Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mother Nature's Playground

It’s Autumn-time! It's my favorite time of year! Although fleeting here in Utah, I love the cool, crisp air, the scent of falling leaves, and the bursts of color in the mountains that Autumn brings.

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The other day I was at a family hot dog roast for my Grandma’s birthday. All of the little kids kept coming up to their parents with armfuls of acorns and colorful leaves from my aunt’s trees. I remember that when I was little, I loved collecting “treasures” during the fall and going on nature walks. With the change in seasons, there are lots of “new” things to look at, which makes an autumn nature walk an intriguing activity for both younger and older kids. Getting out of town to do a nature walk can be fun, but they can still be great even in your own backyard! 

Below are some ideas of things to think about when preparing to do a nature walk with your kids:

1. Have a checklist. Make sure it is appropriate to the age of the child, and to the items you might see in the location you are going. You can either make your own, or download one from the internet (just search “checklist for a nature walk”).

2. Decide if you will have the kids gather the items they see, take pictures of them, draw them, etc…

3. Don’t forget to bring a box or bucket to carry the treasures in if they will be bringing them home. For young kids just learning colors, you can get an empty egg carton, glue a differently-colored piece of paper in each hole, and have kids find items that match.

4. If you do have kids collect items, think of fun, creative ways to display their treasures when you return. They can be put in a clear jar, glued to a paper, or even just stored in a plastic bag.

5. Binoculars and magnifying glasses can make the adventure even more exciting!
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6. You can also bring crayons, pencils, and a sketchpad for kids to draw what they find.

7. For older kids, books to identify plants, animals, and birds may be fun.

8. Bring a camera to photograph animal or insect species your children can later identify.

9. Depending on where you are going, you may want to talk with your kids about being quiet while on your nature walk… especially if you want to see animals.

10. While on the nature walk, don’t forget to stop and take time to use other senses… listening, smelling, touching, etc…

11. Take time to look under rocks for lizards and insects, look at the shape of a leaf, and inspect the details of a flower.

12. Use the opportunity to teach developmentally appropriate lessons to your kids – shapes, colors, numbers, etc…

13. Some more great ideas can be found on these websites:

Have fun on your nature walk! Please comment below if you have other suggestions.

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