Ways to Engage Kids in Nature

Have kids reflecting on nature

My favorite hobby is getting out in nature. Whether it’s hiking, going to a park, or just sitting on my front porch, I love to be outside. Luckily, my whole family loves to be in nature, even my toddler. She is constantly asking to go to the mountains, hiking, and camping. Here are some ideas to get your child to be a nature lover.

Nature Scavenger Hunts

A great way to get your child involved while hiking or going for a walk is doing a nature scavenger hunt. List nature items in your area that your child might see and find it on your walk. For example, my list would include oak trees, bunnies, birds, water, rocks, honeysuckle, grass, a stick, and poison ivy. (I include poison ivy, so I can teach my toddler what it looks like and to avoid it.) These are all nature items that my daughter will see on our walk at the linear park across the street from our house.

If you want to make it more challenging, print a list of different leaves with the name of the tree. See if your child can find what each tree is in your neighborhood by matching the leaf. A great resource for this is the Texas A&M Tree ID website. You can do the same thing with plants around your neighborhood. 

If you look through Pinterest, there are many available nature scavenger hunt ideas. 

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In order to truly appreciate nature, you have to be still and reflect. Teaching a child to do that is not the easiest. Bring a notepad when you go hiking. When you get to the spot with the prettiest view, stop and have your child reflect. Have him or her identify different parts of nature. Listen and identify different sounds heard. Finally, smell the fresh air. With the notepad, draw or journal what is seen, smelled, and heard. This is a great way to have your child pause, reflect, and appreciate the moment. 

Taking a nature hike with family.Arts and Crafts

Nature is where I find beauty in the world. My toddler is always finding things in nature that she thinks is beautiful. She will hand it to me for safe keeping — and then I’m stuck with all of it in my pockets.

I have started doing nature crafts with her with the things she picks up. These are a few of the simple crafts:

Leaf Painting. Paint the leaf found and press it on a piece of paper.

Wreath. Buy or cut a wooden circle. Then hot glue all of the items picked up from the walk on it.

Rock Painting. Have your child paint the rock with their favorite colors.

Collage. Glue all of the items collected and glue it on a sheet of paper.

For more intense crafts, visit Nature Art For Kids.

ways to keep your toddler active in natureConversing with Kids

When your child picks up a rock, leaf, or anything in nature, have a conversation about it. Is the rock smooth or rough? What color is it? Why do you think it is smooth? These questions can help your child, as he or she gets older, understand the natural world.

Another topic to discuss is protecting nature. Nature is important to our lives and human interactions with nature can have an affect. When you go on your walks, bring a trash bag and gloves to pick up trash or host a trash pick up day in your neighborhood. Talk to your kids about recycling and why it is important. Protecting our Earth is important for future generations.

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Places to Get Outside

There are many places in and around Tarrant County to get outdoors and enjoy!

How and where do you enjoy the great outdoors with your kids? 

Tess is an Arlington native, who only moved away for her time at Texas A&M University, where she obtained an early childhood through sixth grade education degree. After graduation, she moved back to Arlington, started teaching, and married the man of her dreams. She then pursued her masters in mind, brain, and education from the University of Texas at Arlington. She now has a beautiful two-year-old daughter. Tess is currently the director of children's ministries at a church in Arlington. She loves travel, nature, and being with family.


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