A Really Big Playroom
One of my favorite times of the year is spring. Trees begin to bud and blossom, birds are building nests, flowers are blooming, and everything is coming to life after a cold winter. It is the perfect time to go outside and start exploring and noticing all the changes in nature.
Our go-to place for our family nature walks is Minnetrista. The East Central Indiana community has a nature study gem so close to home. The Minnetrista campus has multiple gardens and nature areas to explore. Each time we visit, we pick a specific area to observe and enjoy. For our first spring nature walk of the year, we visited the Nature Area (Location: Across St. Joseph St. from the Orchard Shop.)
Tips for Taking Nature Walks with Young Children
- Make sure children are not hungry or tired. If you will be out for awhile, pack a light snack and water bottle.
- Have your child wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- Start off with short walks. Notice the details in the area. Look under rocks, observe flowers up-close, and use your senses to explore the area. With young children, be sure to supervise carefully. Some nature objects are dangerous to ingest or touch.
- Pack special observation tools such as a magnifying glass or binoculars. Depending on where you walk, you might carry a bag to bring small nature treasures home.
- Talk about what you see.
Many times when we go on a nature walk, I challenge my children to be on the look-out for a specific thing. It might be trying to find a cocoon or a bird nest. On this walk we looked for animals and counted how many different types of animals we saw. I made a set of animal I Spy Cards for you to bring along on your next nature walk. How many animals can you find?
“Start to look at the outdoors as an extension of your indoor life….a really big play room. Include your little ones along with your outdoor activities. The simple act of taking a daily walk together will provide more than enough fuel to start the nature study engine. Take it slowly and enjoy seeing the world through your little one’s eyes.” ~Barb from The Handbook of Nature Study
Maureen Spell is a former elementary school teacher who now has a classroom of 6 at home. She blogs at Spell Outloud sharing early education activities and homeschool highlights. All images are copyright Spell Outloud.