My favorite memories growing up were the ones spent in nature. You could find me with dirty bare feet up some tree in just about every season. A couple days out of the week, Mama would take my siblings and I out on hiking trails or on walks in the park. We had a thing for venturing off the beaten path, making our way through the trees and little bits of open field to find all kinds of plants, rocks, and animals. Looking back on my childhood, I remember more joy and peace in those moments of soaking up nature than the memories spent indoors on my phone.
“I am at home among the trees...” - J.R.R Tolkein
I wanted to share with you a few nature activities for caregivers and kids that I hope will create lasting memories for you and your family!
Here are three ways to take advantage of enjoying the outdoors.
Nature Journaling and Pinwheel tools.
The art of noticing the small and beautiful details can begin with nature journaling. Grab a notebook or a drawing pad and head outside to a park, a trail, or even your backyard. If taking electronic notes is preferred, the Pinwheel phone has two apps that your child can take notes on: Notebook and ColorNote!
First, find a place to sit still.
Quietly observe your surroundings.
Notice the details of a flower, how many petals does it have?
Does a tree have rough or soft bark? Are there little bugs on its leaves?
How many colors are on one rock? Is it a smooth rock or does it have rough surfaces?
Look about and all around you to see, hear, smell, and slowly take in how these things make you think and feel. After observing, write it down. Sketch it too! There are indefinite ways to look at one piece of our world, and you are looking at it in your own unique perspective.
Outside Scavenger Hunt
Making nature into a game is exciting! I put together a list for you that might be fun to explore!
Pro Tip- When collecting the items on the list, try this. Grab some duct tape and make a bracelet with the sticky part facing out! As you and your child find things, gently place them onto the top of the bracelet. At the end of the hunt, you’ll have a collection of all the things you found securely fastened onto a beautiful band.
10 Items to Find on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nut. (Such as an acorn or a pecan)
A tiny pebble.
A heart shaped leaf.
5 little flowers.
A berry! (Don’t eat it without being completely sure it’s not poisonous!)
Something purple or blue.
Along the way, notice all the other little things that might not be on the list! Feel free to offer bonus items such as something that makes you laugh or smile, for example, a ladybug or a shell. You can return the items back outside or keep them in a safe place such as a nature box.
Perhaps one of the most satisfying nature activities is bark and leaf rubbing.
Placing a white sheet of paper on the side of a tree or on top of a leaf, press firmly as you rub a pencil or crayon horizontally across its surface in wide strokes. You may have to practice this a few times to make a good rubbing of your object! This activity can reveal details of your bark or leaf that was hidden before.
I hope as you venture outside that you notice all the beautiful details, the small intricate things that you have to search for. Taking a break from screen-time to go outside in nature has so many wonderful benefits, and I guarantee being outside improves your mood. It is a very freeing experience!