5 Easy Steps to a Great Nature Walk

To us, a nature walk is taking a walk anywhere and noticing the natural things around us. It can be to the park, around the block, at a nature center, or around the backyard. Nature walks are so important to a child’s development. It is a total sensory experience! Here are 5 easy steps to get you started on a proper nature walk and keep your kids engaged.

1. Pick the Place: Seems simple enough right? Pick a place that has enough natural space to allow your kids to explore many different elements. Trees, grass, clovers, flowers, dirt, water, rocks, anything can be explored if you make it fun! We like to walk around our neighborhood, down to the park where there is a lake, or to our local greenway.

 

2. Bags or Baskets: Kids love to pick up special rocks or gather beautiful leaves. This is a great way to get them looking deeper if they know they can bring it along. I love to let our kids grab a small bag or basket. It keeps them from bringing huge items home but encourages them to really get down and explore. It also keeps the fun going when we get home! We dump everything that had been collected out and make all kinds of crafts, compare and contrast items, or simply “ooo” and “aaah” over the things we had found.

 

3. Guide/identification books: We have several pocket guides my kids love. Probably because they are small. We have one for wild flowers, another for identifying animal paw prints. We usually look at these in the car on the way and may or may  not bring them along on our walk. These books help bring nature to life! They make it exciting and encourages kids to engage, find, and seek out these things along the walk. 

 

4. Accessories: We like to bring everybody’s favorite accessory. These are usually a special walking stick or hiking pole, my daughters bear backpack, a pair of binoculars, some jars with holes in them for catching and observing bugs or other tiny critters we find. All of these items just go to further encourage them to really become explorers! Even if they are just pretending this is a great way to get them excited and make it a special experience. (we got these awesome jars from the Dollar Tree!)

 

5. Lead the way: As the facilitator of these little ones learning it is up to you to make it fun, engaging, and exciting to walk through nature. If you are trudging along not enjoying yourself nobody else will either. We love to walk so, so, soooooo slowly, I never hurry them along. They love to look at every twig, leave and flower, and that’s ok. Make sure you go at a time when you are not in a hurry so you can take your time observing. Nature is also one of the only places kids are able to take appropriate risks. It is so important kids are allowed to do this. To take risks and assess their limitations, and make mistakes is as much a part of growing up as learning their ABCs. As long as you are comfortable with the things they are climbing on and the heights they ascend. Use common sense here.

I also encourage a scavenger hunt. This is a great way to get the kids using their senses and asking questions. They are simple ones like, find something green, something fuzzy, something hard, a special rock, etc. Get down with your kids and look too! It seems that they are just as excited when I find a rock I want to take home as when they do. 

 

The most important thing to remember is the reason you want to go out on a nature walk in the first place. Whether it be to learn something new, engage in nature, or just get some fresh air. Keep it light and enjoyable. Make sure to let them touch, feel, jump, climb, and most of all get dirty! Let them be little, and their childhood be magical. You are the one who is able to make these amazing memories with your children. Your kids are sure to have a great time and ask to do it again, and again.