Lucky for us our city has a lot of parks and trails to explore as well as plenty of state parks nearby.
When we go out for our nature walks my goal is to always make sure there is a benefit to it, especially for the kids. Here are some ways we go about adding benefit to our walks.
Fun: If you’ve been following my blog you know how much I love geocaching, it’s a perfect fun reason to go on a nature walk. If geocaching isn’t your thing, or you want to do something a little different, find a game or activity that works for you while you are out on your nature walk. One day we found a fun foot bridge on the trail and we decided to jump into an impromptu reenactment of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Play games, tell stories, do scavenger hunts, whatever you can think of to have some fun on your walk. It’s a great way to make sure everyone is excited to get outdoors for the next one.
Invent Games: Sometimes doing the same old, same old isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to exercise our creativity as much as our bodies and invent a new game using things you can find in nature. On a walk, have the kids pick up rocks, sticks, leaves or other nature findings and when you find a clearing, or a picnic area take some time to sit back, enjoy the great outdoors and invent a few games using the nature supplies you just gathered. Play some sorting games with the younger kids, use sticks to create a hopscotch board, draw a circle in the dirt with a stick and place the stick upright in the middle, then take turns tossing rocks to see who can get the closest to the stick. The games you could invent with nature are infinite!
Senses: Sometimes when out walking, it’s easy to get lost in thought, or put your focus on things that aren’t nature. Every now and then we remind the girls to stop, look and listen for more than just crossing the street. We also remind them to pay attention to their surroundings when out on nature walks. You never know what cool things you’ll see, such as insects, birds, nests, animals, flowers and more. The smells of nature can be a wonderful thing too (or a bad thing, depending on where you’re walking!)
Homework: As a special treat, let the kids pack some books, notebooks and/or workbooks and take the day’s classes out in nature too. Sitting under a tree with the view of a lake and a nice cool breeze is a great way to enjoy a good book. My kids get over joyed at the idea of a picnic and get to help with suggestions of healthy finger food that would be easy to carry and keep well in a picnic basket. Hint: ice cream probably isn’t the best choice. For us, that’s a lesson in planning for the weather and nutrition.
How do you make the most of your nature walks? Tell me in the comments.