Environmental education works to help kids learn about nature in fun and engaging ways throughout their childhood. The main goal of environmental education is to bring awareness to the natural world and create positive stewards of the land.
Even with this as a primary goal, getting outside and learning about nature will foster essential life skills such as patience, responsibility, and so much more. Time spent outdoors improves academic achievement, strengthens communities, and deepens personal development and well-being.
With all the benefits laid out by countless research studies, the hardest part ends up being the first step of just getting kids outside and having fun. Luckily, there are thousands of engaging and creative ways to get kids out and learning about nature, such as hiking, camping, fishing, stargazing, outdoor crafts, gardening, and so much more.
Outdoor Activities To Do With Your Kids
Here are just a few examples of outdoor activities that you can do with your kids. Each activity offers unique and exciting experiences that can ignite a sense of adventure and wonder in most children.
One of the easiest things to do on our list is to simply get up and go hiking. Hiking often sounds intimidating to many young kids, but it can be anything from a short walk around the local trails to a long-distance trek that takes several days.
Depending on the kid you take out, you can make a short hike longer and a long hike shorter, making it incredibly accommodating.
Kids can start hiking at almost any age. From the moment they walk, you can bring them along and let them move at their own pace. Even before they’re walking, it’s a good idea to introduce them to the concept by carrying them along on shorter hikes.
To make hiking more enjoyable, it’s important to make sure you have all the right gear. Hiking boots that fit properly can make all the difference when walking around on uneven terrain.
For longer treks, you can also bring along ultralight backpacks that make the load you carry significantly easier to bear. These make an excellent choice for kids learning how to hike with backpacks without making it too challenging from the start.
Camping with kids is a wonderful way to create special memories while teaching them about the natural world. Exploring the outdoors, observing plants and animals in their natural habitats, and learning basic survival skills all contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of nature.
Camping can help children develop a deeper connection with the environment and cultivate a love for the great outdoors. They can learn about the importance of conservation, environmental stewardship, and sustainability by practicing Leave No Trace principles while camping.
Moreover, camping provides a unique opportunity for families to unplug from technology and experience the beauty and tranquility of nature. Overall, camping with kids not only creates special memories but also helps them foster a lifelong appreciation for the natural world.
Camping can be an excellent opportunity for parents to bond with their children in nature, particularly when equipped with a variety of activities to keep kids engaged. Establishing camping as a family tradition and gifting camping-related items to children can also enhance their enthusiasm for future trips.
Making plans to go out and spend time next to the water can be a significant experience for kids. When they start fishing from a young age, there will be a massive learning curve until they finally catch their first fish. Once that first fish is caught, there will be a huge desire to get out and try again.
Fishing is also great because you can switch things up and try out fly fishing, deep sea fishing, or stick to your local ponds and lakes. It’s a versatile activity that can get you and your kids outside almost anywhere in the world.
Take the time to learn some stories of the constellations and your kids will instantly be enthralled by the stars above their heads. Push back the bedtime and stay up late enough for the night sky to dance for all to observe.
Many people don’t get the chance to see the night sky in its full glory. Taking your kids far enough outside of the city to see the stars without light pollution can be a formative experience filled with fun.
Crafting with nature encourages children to think creatively and problem-solve, as they figure out how to use and combine different materials. By connecting with nature in this way, children can develop a deeper appreciation for the environment and a greater sense of responsibility toward preserving it for future generations.
Here are five ideas for nature crafts to do with kids:
- Leaf Rubbings: Take a nature walk and collect leaves of different shapes and sizes. Place the leaves under a piece of paper and rub a crayon or pencil over them to create a leaf impression on the paper.
- Rock Painting: Collect smooth rocks and paint them with different colors and designs. Children can also use the rocks to make a nature sculpture or to create a rock garden.
- Nature Collages: Collect a variety of natural materials such as leaves, flowers, feathers, and sticks. Have children arrange and glue them onto a piece of paper to create a nature collage.
- Bird Feeders: Make a simple bird feeder using a pinecone, peanut butter, and birdseed. Hang the bird feeder outside and observe the birds that come to eat.
- Nature Weaving: Create a loom using sticks and yarn. Collect natural materials such as leaves, grasses, and twigs to weave into the yarn to create a nature weaving.
Building or tending to a garden can be a valuable learning experience for children, as they get to interact with the soil and plants they cultivate. Gardening provides a tangible and edible outcome, which can be one of the best parts of the experience. It can also teach children of all ages about the origins of food and the responsibility of caring for a garden throughout the season.
Keeping Your Kids Safe Outdoors
Teaching your kids how to stay safe when spending time outdoors is a crucial lesson that can benefit them for a lifetime. By respecting habitats and learning about animal behaviors, they can share outdoor spaces with wild animals while making responsible decisions for both themselves and the animals.
To become lifelong outdoorsmen, it is important for children to learn how to identify hazards, such as large deadfalls overhead, while setting up camp or hiking. Staying alert and aware is a valuable skill both in the outdoors and back at home!
One effective way to keep kids safe outdoors is to use the buddy system, following the rule of three. This rule allows for one person to seek help without leaving another person alone in case of an accident when venturing farther away.
By acquiring these skills, kids can learn about responsibility and decision-making, empowering them to explore and enjoy the great outdoors safely and confidently.
Teaching Your Kids To Respect Nature
Teaching kids to respect nature is essential for fostering a lifelong appreciation and care for the environment.
One of the most important principles to introduce to children is Leave No Trace, which emphasizes the importance of leaving natural areas the way they were found, without leaving behind any trash or causing any damage.
By following this principle, kids learn to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and develop a sense of ownership and respect for natural spaces.
Additionally, teaching kids about preservation and the importance of protecting natural habitats and wildlife is crucial for creating a generation that values and cares for the environment.
By instilling these values in children, we can help ensure a sustainable and healthy planet for future generations to come.