Getting outside and exploring nature, whether in your own backyard or going for a bush walk is intrinsic to child development. Not only does being outside help to regulate both child and adult emotions but building a connection and love of the natural environment could not be more important than it is right now.
Children find wonder in what we may see as the simplest of things, a rock or a leaf. Do your pockets end up full of treasure collected by your child? Mine definitely do! Nurturing this wonder and resisting the urge to hurry them up to reach your destination is so important.
We want them to be observant and notice the ants on a log and follow them to where they are going, building critical thinking skills. We always take our magnifying glasses to really get up close and investigate things. We always stop to look and feel what is around us. My daughter who is 3 and a half loves moss, she calls it the “little carpets” on the rocks.
Ways you can encourage your little ones to engage in your nature walks:
- Make journey sticks: take some sticky tape or some twine to wrap around a good stick, then collect things along your walk like leaves, feathers and seed pods adding to your stick. You end up with a beautiful nature wand or journey stick at the end.
- Make leaf kebabs: using a stick thread leaves onto it. A great fine motor activity and you can even try and make a rainbow or a pattern.
- Take a basket to collect your treasure. You can then use this in future plays at home.
- Go on a senses treasure hunt: find something hard, soft, crunchy, heavy etc
Remember it is the journey, not the destination. Splash in the puddles, dig in the dirt, collect leaves and rocks and memories along the way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG:
Hi, I’m Liz, mum of 2, and together with my husband we live on a small farm north of Toowoomba. Clever Bugs are everything arts, crafts, nature and sensory play. I provide a range of affordable and quality educational resources for learning through play, some of which I hand-make myself. You can find out more at www.cleverbugs.com.au or follow me on Instagram @clever_bugs where, together with my community of like-minded mums and caregivers, share simple play-based learning ideas.