February 5, 2015

Try these 10 fun family activities we found on Parents.com to spark your child’s interest in the natural world and to build their imagination, inquisitiveness, and compassion.

Get Growing
Get your child to plant a flower, vegetable, or herb (quick-to-sprout plants such as marigolds, basil, or tomatoes can offer fast, rewarding results). Invest in small but sturdy gardening tools, and let your child dig a hole and plant the seeds. Teach them to care and water their plant regularly.

Go Bird-Watching
The next time you head outdoors with your child, bring a pair of binoculars. Survey trees, bushes, telephone poles, and grass for feathered friends. Observe a bird’s colours, size, and behaviour. Listen to its song, and watch how it flies. Younger kids will need you to tell them what they’re seeing, but older kids can make notes and later identify the birds in books or online. Attract birds to your yard with a birdbath, nest box or even a DIY bird feeder, which you can find in our previous posts.

Stroll With Your Senses
Teach your kids to explore the woods with eyes, ears, nose, and fingers on high alert. Bring a magnifying glass or binoculars for a close-up look at plants, flowers, and trees. Peer under logs and rocks for insects and other small creatures.

Gather Nature’s Collectibles
Help your child turn nature’s debris into a fun hobby. Young kids can gather colourful and unusual leaves, small rocks, twigs or feathers from the ground and showcase them by making their very own craft project such as a nature canvas print, hiking stick, nature suncatcher and a pebble dominoes set.

Bring the Outdoors In
Continue the lessons with books and magazines or trips to museums, aquariums, and nature centres. Many of these places allow children to touch natural objects and study plants and animals up close. Also look for local nature classes, workshops, and activities just for kids or even jump on our website for outside activities.

Catch a Critter
Ladybugs, grasshoppers, and fireflies make kid-friendly specimens. Use a bug inspector ecosystem which can be found in our previous blog posts to examine and discover the finer details of insects and small critters.

Pick Fruit
A trip to a berry farm, an apple orchard, or a pumpkin patch teaches kids that produce doesn’t come from the supermarket. Ripened blueberries and raspberries are edible right off the branch. If your child likes to eat apples off the tree, make sure they’re organically grown. When you get home, make a pie, a cake, or jam to show how nature’s bounty can be put to good use.

Gaze at the Stars
Check out astronomy books, or visit an observatory to learn what different constellations and planets look like. On a clear night, go outside with binoculars or a telescope.

Enjoy the Weather
Look at the clouds, and ask your child what shapes and images he sees. Take wind chimes, kites, or flags outdoors to illustrate how a blustery wind can set objects in motion. Dress your kids in the right gear, and let them stomp in the rain or snow.

Celebrate the Sunrise and Sunset
It happens every day, yet few of us take the time to catch the changing hues of the morning or evening sky. If your kids are early risers, take them outside to listen to birdcalls and note the flurry of activity shortly after sunrise. Budding artists can draw what they see. Older kids can record the moment the sun appears on the horizon and note how it changes as the days pass. At sunset, enjoy the sky’s multicolour show, and look and listen for nocturnal creatures.

Live outside the box at Watagan Park

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