Fresh air (maybe bare feet) and grubby hands – that’s what a nature walk is all about! My ideas about exactly how a nature walk should work have changed a huge amount since having my son…. So here are 2 groups of ideas, one for rambling along with a toddler (below) and the other for nature walking with a school aged class.
TODDLER RAMBLING DO’S:
- DO give up any ideas of having a destination to reach….. Just bumble along at their speed and try to be patient. If you feel yourself getting the urge to hurry them along, practice doing some deep breathing, take some photos of your little explorer, or do some gentle stretches!
- DO be guided by what interests THEM. You may be very excited by a stunning blossom, but they might be enjoying picking up tiny bits of gravel or poking a twig into the dirt – and that’s totally fine!
- DO use lots of words to describe what they’re doing/touching/smelling/seeing etc. Talking about their 5 senses is a good place to start.
- DO take lots of photos of their special treasures so you can look at them later and talk about your adventures (Have a peek at our Upcycled Toddler Board book post for more ideas!)
- DO discuss showing respect and being gentle with living things – talk with them beforehand if there are specific things that they can’t touch or collect such as mushrooms or insects. Talking about where little creatures live is a great way to nurture empathy (e.g. let’s roll that log back over – it’s where the beetle’s home is!)
- DO remember safety first. Always watch carefully to make sure nothing icky ends up in their mouths, and that they’re wearing appropriate clothing and footwear.
- DO choose a nature walk location that’s not too stressful for you (e.g. the beach at low tide is a more relaxing ramble than trying to wrestle them out of the high tide every 3 seconds!)
- DO take along a camera, a little bucket (to save your pockets from getting filled with gooey things!) and if your toddler is older, a plastic magnifying glass.
- DO have a special place at home where they can keep their natural treasures. My little man stores his nature finds at the base of a sturdy outdoor pot plant (perfect for things I’d rather weren’t brought inside!) and in the base of a dried Nikau palm frond inside (but any container made of natural materials would be perfect). He periodically pulls things out, puts them into different containers, takes them out to his water tray and enjoys banging them together. ‘Nature tables’ for this age don’t need to be anything fancy, just make sure they can reach their treasures!
TODDLER RAMBLING DON’TS:
- DON’T make a big deal about dirt, mess or mud. You might want to set aside some special ‘exploring clothes’ that you wear on your adventures so you can just let them enjoy nature! Pack a spare change of clothes and if they do get really dirty make sure you get some good photos!
- DON’T stop them poking and whacking things with sticks (just make sure they know what they can and can’t poke (e.g. it’s ok to poke the dirt and whack the rocks; it’s NOT OK to poke people or bugs etc.)
- DON’T make going on a nature walk a ‘big thing’ – depending on the age and attention span of your toddler, A daily 10 minute potter around your garden or local park/beach is perfect, and much more preferable than an occasional long walk. Have fun!
Thanks for popping by!