A nature walk with kids is the best way to start to encourage their interests in the outdoors and wildlife. I especially love it as an activity because you can do it straight away with no special equipment, it’s free and you can do it on your doorstep no matter where you live.
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- 1 What do you do on a nature walk?
- 2 How do you make walking fun for kids?
- 3 Things to look for on a nature walk with children
- 4 My tips for going on a nature walk with kids
What do you do on a nature walk?
Nature walks are just that: walks in nature. And of course, nature can be found everywhere from deep in the forest, to walking along a coast and even in the centre of a city so really, a nature walk can simply be a walk outdoors where you focus on what’s around you.
There are no hard and fast rules of what makes a nature walk – just go out and enjoy and try to make it something that you do regularly.
How do you make walking fun for kids?
My biggest tip for this is to try and make it a regular activity and one that isn’t a chore. So that might mean making them really small walks at the beginning or making them focused on nature while walking to the local park so they get a reward at the end.
Taking a picnic is also a good motivator for kids to get to a certain point and keeps them outdoors for a bit longer.
Circular walks, if they aren’t too long can work great especially if there are some interesting things to find as you’re going around.
Take note of your child’s attention span, likes and dislikes and adapt accordingly!
Things to look for on a nature walk with children
There are so many things to find on a nature walk with children – where to start? Perhaps look for bugs, mammals, listen for birdsong, animal prints and signs, pond life, different flowers, colours, textures. It all depends on the ages of your children – pick one thing to look for or simply ask your kids to report to you as they walk on what they find the most interesting? It will almost certainly be something you wouldn’t expect.
My tips for going on a nature walk with kids
1. Have a theme
I don’t do it all the time, but one thing we used to do a lot was have a slight theme to our nature walks. When we were walking we’d concentrate on finding specific things, perhaps bugs or different leaves on the trees. Having some form of structure is especially good for children who might not be too happy just to go for an ordinary ‘walk’.
2. Use scavenger hunts
Even young children can enjoy nature scavenger hunts and again, like the theme idea previously, it gives some structure to your nature walks. They can be as simple or as in-depth as you like and you can make them yourself or buy some ready-made ones. My favourite go-to scavenger hunt idea is to find colours on your walk. Green is normally pretty easy!
3. Go off the path
Don’t just stick to your normal routes, get off the path and explore some places you’ve never been before! Our favourite walks often involved us wandering away from the main route and into the woods where the kids would almost always find a tree to climb and play on.
4. Be enthusiastic
It’s really important that when we take kids out on a nature walk that we’re enthusiastic ourselves. Be excited about seeing bugs or hearing a bird song and don’t expect your child to just know what to do on their own and without a little bit of guidance.
5. Take spotter guides or books
Whether you’re pretty knowledgeable about nature or if it’s brand new to you, spotter guides that are aimed at young children are great. Don’t feel like you need a more in depth one – the basic kids books will start you off perfectly. I really like the RSPB books like this one which is a good level for lots of ages. Do check out libraries too as many of them will have books that will be helpful for your nature walks.
6. Bring nature journals
Nature journals are one of my secret weapons to make nature walks fun for kids. Mine loved to sit and draw so we’d find something we wanted to look at more, sit ourselves down and make a sketch of it. Sometimes that would last 5 minutes and sometimes we’d sit for much longer but getting in the habit of adding in drawing is a great idea.
Nature journals don’t have to be just for drawings though. We often looked for flowers we could press and add to them, feathers to stick in and you could even add in tree bark rubbings too.
7. Use your senses
Try to involve more than just your eyes when going for a walk. Think about the different textures you can feel with different tree trunks and talk about those. Listen to the bird songs and see if you can identify any. Smell the flowers and decide which one you like the best. Tasting is a little trickier I will admit, although when it’s blackberry picking season you can definitely taste those!
8. Take pictures
With our phone cameras, it’s never been easier to take some interesting nature photography and most kids really love to get interesting angles and pictures of the nature they find. If it’s something you think your child will enjoy then encourage them to add it to your nature walk ideas.
9. Don’t go too far
While a nature walk for kids is a great way to get some activity into their day, don’t make the mistake of needing to walk for miles in order for it to count. Small walks where you are incredibly focused are just as valuable. They don’t even need to be specifically labelled as such – turn your walk to school in to a nature walk too!
10. Take your time
Finally, take your time and if your kids want to stop and explore let them. A nature walk might bring about all sorts of questions where you’ll want to check your spotter guide, or maybe take a photo or even draw a quick sketch. Having the time and patience for these stops on your walks will pay off in dividends as you help to increase their confidence, concentration and perhaps it will even spark a life long interest!
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