While nature walks are a staple part of many school activities or nursery day trips, toddlers can enjoy this fun activity too. With some simple planning, you can teach your child valuable lessons about the outside world as well as having lots of fun and of course, getting some good exercise and fresh air.
Whatever the weather, you can enjoy the out of doors with your child. On a rainy day, wellington boots and a raincoat and umbrella make jumping in puddles an absolute must! There are lots of things you can look for on a rainy day. While you may not see birds flying around, you can listen for their calls. If you live near a lake or pond, a rainy day is perfect for a visit to watch the ducks and other waterfowl enjoy the rain. After the rain is a great time for a wander ? watch out for earthworms coming up for air after rain and the birds they will attract.
Sunny days are a dream for the insect lover so take your child searching for mini-beasts. Collect them in a clean cardboard box for examination or simply watch them go about their business. Even the most squeamish of children are endlessly fascinated by bugs!
Collecting leaves and twigs can keep children occupied for ages ? gather leaves and let them bring some home for identification. While it may not mean much to your toddler when you tell them that this leaf is from a birch tree while another is from an oak, it may sink in on some level so next time you are out for a walk and point out a particular type of tree they are interested because it links back to this activity. Older children will enjoy identifying leaves and creatures they find.
When you come back from your nature walk, help your child make collage pictures using the leaves and twigs that they have brought back. This is an especially fun activity with autumn leaves which will last for longer. Any wildflowers your child has picked can be put in a vase or given away to a neighbour or family member.
Mini beasts should be released back to the wild but this can be part of the fun ? let your child choose a place for the insects to be released.
If you want to create a fun treasure hunt without gathering half of the neighbourhood into your home, then try a treasure hunt. Draw some picture of things you expect to see outside, for example, birds, trees, leaves, grass, ants, worms, snails, puddles, clouds etc., then get your child to mark each one off as they find them on their nature walk. Draw them so that your child can colour them in when they get back home or cut them out of a magazine to make it easier if your own artistic skills are rather lacking! Encourage your child by offering a small prize when they have found the items on the list.