It’s that time of year: the leaves are turning colors, the birds are on the move, and the breeze is getting a little cooler each day. As the weather starts to improve, it’s a sure bet that your child will want to get outside and explore the outdoors. If you’re getting bored of going to the playground time after time, how about exploring the nature around you together? Below, Ranger Mac has gathered a list of a few ideas that can help you get started with creating that perfect list of nature activities for kids!
As you get outdoors with your child, start by showing them all of the important aspects of the great outdoors. You can instill a sense of wonder and excitement about nature and start kids thinking about preserving it for generations to come at a young age. Here are a few simple concepts to start with:
- Enjoy - The more you and your child enjoy nature, the more you will both want to do to protect it.
- Value - Learn to value nature as an entire family.
- Educate - Educate yourself and your family on how to better take care of the environment around you.
- Notice - Really stop and listen for the birds or notice how the leaves move with the breeze.
Taking the time to slow down and do these 4 things as a family will help you and your child enjoy the nature activities you do later. Bonus: your child will have a greater appreciation for what’s around them as they explore.
Touch and Feel Nature
If your child is more a tactile learner, there are several ways you can help them explore nature by touch. Here are a few ideas:
- Take a hike and feel the bark of 5 different types of trees. Have your child explain the differences.
- Lay in the grass. What does the grass feel like on their skin?
- Climb a tree. Ask your child about the ease or difficulty of climbing the different branches.
- Rake autumn leaves into a big pile, then jump in them.
- Walk across a fallen log. Was it easy? What did it feel like?
- Play in the rain, stream, or puddle.
Listen to What’s Around You
If your child is more into observing and being aware of the sounds around them, there are countless ways to help them enjoy nature. Here are just a few:
- Go for a walk outside and pay attention to the changing sounds.
- Listen to the birds for 2 minutes. How many different sounds did you hear?
- Visit a stream, river, or waterfall. What does the water sound like as it moves over the rocks?
- If you take a nature hike, listen to how the ground sounds as your feet hit different surfaces. Rocks, leaves, sticks, and other materials all sound different if you take the time to notice!
Look Around You. What Do You See?
Should your child be in wonder of all they see around them, help them see even more by doing these activities out in nature:
- Look for a bird’s nest in the spring.
- Watch ants carry food to their nest.
- Look for animal tracks as you go on a nature hike.
- Look for butterflies.
- Sit under a big tree and look at the branches. Describe what they look like.
- Find patterns and pictures in the clouds.
- Watch a sunset.
- After the sun has set, stay outside and look at the stars.
- Look at a full moon and watch how it changes as the time goes by.
Gear Up to Go Outside
If your child would rather be a couch potato, but you want them to get out and see what the outdoors has to offer, here are a few ways you can get them more interested:
- Visit a planetarium, zoo, park, science museum, or other place that makes learning about nature more fun.
- Have them take a book outside to read in the sun.
- Visit a farm and see how it all works.
- Go out and take nature photographs and create a photo album of your pictures.
- Take a sketchbook outside and draw what you see.
- Go on a picnic.
- Fly a kite.
More than a Walk Outside
On the flip side, if your child cannot get enough of being outside, and it’s time to think outside the box, here are some ideas you can try to continue making nature more exciting again:
- Go bird watching together, and set out to find all the types of birds in your area. There are great resources for identifying local birds in books and online.
- Go geocaching (playing hide-and-seek with a GPS device and hidden locations).
- Make a list of all the National Parks you want to visit and start visiting them.
- Go on a road trip and see what other areas have to offer.
- Visit a wildlife sanctuary.
- Google natural wonders, such as the oldest tree in the world, and learn all the facts you can about them.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple walk around the neighborhood or a hike to discover all the birds in your area, any time you get your child outdoors to enjoy nature and take a break from the indoors is time well spent. Need convincing? Check out Ranger Mac’s blog on the health benefits of going outdoors here. Get outside and see what the outdoors has to offer for you and your family today!