It’s Summer! That means it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors in all its sunny, warm glory while you still can. Whether it’s a provincial park, the cottage, or the backyard, many of your children’s best memories will be in nature. But getting kids outside is often easier said than done. Enter Cam Collyer. Collyer is the director of Learning Grounds at Evergreen, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to help maintain and restore natural landscapes and to educate and encourage people to be environmentally friendly in their community. Here are his 10 tips for planning a nature expedition your whole family can enjoy.
Dress the kids, and yourself, in clothes you don’t mind mucking about in and bring an extra set along to change into for the drive home.
Try to contain your own hesitations and allow kids to be open to new experiences and explore on their own terms. It will teach them some independence and help them build good judgment with situations that involve risk.
Venture somewhere that is unfamiliar and exciting in your child’s eye. This could be snorkelling in the river, a relaxed hike to a waterfall, or anything else that broadens their idea of nature.
Initiate games that introduce exploration through senses other than sight, like silently stalking the croak of a toad.
Create art by rubbing colourful flower petals, different blades of grass, soil and decaying wood on a piece of paper. This is a great activity for little ones who don’t like getting dirty.
Draw them into the miniature world of nature.
Prepare a list, designate a small area (about 20 feet) and have kids search out easy-to-find wildlife, plants, seeds and cones.
If a child enjoys art, have him draw what he sees. If a child enjoys sports, encourage her to run around and make a map of the area.
Stake out a square foot section of ground with popsicle sticks and connect the sticks with string; this will be your children’s miniature park or zoo. Have them get down on their bellies to scope out all the mini-beasts they find.
For plants that you stumble upon, make a game out of naming them and encourage children to use their senses when determining their new monikers.