Outdoor Play: How To Get Your Kids Excited About Nature
If you have made it a mission to get your family to turn the screens off and get out to enjoy the great outdoors, guess what… you are in luck! There are quite a few things you can do inn order to get the kids excited about nature.
The Washington Post says that there are quite a few health benefits related to spending time outside. Also, children who spend a lot of time in nature are better able to concentrate and have a tendency to be more engaging with their playmates. Spending time outside has even been used as a treatment for ADHD and depression.
When you are looking for a few methods to try when it comes to getting the kids up and outside, here are a few ideas.
Lead by Example
When you show the kids just how excited you can get over the local fauna and flora, the kids will get interested too. That doesn’t mean that you have to know everything about nature. Just show that you have an interest when it comes to learning about and spending more time experiencing the wonders that can be found outside. The added benefit of this is that you will be having less screen time too.
Take a trip to the local library and you will find massive amounts of books on nature that were written for children. Check out a few of them and include some on plants and a few on animals. Try to find some with large pictures in the adult section too. This reading material that has a nature theme doesn’t all need to be solely informational. Get a few story books that feature characters who are out and about in nature. This might influence the kids to turn the TV off and head outdoors.
Visit the Same Spots
It has been said that if you visit the same outdoor location repeatedly, the kids will begin to view it as an extension of themselves. For example, if you go on camping trips each year at the same place, they will be more comfortable in the space. This tends to give them almost a sense of ownership when it comes to that little area. It doesn’t have to be just camping though. It might be a lake or beach nearby, a park, or anywhere outdoors. If the kids begin to form an attachment to it, it will naturally follow that they want to keep it protected.
Don’t Make Plans
With schedules that can be busy, sometimes it might feel a bit easier to plan out every detail of your day. Try not to do that when you take the kids out to nature. Be sure that when you go on these adventures, you leave the sports equipment, toys, and electronic devices at home. Yes, the kids might be a little out of sorts at the beginning, but kids are great when it comes to being able to create adventures with a little help from their imaginations. It might be something as simple as identifying different types of plants or animals, or something as involved as an entire outdoor kingdom. Just be sure that you and your family are respectful when it comes to the local wildlife.
It is good for kids to spend time in nature. Playing outdoors helps them when it comes to growing healthy and strong and it allows them to appreciate our world.
At times though, it might be a challenge to get them to drop their devices (not literally) and come back to the real world. There are even more things you can do to help with that though.
Start at Home
Walking around and checking out the neighborhood you live in will give your children a chance to explore the areas that are most familiar to them. Point out the things that change with the seasons or through the years and they will continue to notice things evolving and growing. This is fantastic for those kids who don’t have a great sense of adventure too.
If you live in the country or on a farm, take the kids exploring in the trees and fields that are around you. They might begin to identify interesting animals, trees, plants, rocks, etc., and they will definitely find adventure.
Use the Seasons
Nature is great when it comes to keeping things interesting. In the spring there are baby animals and the fall brings gorgeous colors to the trees. Each one of the seasons offers all new wonders that are begging to be discovered.
Binoculars and Cameras
I gave each of my kid’s cameras when they were young. They relished the chances to capture their own favorite images and I got a lot of enjoyment out of seeing things as they did in their pictures.
Pro tip: Buy cameras for the kids that are used. This allows them to take photos with better quality while not needing to worry about them scratching or even dropping and breaking a brand new one.
When it comes to binoculars, these can really make the kids feel as if they are explorers. Get a pair that is the right size for them and then all you have to do is let them go outside and see what they can see.
Involve Their Friends
A quick way to get the kids to relax and just let loose is to invite a few of their friends on any adventures y’all take.
Be Dirt Friendly
Successful days outside should leave you with messy kids. Make sure that they aren’t dressed in their best clothes before herding them outside. They should be wearing old shoes and clothes. This leaves them free to have fun and dive into whatever adventure they like without having to worry about you scolding them for getting dirty.
Encourage Adventure and Bravery
As a parent, it is only natural to want your kids to be safe. However, at times we need to give them the freedom to try wild and thrilling things. Within reason, allow them to take a few risks so that they will know what a thrill an adventure can be.
Let Them Proceed at Their Own Speed
When your family is spending time in nature, make sure your schedule stays at home. Nothing can ruin an adventure as quickly as having to rush it. Allow the kids their time to relax and enjoy the experiences they are having.
Each child will move at their own speed, whether this is due to personality or age. Let them each have the time they need, and nobody will feel held back or rushed and everyone will enjoy themselves.
Kids love scavenger hunts. To do this, just make a list of some things that can be found in nature or in your neighborhood. The goal is for the kids to find everything on the list. The bonus to this is that you will get a bit of peace and quiet while they are searching.
This is a great way to give your kids a chance to explore nature. They are great when the kids are bored too. If the kids seem to be having one of those days where they can’t settle on something to do, try this.
Let Them Plant Things
Nothing will connect you more closely with nature than having the opportunity to plant something. It doesn’t matter if it is a tree, a garden, or even just a tiny plant, seeing it grow will teach your kids about life, stewardship, and nature. Let the kids play in the dirt. Give them a few seeds or a small tree and let its growth and health be their responsibility. They will learn to feel pride as it thrives.
Get Them into Nature as Much as Possible
Turn exploring nature into an activity that is commonly enjoyed, and they will carry this enjoyment into adulthood. Go for walks, make it a point to stop at places of interest and point out unique leaves or fascinating bugs or even animal tracks. You never know what you will be able to find when you go on nature walks.
Let Them Lead
When children feel as if they are in charge of things, they will be more likely to play along. Let them have a bit of input when it comes to your activities or destinations. You might have family meetings to plan your outings or give them a choice between two different types of outdoor adventures. If you happen to be just hiking down a trail, allow them the opportunity to lead for a bit. Find things that will allow them to lead the way and they will enjoy their time spent in nature that much more.
There will be times when the best method of getting children excited regarding nature is by giving them challenges. Finding animal tracks, climbing to the very top of a high hill, or even catching butterflies are just a few examples of activities that are challenge related.
It doesn’t matter if the fort in question is built in a tree, , or anything else, the creativity and activity of building one will entertain the kids for hours – and sometimes days.
Watch the Celestial Bodies
The sky can be an awesome playground for the imagination of a child. Take them out to look at the stars and try to pinpoint some of the constellations. Watch the sun or the moon rise. Plan for making eclipses something that your family can enjoy together. You might even turn making viewing boxes to watch eclipses an art project that the family can all participate in together.
You might be surprised to learn how many communities actually offer specific outdoor classes meant for kids but that are actually open to anyone. Many national and state parks and even wildlife refuges do this as well. These are great ways to get to explore new and interesting areas in order to get your children excited about nature.
Children will feel close to nature and the outdoors if they learn to care for it. Try setting up a bird feeder on your lawn and allow the kids to have the responsibility of filling it. Let them take pictures of the birds it attracts and get them to identify them.
You can even make bird feeders out of wood or pine cones. This is a great art project for them that will get them even more invested in the experience.
Let Their Personalities Shine
Some kids might be a bit more daring than other children. Plan to let your kids participate in activities that will suit their personalities and allow them opportunities that will broaden their limits. For the more daring kids, find adventures that are exciting and will give them the opportunity to feel their adrenaline pumping. For those children who are a bit more cautious, give them places to explore that are safe so that they will be a bit more comfortable.
For example, one of my children is not a water baby like the rest of us. On a family trip to Gulf Shores, we allowed her plenty of time and the space she needed to get acclimated to the water. We allowed her the option of putting her feet in or not. Eventually, she did get her toes in the waves and had a blast. She felt brave and proud and that one little success brought her a step nearer to having a love of nature that will last a lifetime.
Check Out National and State Parks
Exploring, hiking, and camping make great family vacations and single day outings. National and state parks are also quite affordable. There are even some national parks that will offer free weekends, you just have to do a bit of research to find out which ones and when.
Don’t Give Up
Even when your kids don’t seem to be interested in nature, continue to offer them the chance to fall in love with it. It might take a few years to get them interested in a single aspect of it. Keep the experiences varied enough so that they can find what interests them. Go on frequent excursions and allow and encourage them to keep lists of things they find in nature that interest them.
Hopefully, the ideas you have read here today will allow your kids to get excited about nature. I have actually used everything here myself, and the result is that my kids and I have wonderful memories. However, don’t be surprised if your kids do quite a bit of complaining at first. By the end of your adventure, they will typically be having fun and laughing.
- Fox News, Project Aims to get Kids Excited About Science, Nature
- The Guardian, 32 Tips to get Your Kids Back Outdoors
- Souly Rested, Spring Peepers & 3 Simple Steps to Getting Kids Excited About Nature Study
- RV Share, Getting the Kids Excited About Nature: National Parks Junior Ranger Program