Educational Nature Activities

Written by Nicole Dean

Since children love to be outdoors, why not give them the full tour of their surroundings. Nature is all around us and it is like a universe all to itself. Show your children the wonders of the outside world.

Visit the zoo. There are zoological parks all across the Unites States, Canada, and worldwide. Zoos have animals form all walks of life in simulated natural habitats. Most zoo parks have lions, tigers, bears, and monkeys. Some have special exhibits of African and Australian animals. There are reptile and amphibian exhibits with crocodiles, giant snakes, lizards, and giant sea turtles. Children will enjoy reading about and visiting with the various animals.

Take a hike, literally. There are hiking trails in public parks and national parks. Start off by teaching your child how to prepare for a hike. They must wear rugged boots to protect their feet and ankles on the rough terrain. They should carry a pack that contains a first aid kit, snake bite kit, a light jacket, a flashlight, bottled water, a compass, a pocket knife, and something to eat. Let them know of the dangers they may encounter and how to stay safe. A nature hike teaches a healthy respect for the environment. Know which bushes contain edible berries if you get hungry and which are poisonous. Kids will learn how to read maps and follow trails.

Plant a garden. Growing your own food is hard work, but rewarding work. Show your children how to take a spade and dig holes to plant the seeds. For kids, container gardening will bring the quickest results for them to see. Plant a few tomato or strawberry plants in a large pot. Let them fill the pot with soil and give them a can to water their seeds. Show them when to check for weeds and how to take care of them. When the fruit and vegetables start to grow watch their eyes light up! They will be amazed at what they have created.

Take the kids on a scavenger hunt throughout the yard. What are you looking for? Let them see how many different kinds of birds they can find. What about other life in the yard? Give them a magnifying glass and turn over a portion of the earth. Let them look and see what they find living just below the earth’s surface. Tons of bugs make up their own tiny microcosm in the dirt. Observing their world may make you squeamish but do it for the kids.

Explore the world below the sea. Visit a national aquarium and learn all about aquatic life. Some aquariums have pools where children can pet stingrays and horseshoe crabs and pick up starfish and sea urchins. The Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has a gliding walkway that moves through a tubular exhibit loaded with fish of all shapes and colors along with huge varieties of sharks. You feel as if they are swimming all around you. Take home souvenir shark teeth and full color posters of the aquatic fish at the aquarium.

Take a fishing trip. Show the children how to hold a rod and reel and how to bait the hook. Make sure that they wear a life jacket at all times in the boat. The important point about fishing is to be respectful of the environment. If a fish is not to be eaten, it should be thrown back into the water. Teach the children about only catching as many fish as you want to eat. Cleaning the catch is a part of fishing also. It’s messy, but the meal will be delicious.

When children learn about nature, they learn a healthy respect for it, too. These activities will give them an understanding of the environment in which they live. Today’s kids are tomorrow’s earth-friendly leaders.

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