The city winter is too long for even the most determined little explorers, and once the warm weather comes back, kids naturally get enthusiastic for nature adventure.
As much as we appreciate the snow cover that gives nature such a calm, peaceful vibe, and the seasonal activities we can only enjoy in the snow, it is hard to beat the serenity of being surrounded by greenery full of lively earthy and flowery scents, under the warm sunshine.
Something about nature in full bloom lifts a big weight off of our chests instantly, serotonin rushing through our blood as we stroll through peaceful scenery.
Especially for kids, nature can be the best place for a sensory-rich learning environment. Kids love discovering new things outside where they can freely explore – which is never quite the same with learning from books or a screen.
As a matter of fact, nature alone can teach kids so much, from physical development to emotional and mental strength. Let your child lead the way, explore their curiosity, and find answers for themselves. Everywhere they look, there will be sensory learning opportunities for your little ones.
Research shows that children involved in outdoor activities benefit from developing their creativity and improving their general focus, which plants the seeds for long-term, healthy growth and positive developmental effects.
Here are a few activity ideas including free printables you can utilize for your little ones’ nature adventure in the coming warm seasons.
Fun and Educational Nature activity for kids
Sometimes kids need a little push for their imaginative nature to kick in. You could provide scavenger hunting clues or a checklist of things for your little ones to look for as they go through their nature walk.
This would also work well if you have unmotivated indoor lovers who do not appreciate outdoor exploration and tend to be more on the grumpy side.
Provide a chance for kids to do a hands-on activity by collecting leaves from all of the different kinds of trees they can find, to create a collage.
You can also laminate the leaves combined with their drawing to create beautiful cards and bookmarks, for a long lasting souvenirs.
Observe and Draw
One of the best ways to develop observational skills in children is by drawing a subject through observation. Let your little one draw wild plants and animals as they explore. Help them to identify the different parts of their subject as they observe, and talk about what features make it unique.
There are over 2,000 kinds of birds in North America alone, with the United States being home to around 1,100 different species of birds, while Canada is host to around 680.
It might surprise many of us to realize, as much as we are used to seeing particular kinds of birds throughout the year, how unfamiliar some of the most common birds and their characteristics might be to us.
For example, while you might not be surprised to learn that the world’s most common bird is the domestic chicken (with over 23 billion in the world), the most common after that is a wild bird called the red-billed quelea (1.5 billion) that lives in sub-Saharan Africa. After that, the five most common birds in the world are native to or common in North America; the mourning dove (nearly half a billion), the American robin (over 300 million), the common pheasant (as many as 220 million, ranging across the northern hemisphere), and the red-winged blackbird (about 210 million).
In the United States, the most common bird is the mourning dove, followed by the northern cardinal, American robin, American crow, and the blue jay.
In Canada, American robins are the most commonly observed, followed by the downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, American goldfinch, and the house sparrow.
As you walk with your kids, you will likely find many chances to discover birds and discuss their features and unique characteristics.
Learning the names of birds and discovering facts about them can be a fun activity, especially for slightly older children. They could capture images of birds by drawing pictures or taking photographs, and later on search for information about each bird to learn about itsnative habitat, what it eats, and so on.
Complete the hiking trail
One of the advantages of exploring nature is that children can test their physical strength by challenging difficult terrain and seeing how far they can go.
Try hiking trails suitable to your children’s ages and conquer them one by one. Setting goals can motivate your kids to be more physically active and give them fulfillment and a sense of achievement.
Nature craft and decoration
Let your kids collect items from their nature walk and bring them home. There are numerous items they could find to create beautiful arts and craft projects or collections for scrapbooking.
Let your kids decorate the house with the collections and creations from their nature explorations, to preserve their happy memories.
Benefits of nature learning for children
Improve concentration and creativity
Studies show that physical movement and activity outdoors can improve children’s concentration and promote their creativity. Kids who engage in nature activities and walking gain long-lasting benefits like increased attentiveness and imagination, which can serve them well in a wide range of school subjects and other activities.
Encourage awareness and love of nature
Exploring nature can make children more aware of their environment and encourage a love of outdoor activity. Helping children develop an interest in engaging with nature could also lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.
Promote physical and mental development
Exposing children to physical activity in nature can help them develop their fine motor skills. From trudging through forests to climbing hills and navigating bumpy terrain, nature is the best motor skill accelerator. Moreover, the natural scents and soothing, peaceful environment can be therapeutic to children, especially ones who are exposed to longer hours of city noise and living with too many technical gadgets around them.
Ability to identify hazards and risks
In nature, children can become more aware of their surroundings, perhaps because the quiet, calm environment gives them a chance to focus their attention on what is happening around them, compared to places that are noisy and packed with people.
Venturing through the ups and downs of natural terrain can seem like an immense challenge, particularly for little children. But once they have finished even an easy trail, gradually accomplishing tougher ones can boost their self-confidence.
Nature exploration is one of the easiest outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy together. Also, with a little bit of guidance, children can begin to independently observe and learn about nature all around them in a sensory-rich environment.
Here are some free printables for nature scavenger hunting, nature drawing and nature collection activities.
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