Nature Walk Activity Guide
By Sian Thomas from @teach.investigate.play
Nature walks are one of our absolute favourite things to do as a family: they boost wellbeing, provide an easy way to spend time together as a family and as an added bonus, are completely free!
Take a minute to think about how you feel after a walk. For me personally, I feel happier, my mind is clear and I'm ready to take on anything. It’s the same for children too: regular walks reduce stress and anxiety and increase attentiveness.
There’s no denying that technology has its place in modern society, but with that also comes the danger of being disconnected from family. That’s why we take regular breaks from it, particularly on weekends, to get a beautiful dose of fresh air.
The fact that nature walks are completely free should really seal the deal. Raising a child in the 21st century is ridiculously expensive at times – the pressure to buy the latest ‘must have' toy or take a day trip to a theme park can leave you wondering how you’ll ever save money for a rainy day. But a weekend walk takes the pressure off somewhat!
Autumn is the perfect time to get outside too as it’s a such a welcome break from the scorching Australian summers. So here are three of our favourite nature themed activities that you can easily tie in with a family walk in the countryside.
We love to collect ‘leaf litter' on our walks. This can be anything that interests us; from huge leathery leaves to the smallest acorn.
To make a tapestry, find four sticks of a similar size and form a square frame. Use string to tie them together (this part requires adult supervision). Make sure you wind the string around several times so that the structure doesn’t fall apart!
Next wrap the string both horizontally and vertically around the frame. Make sure that the string is taut so that items will stay in place.
Finally, weave your nature treasures through the string to create a picture. We tend to just go for the random approach, but if you’re feeling creative, try patterns or pictures within the tapestry.
Mirror of Discovery
Mirror exploration is a great open ended activity for children and helps to develop scientific enquiry. Miss One spent her time placing then removing objects whilst Mr Seven was more interested in mirror symmetry.
Simply place a large mirror outside on a flat surface, then put the nature objects you have found on top. You can talk about how the objects look in the mirror and introduce key STEM words such as ‘reflection’ and ‘symmetry.’
Try using an old or inexpensive mirror outside to explore nature treasures. We did this recently with a ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt' theme and it entertained both Miss One and Mr Seven for a whole morning!
Nature Scavenger Hunt
This activity should convert even the most reluctant explorer. Scavenger hunts help children really open their eyes to their surroundings and obviously make time pass quickly too. There’s also something ridiculously satisfying about ticking items off on a list too!
To add to the fun, it’s worth buying a kid – safe magnifying glass. Mr Seven always relishes the opportunity to seek out bugs, leaves, spiderwebs and sticks using his trusty red magnifying glass!
Government run gardens (such as the Australian National Botanical Gardens) often have free activities for kids within their visitors centre but there are also heaps of free printables online – hello Pinterest!
We hope that you have enjoyed our nature walk activities. We always try and aim for ideas that are both fairly simple and easy to set up. For more activity ideas, check out @teach.investigate.play.
Teach Investigate Play! Is run by British Primary School teacher and mum of 2, Sian Thomas. She currently lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband, two children and their fluffy cat called Zelda! Sian is passionate about providing fun, easy and low-cost ideas for both parents and teachers. You can visit Sian's Instagram page HERE.