RVCA's Fresh Air Fun

Fresh Air Fun With Nature Nut Andrea and Ranger Rebecca

There's fun, discovery and learning available in your backyard or during a walk around the block!

Outdoor Educators Andrea Wood (Baxter Conservation Area) and Rebecca Whitman (Foley Mountain Conservation Area) have tips and tricks to help you maximize your child's outdoor experience. 

Step 1 — Check out our BLOG for tips and tricks.  
Step 2
— Watch for #RVCAFreshAirFun posts on our social media pages ( twitter new Twitter facebook new Facebook ) for fun games to maximize your time outside! 

Check out our collection of fun ideas!

Below are some great resources for safe fun and learning for your little ones (or big ones) while physical distancing.

Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun natural artNatural Art — Hey kids! Why not get outside and collect little pieces of “nature” and create a work of art? What can you use from your backyard to make your own unique masterpiece? A few blades of grass? Maybe a few twigs will help? How about those pinecones? There are treasures to be found! Build your design outside, take a snap and leave it behind. 
Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun alphabet copyAlphabet Walk — Hey parents, here’s today’s RVCA Fresh Air Fun tip! Take the little ones for an “alphabet walk.” Can you see letters in shapes around you? Or find objects for every letter of the alphabet. Access our ABC check list here (download PDF)
Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun nature detective artScavenger Hunt — Hey kids! It’s a spring scavenger hunt! Get outside see what you can spy during your outdoor adventure. Get your scavenger hunt here (download PDF).
Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun BooklistBooklist — Hey parents! Pair a fun children’s story with your next walk outside. Make connections from the book to nature while watching the squirrels, jumping in puddles or sitting under a magic tree! Check out Interpreter Andrea and Rebecca’s recommended reading list! Reading List (download PDF)
Conservation Area Fresh phototakingSay cheese! What a better way to capture your backyard fresh air fun than with your camera! Spring is blooming! What beautiful outdoor image can you freeze in time? The flight of a feathered friend, the unique bend of a tree branch, the buds about to burst?
Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun literacyLiteracy Skills — Weave literacy skills into your next bit of fresh air fun! Make a list of the different things you see on your walk while encouraging your child to use literacy skills— younger children can guess the first letter based on the sound, older children can try and spell the words; younger children can also draw pictures rather than writing the words. You can help them fill in the blanks later! You can also use books or online resources when you get some to see if you can figure out how the word is spelled.

Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun loose partsLoose Parts Play — Ever heard of loose parts? Loose parts are things that children can move around, build with, play imaginary games with, and so much more. Right now, getting out to purchase items can be a challenge. So, take a look in your garage, basement, kitchen, etc. and think like a kid!  Boards, tires, old blankets or large pieces of fabric, boxes, crates, kitchen items that aren't in use, buckets, sticks, tubes, pipes, logs, rocks, things from your recycling box, and so much more fit into this category and there is no better place to play with them than in your own backyard! 

Why is this type of play beneficial for kids?  Loose parts encourage kids to be physically active and creative. The learning is hands on, engaging, and encourages children to communicate and be cooperative along with developing great problem-solving skills.   

Why is this type of play beneficial of parents and guardians? It takes the mess, noise, and general chaotic nature of children playing and learning outside rather than in the confines of your home! 

Rainy Day Play — Water is a wonderful inConservation Area Fresh Air Fun rainy dayvitation for play and exploration! A puddle, a ditch, a stream, or a pond in your neighbourhood or backyard can all lead to some fresh air fun. Raid your recycling bin for containers that you can use as scoops. If you had an old kitchen strainer, use it as a net. Try and find a pail, bowl, or basin to collect water and any creatures you find! Don’t forget your rubber boots!  Interested in figuring out what you find swimming? Make observation like how big the animal is, how many legs it has, does it have antennae, if can you see gills, and how it swims. Parents, be sure to watch your kids near deep or fast flowing water.

ID Resources: 



  • A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell Jr.
  • Pond Life by Golden Guide
  • Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes by Lawrence Page and Brooks Burr
  • Field Guide to Insects and Spider of North America by Arthur Evans 

Dry off and pair your experience with a fun story. Check out “Over and Under the Pond" by Kate Messner or "In the Small, Small Pond" by Denise Fleming. If you have a library card, many books can be accessed through digital library connections like OverDrive Tumble Books for free.

Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun toad houseToad House — Hop to it and try your hand at creating toad habitat in your own backyard! Toads are great neighbours because they love to eat bugs and slugs. Learn more from Ranger Rebecca as she gives tips on how to build a toad house with your little ones. Don’t forget to post and tag us in your creation! 


Conservation Area Fresh Air MudMud Kitchen — Today’s #RVCAFreshAirFun? How about building a mud kitchen?

The messiness of play and learning can take its tole on your indoor space and patience! Try taking it outside for some fresh air fun!! Grab some containers from your recycling, buckets, old kitchen utensils, bowls, pots, pans, etc. that you have lying around and set up a mud kitchen in your backyard. Find a spot where your children can dig in the soil or sand and collect ingredients from nature. Fill some containers with water and watch their imaginations go! Although you may see lots of fancy set-ups for mud kitchens online, we have found that children are more than happy to sit on the ground or work with their tools on a stump, bench, board, or picnic table. When the play is finished, you can throw everything in a plastic bin or sturdy reusable shopping bag. Washing things off is totally optional!   

How does this play support learning? Here are just a few examples:

  • Ask you children about the ingredients they are using.
  • Count the scoops and numbers of things they adding to their creations.
  • Offer the opportunity to record their recipe either through words or pictures. 
  • The acts of scooping, stirring, grasping, and more are all great ways to develop fine motor skills. 

Have fun! Don’t for get to check out our blog at https://www.rvca.ca/blog.

Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun ClothesDressing for Spring — There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Only the Wrong Clothes!

Spring can be a tricky time of year to dress for with lots of wet weather and temperatures that can sometimes feel hot like summer and sometimes be cold enough for the odd snow flurry!  Here are some tips from our outdoor educators to help you dress for outdoor play success: 

  • Choose light layers – Several light layers are great for cool frosty spring mornings. As the temperatures warm and your play becomes more active, take a layer off at a time until you feel comfortable. If the sun sneaks behind a cloud and you start to feel chilly, grab one of your layers and cozy back up. Try and avoid grabbing cotton for staying warm. Choose wool, fleece, or other polyester materials if you can!    
  • Choose a waterproof outer layer – Look for waterproof rain pants, jackets, one-piece suits, and boots for those wet splashy days. Water is so much fun to play in and it is even more fun when you don’t get wet and cold!  
  • Cozy feet - they can sometimes be hard to find but wool socks for your child's feet (especially in rubber boots) make for warm toes and more comfortable outdoor adventures! 

Don’t forget to check out and sign-up for our blog at https://www.rvca.ca/blog.

Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun mapsMap & Compass — Get back to basics with this edition of fresh air fun! GPS technology is amazing but it doesn’t always work the way we expect it. Traditional map and compass work is a great way to explore outside. Break out your old compass and see if you can figure out how to find north and the other cardinal directions. Grab some paper, pencils, and colouring tools to make a map of your backyard or neighbourhood. See if you can match north on your map to magnetic north and see how that can help you navigate on your adventure. Ranger Rebecca explains more at https://youtu.be/6e9J29G8xD8 

Conservation Area Fresh Air Fun loose partsSidewalk Chalk — Do you have a container of sidewalk chalk lying around? In our forest school programs, we have discovered that it’s not just for sidewalks We bring it with us to mark our path on outdoor adventures and write what letters things start with. We mash it with our mud kitchen tools and mix it into our creations (think sprinkles for delicious mud cupcakes) or add water to make paint and create artwork on rocks and logs. The good news for clean-up? Just wait for a rainy day or let the kids get out the hose! Share some of your creative chalk fun in the comments! 

How does this play support learning? Here are just a few examples:

  • Creativity and imagination
  • Fine motor skills used for mashing, scooping, and mixing
  • Problem solving and figuring out how to use things in a different way
  • Talking about and maybe writing down our procedures

Conservation Area Fresh bugs slugs alphabetTiny Habitats — Time for a little more #RVCAFreshAirFun!

Even though it might be difficult to get out to a forest right now to look for creatures, did you know that you might have some tiny habitats right around your house? Do you have a rock sitting in your garden? How about a big stick or log sitting on your grass by your shed? Try lifting it up and looking underneath! You might be surprised what you find!  When you are finished, be sure to put the rock or log back so the things living underneath stay safe.    

How does this play support learning? Here are just a few examples:

  • Talking about and describing the things you are seeing.
  • Asking questions as to why they are there and what makes it a good habitat.  
  • Counting the different creatures you see.


  • Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs, and other Ughs by Anthony D. Fredericks, illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio
  • A Log’s Life by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Robin Brickman
Conservation Area Fresh owlsPretend to be an animal — How about getting outside for some #RVCAFreshAirFun and pretending to be an animal? Try hide and seek with a forest friend twist – the little owls fly out into the forest and hide from one of their owl friends. When everyone is ready, the owls start to hoot and their friends listens to try and find them. 






Contact Us

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
3889 Rideau Valley Drive
Manotick, Ontario K4M 1A5

613-692-3571, 1-800-267-3504



Regular Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Member of: conservation ontario