Nature walks are one of our absolute favourite things to do as a family: they boost well being, 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 to: 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’s a collection 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.
A slightly simpler way of using your nature walk collection is to make a hanging mobile instead (ours currently has pride of place in the kitchen!)
All you need is one sturdy branch, string and a handful of interesting leaves, acorns and seed pods. You can opt to spray paint them like we did or leave in their original state. We plan to do another one of these very soon to reflect the beautiful Autumnal changes that we’re currently witnessing in Canberra.
We love process art so much that we’re planning to do a blog post on it very soon! There is honestly nothing better than starting out with a few materials and going with the flow.
Here I provided the kids (aged one and seven) with leaves, acorns, seed pods and pine cones and let them just go to town with the acrylic paints! Whilst this is super messy, its also heaps of fun too. We did this activity outside on a sunny day so that we could minimise the mess.
Mirror of Discovery
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!
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.’
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
Nature Scavenger Hunt
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!
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!
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.
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 on Instagram. Please get in touch if you have any more nature walk activities for us to try.
A different version of ‘Nature Walk Activity Guide’ originally appeared on Hello Pear! Click on the link to find out more about her beautiful wooden alphabet blocks and story stones.