Two to three days a week, I put my toddler in a stroller, and my children and I walk or bike around a local lake. We watch the squirrels, pick up sticks, look for turtles and feed the ducks. When we have time, we bring our lunch and eat outdoors. When it warms up again, we'll pull out the fishing gear.
Nature walks are a fun way to homeschool science, and they also give us an opportunity to breathe fresh air and burn off energy. Find a way to incorporate nature walks into your home school routine. Here are 5 tips for making nature walks enjoyable:
1. Wear sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and clothing that is appropriate for the weather. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and lunch if you have time for a picnic.
2. Walk the same route frequently so you can become familiar with your surroundings and better notice differences that come with a change in seasons. Walk at different times of day and during different weather conditions. It is amazing how different a given location appears depending on the season and time of day.
3. Bring a bug jar, a magnifying glass, binoculars and a field guide. Look up the names for different types of plants and animals. Bring a sketch pad or journal to record your findings.
4. Make nature walks fun for younger children by playing I Spy or Nature Bingo, or by planning a scavenger hunt. Give your children sandwich bags and encourage them to collect rocks, leaves, sticks and other items. Keep these treasures in a shoe box at home, or use them in a collage or some other form of artwork.
5. Walk at a relaxed pace, and don't be afraid to slow down or stop if necessary. Give your children time to notice sounds and smells, and closely examine objects of interest. Plan nature walks for leisurely days when you have plenty of time to let your children explore. Nothing ruins the fun like yelling, "Put those pine needles down and keep moving!"
Don't ask me how I know...