Spending time in nature does not mean a long drive out of the city and then a long hike along some predetermined trail. Spending nature can be as easy as walking out your front door and going on a walk. Nature walks are a great way to allow for hands-on learning, observation and are a great introduction to the outside world. Don’t wait, head out and find nature in your neighborhood today!
Here are a few tips for finding nature on a simple neighborhood walk:
- Bring your patience and observational skills. Take time to notice small details.
- Bring a notebook (or just some paper) and a writing utensil like crayons or a pencil so kids can draw or write down their observations.
- Vary the time of your walks to see how nature changes depending on the day or the season.
- Use all five senses to observe nature. Model this by sharing what you are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching. Then ask kids what they are observing with their senses.
- Bring along a magnifying glass or binoculars to help kids get up close and personal with the outside.
- Observe the weather. Ask your child about the rain or sunshine. Watch how rain falls and how the rain hangs off a leaf. Stomp in puddles but inspect them first to see if anything lives in them.
- Find and observe insects. What kinds of insects live on your street? Count the birds. Listen for cats and dogs. Watch the squirrels.
- Go on a plant collecting walk. Pick up leaves from the ground and bring them home to make rubbings. Note which flowers have bloomed or wilted. Talk about what plants have been planted in neighbor’s yards.
- Observe a plants growing cycle. Record findings in a notebook and go back to the same plant at different times, in different seasons.
- Collect rocks. Talk about what makes each rock different. Are they different colors, sizes, weights?