My kids love to go outside. In fact, if weather permits, they want to go outside daily. My eldest, Amaryllis, would not stop asking me if she can go outside everyday. It is her happy place.
Children have the natural affinity to the outdoors. I try to instill a love for nature in my kids, but it is hard to make a concerted effort to provide my children with the opportunity to explore outside everyday, especially since I have a full time job besides being a mom.
However, as the weather is improving, we try to go out and do anything and everything that is possible. I don’t do structure, and just let my kids have free play when it comes to nature. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some ways to teach your kids to love nature:
1. Eat fruits straight from the tree.
We have a little garden at the back of our house and we have a fig tree that bear tons of fruits in the fall season. Our daughters love harvesting the figs. For every pound of figs that they harvested, they probably ate up 2/3 of it. You can try planting something like strawberries which make a delicious snack too. The idea is to teach the kids that fruits come from trees (not just grocery stores!).
2. Plant vegetables and harvest with the little ones.
Last season, we planted a variety of vegetables and herbs together – tomatoes, onions, potatoes, some vegetables and many different herbs. Our daughters loved to help with the harvest. My kids would look for tomatoes to harvest everyday, and it’s a great teaching moment when they have to wait for the tomatoes to turn into red before plucking them off the tree.
3. Allow your kids to gather treasures.
Amaryllis likes to collect sticks and stones from her walks and bring them home. She comes home dirty most of the time, but it’s all good!
4. Give your kids time to explore nature on their own without structure.
Playgrounds are great for burning off the excess energy, but they truly learn when they can explore the natural environment. We are lucky enough to have a playground built in a big park with lots of grass and trees. My daughters love to run around, climb on the logs, jump on rocks, and would use the bushes as hideout places. Even though these are less safe than man-made play, it fosters creativity and allow kids to learn naturally.
5. Create a nature-rich environment at home.
We pepper our home with nature-like decorations like stones, seashells and pine cones. Our kids especially like the seashells. They think they can hear the ocean when they place it next to their ears!
6. Create a bird house and place it at the front or back yard where it’s highly visible.
We have a bird house, and my eldest help to refill the bird feeder once in a while. She loves sitting by the window to observe the birds, and she is starting to identify the birds just by observing and listening.
7. Have nature-based books that you can read aloud to them.
Our bedtime stories consists of books that showcase different bugs. My kids get excited when they can identify a slug, snail or worm in the backyard based on what they have read from the books.
8. Do not be afraid to dig out worms from the backyard.
We do this a lot. My daughters love to get dirty. I just let them dig! It’s a good way to foster curiosity in kids. Make sure you don’t show fear in front of them, and stay calm when they show you their dirty fingers.
9. Go hiking in the nearby trails or parks.
If mountains and hills are not easily accessible, even the local parks will be an amazing activity to do with your kids. You get to spend some quality time together in nature, and the kids get to develop some orientation skills.
10. Go camping.
We tried this with our kids and they absolutely loved it! They enjoyed building the fire for some smores, and loved watching the fire crackle, as well as the stargazing experience. Try to invest in some quality camping gear to make the trip even more memorable.
Nowadays, our children are constantly surrounded by technology. By providing them with the opportunity to slow down, unplug and enjoy nature, we allow them to enjoy their childhood better. Raising nature-loving kids can be tough nowadays, but if we make a concerted effort to take them out, even a nature-based walk around the neighborhood can be an escape to the natural world with the correct mindset.
Do you need tips on how to raise outdoor-loving kids? Check out my other post here.