Nature opens up the imagination and wonder of children, from the toddler years on. As adults, it’s sometimes difficult to remember the thrill you felt chasing fireflies on hot summer evenings or the excitement of a toad popping up from behind plants. Spending time outdoors exploring nature with your own children brings back memories of those carefree days. As a bonus, your kids get an interactive lesson about how nature works.
Magnifying Glass Exploration
A magnifying glass upgrades a day in the backyard to a scientific exploration. Kids feel more like the little scientists that they are with the tools of the trade. The magnifying glass also gives kids a new look at items they see every day. Encourage them to look at the bark of trees, leaves, grass, bugs, dirt, rocks and other items you find through the magnifying glass. Talk about the differences they notice when the objects are magnified. For older kids, provide a notebook to create a science journal. They can record observations they make and draw pictures in the journal.
Museums don’t have to be inside buildings full of stuffy adults. Make a child-friendly museum in your own backyard. Collect various nature items with your child. If you don’t have many items in your backyard, go for a walk around the block or head to a nearby nature area to collect a few items. A picnic table, patio or deck railing works well for the backyard museum displays. Line up the objects and let your child give a tour of the backyard museum.
Sight and touch are senses often used to explore nature, but the sense of hearing is also useful in discovering things outdoors. Nighttime forces kids to rely more on their ears than their eyes. Head to the backyard and sit as quietly as possible to see what you can hear. This nature activity also works well on camping trips when you are likely to hear more nature sounds with less background noise.
This nature game gives kids a chance to look for specific objects in nature. The game takes a little prep work before you head outdoors. On a five-by-five Bingo grid, write the names or draw pictures of items your child can find outdoors. Each child needs her own Bingo board. The kids look around to find each item on the grid, marking it off when they find it. The first child to find five items in a row on the Bingo grid wins the game. To continue the game, play blackout, where the goal is to be the first to mark off all squares on the grid.