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Learning from Nature

Children learn incredible things from time spent outdoors. When you take your children camping, to a park, or on a hike, they are immersed in the natural world, and can absorb meaningful information about the world around us.  Whether they are looking for crayfish and salamanders in a creek, trying to identify trees and other plants in a forest, or listening for birds in an open field, children are born naturalists. These links have some wonderfully creative ideas for how to enrich your family’s time together in nature.

Take a Nature Sound Walk: This blog post, written by a musician, draws children’s attention to their sense of hearing. There are suggestions for how kids can build listening skills while finding new ways to experience a walk or hike.  What sounds do you think your children could identify during a hike in the woods or some quiet time in the backyard?

What’s That Sound? Nature Walk: Take the concept of a nature sound walk one step further by having your children record and draw what they heard.

Nature Sorting: While the activity in this blog post was created for a long car trip, it can easily be adapted to a nature walk. Give each child an empty egg carton to use as a container, and encourage them to collect items during a hike.  After the hike, look through the egg carton, and think of different ways to separate and categorize their finds.  Some examples could be sorting by color, texture, or shape.  Older children can use field guides or a microscope to help them identify the contents of their egg cartons.

Nature Walk Bracelet: This almost effortless addition to a nature walk will keep kids attuned to their surroundings, and result in a keepsake to remind them of what they saw that day.

Nature Walk Art: Whether your child collects items from the backyard, or from a hike in the woods, this activity helps to extend the experience. Children can create mobiles to show off samples of leaves, acorns, rocks, or other things that caught their eyes during a nature walk.

Nature Walk Craft Ideas: With twelve different project ideas for kids, your family can create many crafts made from natural materials.

Nature Bingo: Young kids will enjoy this game, which helps them focus on the variety of sights, textures, and sounds that are found in nature.

We hope that these links help inspire you to expand the experience of being outside with your children. Informal learning in nature can be a great way for kids to make connections with knowledge gained from traditional academic courses, which helps enrich their understanding of the natural world.  Do you take nature walks with your children? How do you help them extend their outdoor experiences?


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