My buddy Huck and I have this little ritual going on. Every afternoon, round about 1:30, we pile on all of our warmest clothes, strap little arms and legs into stroller parts, kiss the dogs and tell them not to burn down the house, ride that l-o-o-n-g elevator ride down to the lobby, and then we walk. And walk. And walk.
Like those Pioneer Children! Totally.
We don’t know where we’re going to end up and we call it a Nature Walk, even though there really isn’t much Nature where we live and also Huck isn’t really talking yet, so I call it a Nature Walk, but whatever.
After the jump, some Nature Walk ideas, whether your nature walk happens on a trail, near a row of houses in the ‘burbs, in the inside of a shopping mall, or on the congested streets of 5th Avenue.
1. Let your child decide the nature of your Nature walk
Your nature walk can be a Bugs Walk, or a Rock Walk, or a Sticks And Twigs Walk. A “point out all the gray buildings” walk? But keep it consolidated to just one item, and let your child decide what that item will be before you set out. This way, you can get out for quick walks again and again, over and over, without getting bored of the same route. Am I a genius or what? (I got this idea from here.)
2. Take some Nature home with you
Grab a child-size backpack or tote bag and encourage your kids to collect their favorite twigs, leaves, sticks and stones. (This can also help younger children stay focused on a longer walk.) When you get home, haul out the craft paper and Elmer’s glue and get to collaging! Haul out the yarn and wire hangers and whip up a mobile!
3. But also leave some Nature where it belongs
It’s not always terribly kosher to raid your neighbors of their hard-earned flowers, or to remove important flora from the forest, so hand off a disposable camera to your kids and let them take as many photos of their favorite scenes from your walk as they’d like. Encourage their hard work and artistic eye afterwards by framing their favorite photo and displaying it somewhere prominent in the house.
4. Ask a lot of questions
Nothing struck my fancy more as a kid than when my parents asked my thoughts on things. Ask your kids questions about the nature you’re seeing (“Which flower is the best?” “Why do you think that ladybug has so many spots?) and then see what creative reasoning your kids can come up with. (Maybe tell them the right answer, if you know it.) Encourage your kids to dream up crazy ideas, and keep a notebook handy to jot down their really crazy answers.
5. Find Nature in the strangest places
Maybe you live where there isn’t really too much Nature, like me. No sweat, am I right? Nature Walks with Huck will be Color Walks, People Walks, and Pigeon Walks. Maybe you could try Mailbox Walks? Street Lamp Walks? Oh! Cross Walk Walks. I know, now it’s just getting silly.
What do Nature Walks look like where you live?