Anytime the weather is nice, and sometimes even when it isn't we head outdoors to gather leaves, turn over rocks, and hunt for bugs. The best part is that they don't even realize they are learning, as far as they are concerned its just a fun adventure. But armed with a few things in our bag I can turn a simple walk into a mini outdoor classroom. You can, of course, take a nature walk with nothing but yourselves and still enjoy and learn quite a bit. Adding a few items takes it to the next level. Whether you are doing a nature walk simply for fun, to supplement a unit study, or adding in some Charlotte Mason or Montessori activities to your homeschool, nature walks are a fabulous activity for learning- observing, gathering, identifying, and classifying.
Tips for Going on a Nature Walk With Kids
What should I take on a nature walk?
- If you are going to venture farther than your front or back yard I recommend taking water along with you (snacks perhaps for a long walk).
- A nature journal/sketch book is a must, we make our own and toss in a pencil or two to sketch out our write about our finds.
- A camera, I don't always bring one, sometimes I just want to enjoy the walk without fumbling for my camera, changing settings (not to mention the added weight) but it is a great way to capture new finds and smiling children on great adventures.
- A bag or container for collecting specimens- leaves, soil, bugs, or seeds, and we also take our portable flower press to bring home unusual leaves or flowers when a sketch just isn't enough for our purposes.
- Magnifying glass for a closer look- We just picked up this magnifying set from National Geographic and it is perfect for nature studies. Even though it is plastic and pretty inexpensive it has a pretty strong magnifier and comes with excavation tools in the handle.
- Field Guide- If you are looking for something specific like birds, tree bark, or bugs take a book along with you to help identify them. Our favorite is the Take Along Guides, they cover a broad range of subjects and the kids love looking at them as we are out and about. This is the one we have, you can also purchase them in small topic specific paper backs so there is not so much weight added to your bag.
- Specific tools- If you are headed out for a specific reason take along the right tool for the job- binoculars for bird watching, excavation tools for a dig, magnifier with tweezers and a jar for bugs.
- Hand Sanitizer- A simple way to clean up after handling unknown and unknown germs.
- Bug spray/Bite cream- Prevent what you can by slathering on bug spray or cream ( use natural if possible) and treat other bug bites immediately.
- First Aid Kit- A simple one is sufficient- a couple band aids, Neosporin, Itch relief pen, and alcohol wipes.
What should we look for on a nature walk?
Look down- Search for all the different fungi that grow everywhere, take pictures, or sketch them in your nature book to look up and identify once you return home. Investigate plants other than what you commonly see, poke in the soil a bit.
Search under leaves, rocks, and fallen logs for bugs. Before even turning it over the kids discovered what appear to be holes from a woodpecker in a log.
Look up- There are cloud types and shapes to observe, birds, and here we spotted a birds nest. Tree dwellers like squirrels, birds, and others can be found hiding amid the foliage.
Make rubbings of the various tree barks you see and compare what you find. Notice what grows on and around the trees you see, this will tell you a lot such as what kind of plants, fungus, and other growth thrives in the shade.
What are some of your must have items for nature walks?