Monday, June 4, 2012
10 Nature Challenges
With school just about wrapping up here, why not try planning to complete 10 nature challenges this summer. You can keep it super simple or make it more difficult depending upon your families abilities or desires. Here are 10 ideas to get your creative juices flowing to get outdoors this summer.
1. Go on One Hike: Head outdoors for at least one hike. I love hiking with the family as long as we pick appropriate trails. I like well marked, short jaunts (maximum 2 miles round trip) that are not too hilly. For me, I do not like any cliffs or extreme drop offs (plus I drive my husband crazy saying be careful every two seconds). I try and plan our hikes by researching on the internet or using trail books to determine appropriate trails for the family.
2. Start a Nature Collection: Pick one item that you will collect this summer. It can be anything general or specific i.e. a rock collection or maybe only white rocks, seashells or only tiny shells.
3. Follow a Trail Map: Children learn so much by bringing along a trail maps and trying to lead the way. Again, research this and go for a walk where maps will be available and appropriate for children to guide you along the way. We have found that most nature centers usually have trail maps that children can easily follow.
4. Grow Something From Seed: There is a nice sense of accomplishment to start something from seed. Whatever you choose, flower, vegetable or fruit, let the children do it from start to finish. Lettuce is sure to be successful.
5. One Hour No Plan: Head outdoors in the yard, at the park or in the forest with no plan. Let the children guide what to do and just follow along.
6. Go birdwatching: Sounds boring to some but this is actually quite interesting. Again, this is a good one to research a bit before you head out. Maybe the kids can research what birds live where you are heading. Print out a picture and see if you can spot that bird while hiking or enjoying a picnic.
7. Climb a Tree: This one is easy but let your children climb trees.
8. Sketch Something in Nature: I loved this as a child. Head outdoors with a sketch pad and a pencil. Find a cozy spot and sit down and sketch what you see.
9. Find Animal Tracks: Go walking to find any type of animal tracks and identify them.
10. Explore a Stream: Sounds simple and maybe a little wet but my children have spent hours exploring and crossing streams. If you are worried about their feet make sure they wear puddle boots or crocs. Looking for crayfish, minnows and frog hunting is a super fun experience. Half of my kids love to catch frogs and half won't touch them. Bring along nets or wear garden gloves if children are hesitant. We always catch and release the animals.
Whatever challenges and goals you set for your family, everyone benefits from spending time outdoors.