Activities for teaching the seasons

February 27, 2024

The changing seasons can be a challenging concept for young children to grasp. We all know time is abstract and often lacks meaning for our youngest primary children, so how do we help them understand the changes in nature over a year? 

The most popular approach is to look at trees, which makes sense, as they have the most significant change in appearance throughout the seasons. However, this often gets condensed down into four blank trees, some finger painting and strange words such as Autumn and Winter mentioned. You can ask any of the children what those different seasons mean after that activity; they will give you a watered-down response such as ‘autumn is when trees are orange’. This then begs the question; do they really understand the concept of a season? An activity that takes an abstract concept and delivers it in an abstract style often leads to a shallow understanding.

How do we dive deep into teaching the seasons?

Timing your seasons science lessons

Rather than taking the topic of seasons and trying to teach it all in one go, this science topic needs to be revisited alongside the seasons as they occur throughout the year and our children need to experience the seasons for themselves! This means teaching about the seasons on a day when the weather is typical for the season you are in and the plants are displaying as you would expect. Flexibility is key here! Sometimes the seasons can be affected by abnormal weather, so for example, if it has snowed throughout March, Spring might not yet be in full swing at the start of April when you planned to deliver your Spring outdoor lesson! 

To make this doable for busy primary teachers we suggest pre-preparing your lessons for each season and when the opportunity arises to deliver the lesson. It might mean a bit of timetable shuffling but trust us it will be worth it! 

Taking your seasonal lesson outdoors

Because you have timed your lesson with the season unfolding, a lot of your preparation and resources are largely done for you by nature. Outside is where we see the changing of the seasons and so outside is where we need to teach our children about it! 

Head out into any natural space you have available to you and allow the children to simply explore. (Please do ensure you have risk assessed the space first, for more help on this read about risk benefit assessments). If you are confident that children know which items they shouldn’t touch (we advise particularly all mushrooms are off-limit unless you are a fungi expert!) you could have children collect some natural items from around your outdoor space to observe in a circle activity. Make sure to collect lots of photos of the children holding their collections, and standing in front of the trees and plants. Then come back inside to discuss and record what they observed. Then repeat the session throughout the year, your children will love looking back over the photographs and comparing them, you could even print off the ones from the previous season to take outdoors with you to locate where they were taken and play spot the difference!

FInd more: recommended spotter sheets for this lesson

Organising and presenting seasonal learning

The challenge we face as teachers with taking a topic over the year is how we record it and present it so that the children can return to it. For this, you have a few options, a favourite of ours is to create a seasonal display! Divide the display board into quarters and display photographs from your outdoor visits (and the activities at the end of this blog). This board then becomes all you need to introduce your next seasonal lesson, as you’ll likely begin by recapping the previous seasons.

Another option for recording and presenting your seasonal lessons is to make a seasonal journal this could follow a specific template or, as it will just be a few lessons of the year, you could give your children complete creative freedom in how they present their journals! What you include in your journal will depend on the activities you decide to deliver!

For more ideas on evidencing outdoor learning check out our guide

Activity ideas for experiencing the seasons

By completing additional activities either in your outdoor area or using natural items from your outdoor space you are providing an opportunity for your class to interact with and experience nature. Through these interactions, your class will deepen their understanding of how nature changes during each season and throughout the year build enhanced knowledge of the plants and animals that are present in your outdoor space at different times of year. This not only ensures their scientific knowledge is developed as it should be but it starts to feed into other areas of the curriculum too, such as creating descriptive settings within their writing and recognising vocabulary whilst reading.

Outdoor Winter activity ideas

Tree ID

Ice decorations

Outdoor Spring activity ideas

Tree ID

Plant dissection

Outdoor Summer activity ideas


Cloud hunting

Outdoor Autumn activity ideas

Bird feeders

Leaf colour hunt

If you loved these activity ideas and you want even more to help your class get hands-on with experiencing the seasons, we have a full activity pack for seasonal changes available inside our Planning Hub! If you decide to give any of these activities a go, we would love to hear about it! Get in touch with us via email or our social media channels, nothing brings us more joy than knowing an idea we have shared has helped a teacher to take more of the children’s learning outside!

Check out our seasonal changes activity pack!