How to Help Kids Connect with Nature on a Nature Walk

Did you spend your childhood up trees, rolling down hills and frolicking in mud?

Can you tell a beech tree from a maple, or identify three different wildflowers?

Is that the kind of childhood you want for your own children?

Get them started by introducing a regular family nature walk.

Whether you have time for a daily walk or just a weekly one, the benefits of spending time in nature are manifold.

Getting kids out into the garden for some fun free play using their imagination is one thing, but a nature walk can open up a whole new world of possibilities and adventures.

Not only will a walk bring your family closer to nature, it will also help to develop family bonds and closeness, and could be a fun learning experience for you all.

Even if you are town or city dwellers there are ample opportunities to explore and discover nature close to home.

Even if your child currently recoils in horror when confronted with a minibeast or doesn't even know what a dandelion looks like, you can change that.

Head out each day in a different direction, into parks or woodland, down alleyways, onto beaches or into any public space where nature thrives.

Some towns will have brownfield sites that are open to the public and teeming with grasses and wildflowers, while others will have wildlife gardens and small meadows left for nature to take over.

As soon as you start to look, more opportunities and areas will present themselves.

You'll be surprised to find that you don't live in quite the built up urban environment you thought you did.

Find opportunities for your kids to be surrounded by trees, not buildings.

Encourage them to exchange screens for sunshine, and you could have a new child and a new interest.

There are many benefits to getting kids outside.

Research shows that regularly spending time in nature:
  • Boosts happiness
  • Reduces stress
  • Restores calm
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Improves circulation and co-ordination
  • Encourages healthy sleep patterns
  • Teaches essential skills and knowledge
  • Creates connection with nature
  • Develops problem solving skills
  • Encourages imaginative and creative play
  • Helps strengthen family bonds

So I've convinced you to go out, now what?

7 Ways to Help Kids Connect with Nature on a Nature Walk

1. Be still

Sit or stand still and listen to nature all around you.

The whistle of the wind, the buzzing of insects, the rustle of small creatures in the grass or hedgerow.  

Tell them to feel the sun on their skin, the breeze in their hair.

What else can they smell, feel, hear?

You could even turn this stillness into a mini meditation that will help all of you to centre.

2. Take binoculars

Look up into the trees or observe water birds on a lake or across a river.

Look into the far distance, what can you see?

Take a small bird guide to identify what you see.

3. Search for treasure

Take a small bucket and a magnifying glass out with you.

Look out for interesting treasures to examine or collect.

Sticks, conkers, stones, acorns, leaves.

Remember to pick up, but never pick from a living plant.

You could use a scavenger hunt to direct kids, or just let them wander and find whatever they are interested in.

They can even use sticks or sharper stones to dig in the earth.

4. Make and create

Use your collection to create art out of your treasures. 

Arrange leaves and twigs into a picture or sculpture, be sure to take a photo before you leave it!

You could also use natural materials to build a fairy house, a raft or boat.

5. Play in water

Float your raft or boat across a pond or down a stream or river.

Play Pooh sticks, skim stones, look for frogspawn and fish, paddle and play.

You could even go for a wild swim if it's warm enough.

Remember to always keep a close eye on kids in nature, especially if you are near water.

6. Examine specimens

Take a bug catcher with you and pick up interesting insects you spot.

We love these pocket identification guides to find the name of what we've found.

Remember to release bugs quickly and always put them back where you found them.

7. Observe and sketch

Start a nature journal or notebook each and take it with you so kids can record what they see.

Observe things carefully to draw them, or write some notes on animals' behaviour.

This is adaptable for all ages, from a toddler's squiggle of a stone to a teen's recordings and sketches of the world around them.

What should we take with us?

You don't actually need to take anything, apart from yourselves, as nature will provide all the entertainment you need.

But if you do want to get a bit more up close and personal with plants, birds and minibeasts, these may help:

You will also need:
  • Water
  • Snacks or a picnic
  • A bag to collect trash for recycling - helps encourage a respect and care for the world

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