Remember when you were a child you were constantly out and about, playing in the trees, being at one with nature? If the answer to this is yes, you will know that playing outdoors and enjoying nature is something that every child should experience. But with children spending more time indoors than ever before, you may be wondering how to get kids into nature more than they currently are.
It’s obvious, kids need fresh air, in fact we all do. Families who find ways to get kids into nature and involved with the outdoors will find a whole host of benefits, including improved conservation ethic, happiness, health, creativity and concentration.
If you are worried that your children are not getting outdoors as much as they should be and you are stuck for ideas on how to get kids into nature try a few of these suggestions:
Once your children have been introduced into birdwatching, their love of nature will naturally evolve. Birdwatching allows them to look at the ground, into the sky, and everything in-between.
Try and teach your children about the birds in the region, and in the back garden! Observe the colour, behaviour and sounds these feathered friends make. The next time you head outdoors bring along a pair of binoculars, and watch as they scour their surroundings.
If you want to attract more birds to your garden, investing in a good bird feeder, and some tasty bird treats will ensure they keep coming back for. As it is winter, laying out a couple of suet balls will give the birds an extra energy boost to help them thrive in the cold months.
Gather nature’s freebies
Help your child make the most of all that nature has to offer. Younger kids can gather pine cones, acorns, conkers and colourful leaves. If you live close to a beach, look for pretty shells and rocks on your walk. Bring them all home and keep them in a shoebox as part of a collection or find somewhere to display them. You could even do this as part of a scavenger/treasure hunt.
Give your child their own patch in the garden or flowerpot. You can let them plant whatever vegetables, flowers and fruits they want. But fast growing plants such as basil, tomatoes or basil can can yield quick rewards. Teach them how to water plants and be careful not to over direct their gardening efforts.
Appreciate the seasons
In the UK, we are lucky to have such varied seasons. Look into the clouds and stare at the different shapes with your children. While we all love hot, sunny weather, don’t forget that this winter weather can be fun too. Dress your kids in the right gear and watch them play in the snow and jump into the puddles. You could even watch a thunderstorm from afar in your cozy home.
Kids are fascinated by insects, I know I was. Ladybirds in particular make perfect kid-friendly specimens. Armed with a magnifying glass and a small net, help your little bug catcher capture these little critters. Once caught, place in jar or container with some leaves and a couple of twigs. Make sure you punch a couple of holes through the container and replenish the leafs and twigs every couple of days.
A walk in the woods, or somewhere that produces local produce teaches children that food doesn’t just come from Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Ripened raspberries and blueberries are perfect for picking right off the branch. But beware of blackberries! As these delicious berries tend to be attached to a thorny stem. When you return from your foraging adventure, why not get baking? Make some jam or a cake and show them how nature’s loveliness can taste so good.
Use technology to your advantage
You can encourage your child to take a camera and take photos of interesting things they find out on their nature walk after which they could create a photo journal. We have also had lots of fun using Plant Identification apps which is a great way of not only getting kids into nature but learning about it too.
Do you do any of the above to help get your get kids into nature? What else do you do to encourage them to connect with the natural world? Do share in a comment below.
To help your children get the nature bug, we’ve teamed up with Learning Resources for a chance for one lucky reader to win a newly launched GeoSafari Jr. Talking Wildlife Camera (RRP £60) from Learning Resources..