make mazes out of lego and make pill bugs run them. You need the kind that will roll up when touched. The other flatter type tend to think outside the box and just climb over the walls. Cheaters!
posted by srboisvert at 11:11 AM on June 2, 2010

If you live in a place with very little light pollution, there's always naked eye satellite spotting. A favorite of mine when I was a kid since satellites were still pretty few and far between.
posted by smallerdemon at 11:22 AM on June 2, 2010

We lived in a subdivision that abutted a large expanse of desert (not Sahara type desert, but desert filled with plants).

-riding bikes
-catching bugs, lizards, rodents
-stalking quail
-catching snakes and throwing them at each other
-build lean-to's and other shelters
-digging holes
-setting up forts and raiding each others forts, using tumbleweeds as barbed wire and tall grasses as handcuffs when we captured someone from the other team
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:23 AM on June 2, 2010

The most fun thing I remember was when my dad was going to plant a garden, so he tilled a plot about 8-feet on each edge and about 12-16 inches deep. Before the plants arrived, we were allowed to put a hose in this space, which filled the whole thing with mud. We spent 2 weeks tromping around in that mud pit, trying to throw each other down, trying to pick up your feet above the surface rather than dragging them through the mud, just being kids. The only rule was that we had to rinse off in the hose before we came inside.
posted by CathyG at 11:35 AM on June 2, 2010

Making dirtbombs out of sunflower leaves and hurling them at one's adversaries.
posted by Beardman at 1:30 PM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: There's been far too many awesome responses to properly mark best answers, but for the record, some of my favourite mental images have been:

Baby rongorongo engaged in a tense staring match with a cow.

Baby PhoBWanKenobi and baby Cygnet tromping around with their musical instruments and serenading unappreciative animals.

Baby godawful engaged in a pitched swordfight with a clump of stinging nettles.

Baby ook being thrilled to bits by lizard poop.

Baby 256 reverentially placing a wooden stick in a barrel so it can enjoy its retirement.

Baby Sassyfras deciding with impeccable logic that certain trees are airplanes.

Baby nestor_mahkno flinging outraged snakes at people
posted by the latin mouse at 2:40 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, I have some questions about some of the suggestions.

1. How do you weave with pine needles? It seems like it'd be impossible, they're so small.

2. What's a charlie bear?

3. Is playing at "man on the mountain" the same as pretending to be a mountaineer? Is it like being "king of the castle" or is it something else?

4. A couple people mentioned sucking the nectar from flowers. Is there a trick to this or do you just put the flower in your mouth and go for it?
posted by the latin mouse at 2:41 PM on June 2, 2010

Hmm, you take a pine needle, curve it into a circle, and wrap the long end in and around the circle. You can tuck in a new pine needle when you run out of the long end. These range from ring-sized to bracelet-sized, and you can get fancy with different patterns of wrapping.

Baskets can start with a small circle like that, and you add new circles and lash them together, or you try to hold the tiny needles in place while you build a woof-and-warp structure. Baskets are tough! I never got very far on them.

When you eat honeysuckle nectar, you pick the flowers and then lick up the bead of nectar on the plucked end. Bermuda buttercups ("sour root" or "sourgrass") are also good -- you pick them and then nibble on the plucked ends, but too much of that and you'll get a stomachache, because their oxalic acid is toxic in large quantities.

(I grew up in the middle of Los Angeles!)
posted by dreamyshade at 5:20 PM on June 2, 2010

We had cherry pit wars sitting in the cherry trees in our back yard and spitting the pits at each other. We also played pirates by cutting whips from the weeping willow and making each kid walk the plank while the rest of us whipped (ouch).

I always sipped the honeysuckle nectar by pinching the end off of the blossom and pulling the middle of the flower through which pulls the nectar out the bottom of the flower.
posted by tamitang at 5:57 PM on June 2, 2010

- Are there chestnut trees near you? We used to collect chestnuts, bring them home and make animals and people using little sticks, toothpicks, or matches. We made holes in the chestnuts using sharp little pick tools.

- We used to whittle sticks just for the heck of it.

Wow, I was allowed to play with a lot of sharp things when I was really little.

- I collected leaves and small flowers and placed them in a heavy book to flatten and dry them. I then made homemade cards by gluing the leaves onto nice paper. I usually made flowers cards by gluing dried flowers (or small buttons) to the card, making a stem out of thin sticks, and gluing little dried leaves to the card. It looked really pretty to sew some grass under the flower with colored string right onto the paper, or draw a sun and then sew yellow string onto the paper for the rays.

- Whistling with acorn tops.

- Making wishes and blowing on dandelions.

Remembering all this stuff just made me happy. Thanks for asking this! =)
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:54 PM on June 2, 2010

Yeah, with honeysuckle, you pluck the flower off the vine, pinch off the green bit at the bottom of the flower and then suck the place you've pinched off. You have to make sure you don't pinch too much off, or you pinch off the sweet part.
posted by colfax at 10:58 PM on June 2, 2010

Leaf spirits - fold a leaf in half (oak or maple works well), poke or tear an eye and half a mouth, unfold. My dad did this with a cigarette lighter!

Carve faces in peeled apples then leave them to dry to make shrunken heads.

Leave a trail with found objects then see if a friend can follow it.

Collect dried tree sap and pretend it was treasure.

Throw leaves at spiders' webs to see if they stuck.

Collect water from leaves and drink it.

Soak plant matter in water to make ink - use it to write on paper with sticks.

Pick berries and mushrooms to take home and ask your dad if you can eat them.

Sharpen a long stick by rubbing the end on rough concrete. Rub the tip with random plant matter. Tell the other kids the combination is poisonous then throw the spear at them repeatedly. Tell the weedy kid you think he's going to die when you draw blood, but that if he eats this bark from the driveway it's the antidote.

Collect animal bones. When you have enough to make a monster, glue them together.

Hit rocks with a hammer because one of them will be a thunderegg.

Make spear and arrow tips from stone.

Throw river rocks in a fire.

Burn ants with a magnifying glass.

Throw speargrass at each other.

Sift sand from the high tide line then pick through the bits left in the sieve.

Put yellow pegs in the blue bower bird's nest.

Steep gum leaves in water then drink it.

Put a skink and a redback spider in a jar and see who lives and who dies.

Do really abominable things to cane toads because the teacher said they're hideous monsters that can't feel anything.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:20 AM on June 3, 2010

Hashing. My folks actually took me, as a young kid, hashing in the jungles of Borneo. Not sure I can recommend this exactly but a lot of ex-pats there seemed to drag their kids along.
posted by KMH at 4:00 AM on June 3, 2010

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