Making nature walks more exciting for children can be a fun and educational experience that fosters a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for nature.
Nature walks also get children into good health and fitness habits they can take into adulthood. Being out in nature is shown to have excellent benefits for mental health and walking is associated with a whole host of health benefits.
Bring Nature Guides
Equip your children with nature guides or apps that identify flora, fauna and wildlife that are specific to your region. These guides can help them identify plants, birds, insects, and animals they encounter during the walk. Not only does nature spotting engage your children but can also stimulate their thirst for learning.
Use Binoculars and Magnifying Glasses
Provide binoculars for birdwatching and magnifying glasses for examining insects, flowers, and rocks up close. These tools can make the experience more interactive and educational and enables them to see the world for a different perspective.
Collecting and Exploration
Encourage kids to collect leaves, rocks, pinecones, or other natural treasures they find along the way. Later, they can use these items for art projects, nature-themed crafts or a scrapbook.
Playing games such as a simple scavenger hunt to tick items off a list during the walk gives children to focus on which directs their attention and prevents them from getting bored. For more games ideas, check out this great article by Sweatcoin.
Listen to Sounds
Teach children to listen to the sounds of nature, such as bird calls, rustling leaves, or running water. You can even make it a game to see who can identify the most sounds. Have a pen and paper and the ready — or your smartphone — to keep score.
Provide kids with notebooks and coloured pencils to keep observation journals. Encouraging your children to write about their adventures and draw what they see helps to stimulate their creativity, enhance the experience of the nature walk and get them excited about the next one.
Make looking for animal tracks in mud or soft soil a game that helps to engage your children. When you find animal tracks, encourage your children to use their smartphones to learn more about the animals they are tracking; where thy live, what they eat. This can give you clues as to where you can get an actual sighting.
Tailor your nature walk to the season. In the spring, you can focus on wildflowers and baby animals, while in the fall, you can explore colourful leaves and migrating birds.
Ensure safety by dressing appropriately for the weather, wearing sunscreen and insect repellent, and bringing plenty of water. Teach kids about respecting nature and leaving no trace.
The key is to keep the walk relaxed, exploratory, and focused on the joy of discovery. Encourage questions and curiosity, and let children take the lead in their exploration of the natural world. With these approaches, nature walks can become exciting adventures that foster a lifelong connection to the outdoors.