Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Exploring on a Nature Hike



Today was Earth Day and it was such a great day. I knew it was going to be great because when we checked the garden this morning we found the first zucchini flower of the season! My little guy was pretty excited about it.  He's been waiting so patiently for the vegetables to grow and I told him we should have some zucchini very soon! When we came in, I had an Earth Day activity book for him to color and we read some books about the Earth together.


I planned a little nature walk for us to do so that we could explore and learn more about the Earth and our environment. We have a wonderful nature reserve close by with a nature discovery center and many trails to walk. My little guy (and my teenager) love to look and learn in the discovery center, which is what we did first. They have displays of the different types of habitats in our area, which includes marshes, wetlands and scrub areas. There are plenty of hands on learning activities as well!

                                              (yes, my little guy is literally a tree hugger already:)

When we were finished in the discovery center, we chose our trail and headed off. We walked under huge canopies of oak trees and through open areas of palm trees. We walked along the trail beside the lake to the dock and observed the different birds and other wildlife. We walked through a swamp and stopped to watch as a small alligator scurried across the path. We stopped and talked about how old we thought the trees were and saw a small green snake staring out at us from a hole in one of the them. We listened and heard woodpeckers pecking away in the trees, while my little guy counted how many woodpecker holes he saw in them. We also saw chameleons, skinks, frogs, caterpillars, butterflies, dragonflies, and a beautiful bald eagle among other birds. It was a day full of discovery and learning in the best way possible. There is no better way to learn about nature than by actually being out in it and experiencing it! As one of my favorite sayings goes "Think outside. No box required!"



Here are some things that help us make the most of our hiking experiences:

Be Prepared
Make sure you have everything you need to make the hike enjoyable. Comfortable shoes, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, bug spray, snacks and water are a must. If you have a small child, a stroller or backpack carrier are also helpful.

Let the Kids Choose the Pace
This might seem like a hard thing to do, but I find that if my little guy finds something he wants to stop and look at, it keeps his interest level high and wards off boredom for him. We will stop and look at the bug or squirrel or whatever it is he finds to be interesting, and talk about it for a few minutes and move on. 

Have a Few Fun Activities in Mind for the Hike
Sometimes kids will get bored or tired after a long walk. Have some fun activities on hand in case this happens. Have a list of your local birds and flowers handy (alot of times you can get this from the welcome center where you are hiking at) and mark off the ones you find. Make a scavenger hunt list or print out one like this to do on your hike. Bring a camera and take pictures to make a nature journal of your favorite things from your hike. 

Get Excited
Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the wondrous nature around us. While we help our children to learn and discover things, they can also help us to open our eyes and see things anew. Take cues from them and get excited with them about all of the nature around you. My little guy stopped to observe a caterpillar for ten minutes! He was fascinated with it's furry hair and the way it slowly went along, it's body moving up and down as it went. There are so many things in nature to get excited about!


Happy Hiking!







11 comments:

  1. Great ideas. We love hiking at our local nature center as well. They have live animals that my kids never tier of looking at.

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    1. My son as well! The animals and critters are his favorite part of the hike!

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  2. Really nice post! I love spending time outside with my 2.5 year old son as well. He is so happy on the days he gets outside and the opposite when we don't! Your advice about going at their pace hits the nail on the head. I had to learn to do this when my son was just a toddler and wanted to stop and look at everything when I was used to walking quickly. Anyway, we have had a free printable springtime scavenger hunt booklet that you can make with your kids over at my site www.onetimethrough.com. I'm planning on doing a post later this week to show how we made our book together. Check it out if you get a chance. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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    1. Thank you. I will check that out. I'm sure my son would love to make it! Sometimes it is hard for us grown ups to slow down but it is so worth it! Thanks for looking!

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  3. Great advice!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

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  4. Great Ideas! My son is thrilled to be outdoors, and I'm hoping we'll be able to keep enjoying some nice weather here for more frequent nature hikes :)

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    1. Me too! Nice weather makes hiking so much more enjoyable!

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  5. These are wonderful tips. I'm featuring it on Tuesday Tots this week over at One Perfect Day. Thanks for linking up.

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  6. Hey thanks for your effective hiking tips. When going for hiking we have to do lots of planning in our mind and prepare to make the hiking successful.

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