Summer nature walks with your child

How to make the most of summer nature walks with your child

animals and insects language development outdoor education play summer activities summer fun

Sunshine, warm breezes, and the call of birds – summer is the perfect time to get the kids outside for a nature adventure. It's so simple that a world of nature discovery awaits in your back garden or local park!

You can turn them into nature detectives, wielding magnifying glasses and uncovering the wonders hidden beneath their feet. Who knows what fascinating creatures they might find? As you may have seen in our other blogs, we're advocates for nature walks as they plant the seed of curiosity and open opportunities for conversation.

Another important factor of nature walks is that they help our children understand the importance of our environment and how to care for it. So, let's celebrate summer with this easy outdoor activity with your child. Read to the end as we add conversation openers you can have with your child while out and about.

 

Activity: Nature Detective Training

What you'll need:

• A basket (for collecting treasures)

• Magnifying glasses (optional, but adds a touch of excitement)

• Clipboards with paper and pencils (optional for older children who want to document their discoveries)

• Camera (optional but adds a touch of technology into exploration, and images can be used for further discussion at home)

• A curious mind and a sense of adventure!

 

Let's go exploring!

1. Nature Detective Training:

Introduce the topic by highlighting the importance of nature—the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the beautiful things that surround us. Explain that today, you'll explore like detectives, using your senses to uncover what nature offers. If you bring magnifying glasses, show your child how to use them safely.

2. The Sensory Walk:

Start your adventure. It's super fun to run in the park or forest. Your child will love doing this, which is fantastic. But when you can, encourage your child to slow down a little and take in everything around them when they are ready. Ask questions like:

  • Seeing: "What interesting shapes do you see in the clouds?" "Can you find anything that's blue or purple?" 
  • Touching: "What does the bark of this tree feel like?" "What do the leaves feel like?" "Which is rough or smooth?"
  • Hearing: "Let's close our eyes and listen carefully. How many different sounds can you hear?" "Are there birds singing?" "Can you hear the wind rustling the leaves?"
  • Smelling: "Can you smell something sweet or earthy? What do you think it might be?"

3. Treasure Hunt!

Transform your walk into a treasure hunt by looking for unique natural objects like colourful leaves, interesting rocks with different textures, unusual feathers, or pretty flowers. As your child finds something special, they can add it to the basket. If it's something they can't take with them, take a picture. It's fun zooming in to explore the details of the image.

4. Nature's Quiet Time:

Find a quiet spot to sit and observe. Close your eyes together and listen to the sounds of nature. Then, ask your child to open their eyes and quietly watch the movement of insects, leaves in the wind, or birds soaring in the sky.

5. The Creativity Corner:

Find a comfortable spot to sit. Have your child take out their collected treasures. Encourage them to use their imagination. Can they create a story or a picture using their collection? Discuss their creations together. What did they find most interesting? What surprised them?

Bonus activities to do at home or on the way back

  • Nature art collages: Use the collected leaves, flowers, and other treasures to create beautiful collages at home.
  • Nature scrapbook: Press leaves between sheets of paper to create a keepsake nature scrapbook.
  • Plant detectives: Use a child-friendly field guide (available at libraries, bookstores or online) to identify the trees and plants you saw on your walk.
  • Animal adventures: Research the animals that might live in your explored area. Draw pictures or create stories about them.

 

Looking for conversation openers with your child? Try these on your next nature walk. The right questions can spark curiosity, encourage observation, and ignite a love for the natural world. Here are some examples, categorised to spark different ways of thinking:

Observation:

  • Seeing: "What shapes do you see in the clouds?" "Can you find anything that is red?" "What's the difference between this leaf and that one?"
  • Hearing: "Close your eyes and listen. How many different sounds can you hear?" "Do you think that bird is singing a happy or a sad song?" "What would the wind sound like if it could talk?"
  • Smelling: "Can you smell anything sweet? What do you think it is?" "Does the grass smell different after it rains?"

Imagination and Creativity:

  • "If you could build a house in the forest, what would it look like?"
  • "Pretend you're a tiny insect crawling on this leaf. What kind of adventure would you have?"
  • "Imagine this rock could talk. What story would it tell you?"

Science and Nature:

  • "What do you think this bird is eating?"
  • "Why do you think these leaves are changing colour?"
  • "How do you think this pinecone got here?" (encourages thinking about animals that spread seeds)

Open Ended and Discussion Prompts:

  • "What do you wonder about this tree?"
  • "What's your favourite part of being outside?"
  • "How do you think animals stay cool on a hot day?"

Open-ended enquiries are a brilliant way to learn what your child is thinking and expand their language skills, but it is essential to ask only a few questions in one go and enjoy where the conversation leads.

Remember, the goal is to have fun and spark curiosity in your child about the natural world. Let them lead the way with their questions, too, and explore at their own pace. You'll be fostering creativity and imagination as well as developing observation and sensory skills while they play and learn. Lots of opportunities for sensory play and conversation set a strong foundation for literacy development and a love for their environment.

If you are looking for more ideas on what to do this summer with your child without searching online for hours, download our free summer activity planner with 48 screen-free things to do this summer below.

Happy nature walking!  

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