Thursday, February 16, 2012

guest post: nature walks with your tot!

Today I'm welcoming a guest post from Aileen Stillman from Passionate about helping people discover science and the world around us, she tells us how we can incorporate this learning to our little ones, no matter what their age. I especially love the idea she has of going on a scavenger hunt and making a list of things for your child to find on their outing. It definitely gets me excited for the upcoming spring and summer with a 2 year old to have some educational fun with. So without further ado, I bring to you.....

Nature Walk 101
Going on a nature walk is a great way to get you and your kids up and moving in the middle of a long day. Spring is just around the corner, and when those nice days start to come, you will want to find a way to get out of the house. However, you should also make sure that you are giving your children the stimulation they need to help them learn how to stay sharp and focused. The best way to do all of this is to go on a nature walk. It lets your children burn their pent up energy, gives them a fun learning experience, and gets you all out of the house that you’ve been stuck in all winter.
There are a lot of great things you can do on your nature walk, but one thing you should be sure to do before you step outside is to do some research. You want to be able to point out different flowers, bugs, and plants so your children can learn something new each time you take a walk. Learn about some of the different small animals, insects, and plants in your area, or find a park close by with information about the various living things within the park boundaries. From there, you will be ready to give your kids the valuable educational experience they need.
Just because your baby may not understand an actual science lesson doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from a nature walk with you. A little fresh air is usually good for your little one, and it could help them learn to love the outdoors at an early age. You can use this time to bond with your new child as well. Talk to him or her and describe some of the different things you see. Pick up a flower or leaf and let them examine it. As they grow, they will start to understand and connect the word to the object, and your efforts will help with their language development.
You may still want your child in the safety of a stroller during these months, but you should still give them the opportunity to enjoy nature as much as possible. You will want to keep talking about the things that you see and give them a chance to hold, touch, and feel as much as possible. Give them a flower to hold on to, and talk about its color, shape, and size. Let them take some time out of the stroller and let them pick up leaves. Make a game out of it if you can. Tell them to pick a purple flower, or point to something green. Your encouragement will make them want to learn more.
Small Children
When your child gets old enough, you can really start to teach them about nature. Point out different types of trees and have them repeat it back to you. Learn about different types of insects so you know what to call them when your child brings it up to show you. Create a scavenger hunt on your walks by giving your child a picture list of things to find on your walk, or tell them to find as many different colors as they can and take a picture of each object. Make a collage of the pictures when you get home and hang it up on their bedroom wall. Another thing my kids like to do is find as many leaves as they can and make leaf impressions on paper with their crayons or make other artistic creations with the leaves when we get home.
Your child can always learn something new on a nature walk, no matter how old they are. When they start to write, sit down in a shady spot at the end of your walk and have them journal about the things they see. Bring along a bird identification book and try to find as many as you can. Find a poison ivy plant and teach your child how to spot it and not to touch it. Most importantly, bring lots of snacks and water and have fun making these memories with your child.

Aileen Stillman is the creator of, which is a site devoted to educating readers about their opportunities should they decide to get a Bachelor of Science degree. She enjoys writing articles about exploring the wonders of science and all that the science field has to offer.

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