Keep this weekend’s Earth Day excitement going with these simple, free or low-cost ways to help your kids connect with nature.
1. First, a suggestion from reader Larry Parnell: Go on a micro-hike. To do this, lay a string about 1 or 2 yards long on the ground, and get down on your hands and knees to investigate along its length with your child. (For multiple kids, you might want multiple strings.) Notice all the small creatures and other objects you can see. Can you identify them? Try looking with and without a magnifying glass. (“Take your time,” Larry says. “This is not a quick hike.”)
2. Make a list of signs of spring and go look for them. Here are some ideas: pussy willows, spring peepers, shoots and buds on plants, and bird eggs (but don’t disturb the nests). Look for signs of life in streams, ponds, puddles, or vernal pools.
3. Plant something. Start small with a flowerpot or window box, or plant a vegetable garden, flower garden, butterfly garden, herb garden, or tree. Or consider joining your community garden.
4. Get muddy. Grab boots and visit a creek or lake where you can skip stones and splash in shallow water while you look for creatures that live there. Bring a change of clothes for the ride home.
5. Watch the birds. Talk about spring migration and go to a nature preserve to see the birds flying by.
6. Have a picnic. Have your kids help you plan a picnic and enjoy eating together at your favorite park. After eating, they can play.
7. Join a work weekend. Local groups offer many opportunities to join in trail work, park cleanup, river cleanup, and other volunteer efforts.
8. Sing in the rain. When it’s raining, head out with umbrellas or put kids in bathing suits and let them run around and splash in puddles.
9. Celebrate outdoors. Plan birthday parties, family visits, or holiday traditions that involve getting outside, even if only for a walk around the neighborhood.
10. Create new games, like racing the wind or lining up pinecones on a log and creating stories about them.
For other simple outdoor activities with kids, see these previous posts:
10 Easy Outdoor Activities with Kids (February 2012)
10 Easy Outdoor Activities with Kids (March 2012)
Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine and Heather Stephenson. Heather wrote this post.
Labels: activities, Heather Stephenson, micro-hike, spring