Nature Walks with Children

As a mother raising boys on a 300 acre summer camp, I’ve acquired many tricks essential for taking them on enjoyable and educational nature walks. Because a healthy connection with the outdoors is good for one’s physical and mental health, I’d like to share them with you. Whether your family lives in a city and enjoys access to public parks and gardens, or lives in a rural setting like my family does, making time to be outside with your children each day is refreshing for everyone.

1. Let them walk; let them lead. For the simple purpose of supervision, I prefer to have my children walking in front of me instead of behind me. More importantly, letting my children lead the nature walk empowers them, builds confidence, and satisfies their innate curiosity. Many people strap small children into backpacks or strollers while walking on nature trails, but I believe that if children are capable and interested in doing so, they should be permitted to walk. If they are in a stroller, they cannot stop to examine the pine needles, or gently touch lichen growing on a tree. If they are carried in backpacks, they may not notice the beetle crawling over a rotting log, or the stunning orange leaf in the middle of the path.

Allow your child to set the pace; avoid hurrying them along. You will never get this moment back. Neither will they.

2. Start a collection. Bring a pail and invite your child to collect interesting items that have fallen to the ground. We keep our nature collection in a basket on the porch. Magnifying glasses and plastic tweezers are accessible to the boys so that they can examine their items scientifically!

3. Play the color match game. I love this game for its educational purposes and because it keeps the boys happily occupied. They love it because it’s fun. As Colin said, “Playing this game is like hopping inside of a Look & Find book.”

Simply pick up an assortment of free paint samples next time you are at the hardware store, punch holes in them, and then clip them together (I used round clips). As your children walk, ask them to search for their color matches.

4. Let them get dirty. Kids and clothes are washable!

5. Carry a camera. So you don’t miss out on capturing moments like this.

Or this.

And this.

18 thoughts on “Nature Walks with Children

  1. Melissa, do you know the book “Sharing Nature with Children?” It’s a great one for ideas for exactly what the title says. One of my favorites is the listening map, where children are completely silent for 2+ minutes listening for everything they can.

  2. Great post Melissa!! “Nature Deficit Disorder” is so prevalent in the lives of so many young children today! I can tell a difference in my boys attitudes on rainy days when we can’t get outside (and not in a good way!). I LOVE the color match idea! Not something we’ve done before, but we will definitely be trying this very soon-especially with all the colors of fall!! HAPPY AUTUMN!

  3. Great ideas. Will be trying these with my five grand daughters very soon. Also, love your photo’s. (I’m Hudson’s Great Aunt)

  4. Pingback: Learning Colors Through Nature | Mud Pies and Fireflies

  5. Pingback: The Best (and Worst!) of 2012 | Fireflies and Mud Pies

  6. Pingback: Winter Nature Hikes and Hot Chocolate! | Fireflies and Mud Pies

  7. Pingback: Valentine Nature Hike | Fireflies and Mud Pies

  8. Pingback: Planet Earth Playdough Invitation | Fireflies and Mud Pies

  9. Pingback: 10 Ways to Honor Earth Day | Fireflies and Mud Pies

  10. Pingback: Learning Colors Through Nature - Fireflies and Mud Pies

I love comments! Please leave one here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s