I love doing nature walks with my kids. I look for any excuse to get outside, and I’m surprised by how many cool things you can encounter even on a residential side street. Today we only ventured a couple hundred feet from our driveway, but we had a blast. We saw some animals and found some treasures. Here are my tips for an enjoyable nature walk:
1. Pay attention to detail. Look up at the sky and down at the ground. Notice things you would otherwise miss, like a pretty colored leaf or a brightly colored bird. Taking a nature walk is really about slowing down long enough to take in your surroundings and pausing to appreciate the beauty that is all around us.
2. Look for teaching moments that are age appropriate. My son is just starting to talk, so I point at things and say their name. With my three year old, I’m trying to teach her about animals, so we talk about where earthworms live and what squirrels eat. You could also ask questions like, ‘What color is the lizard? How many chipmunks did we see?’
3. Teach respect. My daughter will see a pretty rock and want to keep it, so I explain that rocks are happier outside and that it’s not nice to take them away from their rock friends. I think it’s important for kids to learn that everything is not meant to be handled, brought inside, and owned.
4. It doesn’t have to be elaborate.You can examine the grass growing through a crack in the sidewalk and little kids will be impressed. It’s about appreciation of the little things and learning to be aware.
5. Look for ‘treasures.’ Anything cool that we see or find is called a treasure. We don’t have to keep it, we just have to see it. At the end of the walk we review our treasures- a bluebird, a pink flower, a bird’s nest, a pretty cloud. This teaches kids that treasures are not found in stores with high pricetags.