Much has been said about the benefits of outdoor play for kids. Exploring and being in contact with nature is a great way for kids to learn and play.
However, being city dwellers with a busy schedule, it is sometimes challenging to get out of the four walls to get in touch with nature.
If you are a busy parent, bringing the entire family out to explore nature might sound like a tiring and impossible task, especially if you are a working parent.
The only time you have will be in the evening after work or during the weekends.
Although I work from home, the kids go to school during the day. So, the only time we can bring the kids out for some nature is during the weekends or school holidays.
These are some of the things we have done with our kids to explore nature:
1. Go on a scavenger hunt
Give the kids a list of items to hunt for. Bring them outdoors and let the fun begin! The best thing about this activity is you do not have to travel far. Our kids had their scavenger hunts down around the neighbourhood. Just be sure that the area is safe from traffic.
Here is a list you can download, if you do not wish to crack your brains to come up with a scavenger hunt list. I know, you are a busy parent! 🙂
2. Hunt for insects
Bring your kids to the park or take a walk around the neighbourhood and see how many insects they can spot.
To make it more interesting, give your kids a magnifying glass each. They will be looking at everything through the magnifying glass – flowers, grass, a grain of sand, pebbles… in fact, anything they can find. Trust me, the kids will spot many other things that will get their attention, besides insects.
This activity can be done with our without a magnifying glass.
3. Collect leaves and create art with them
All three of our children have done this before and they love it.
I have brought each one of them on a solo leaf collection trip, just down our block. We walked around the neighbourhood in search of fallen leaves of various shapes and sizes.
It was a peaceful and great one-on-one bonding time with each of my kids. We usually managed to find quite a number of different types of leaves.
When we got home, I let them create art pieces with these leaves. They have tried painting the leaves, doing stamping with them and gluing the leaves onto drawing paper to create lovely art pieces.
4. Play with sand
Our kids love sand. One of the ways we get them in touch with nature is to play with sand, both at the beach or playgrounds filled with sand.
Sand play is a great sensory activity for kids. It gets them to develop their creativity too when they start building stuff with sand!
5. Catch fish
In Singapore, we do not have rivers for kids to explore and fish. The only one we have been to is Bishan Park. There is a river that flows through the park and you can sometimes see families and children trying to spot or catch some fishes in the river.
6. Star gazing
We managed to gaze at stars and planets once, when our boys were little. It was an eye-opening experience for them (literally!).
If you have a telescope at home, you can do this easily with your kids. If you do not have one, you can still bring them out to try spotting for stars. This can be challenging if you live in the city like us. The sky is almost never dark, with all the bright city lights around.
What we did was to download the Star Tracker app and point it at the sky to locate stars and planets above us. The cool thing about this app is, you can even locate the stars and planets during the day and the kids learnt that stars are up there even when we could not see them!
7. Clouds gazing
This is a simple activity and one which takes very little time. However, some kids, especially the older ones, might find this boring. To spice it up for them, give them some art materials to draw the clouds they see in the sky, get them to use their imagination and create pictures with the clouds.
This leads us to the last point…
8. Create art outdoors
Now, I have not done this with my kids yet. But this is definitely something on my list. Bring the kids outdoor, grab a mat, some art materials and food and have an art picnic!
Get your kids to observe the nature around them and draw what they have observed. If there are trees in the area, you can get your kids to do bark tracing. Simply give them a piece of paper and a pencil. Get them to place the paper on the bark of a tree and shade the paper. The texture of the bark will be shown in the paper. Now do that with different coloured pencils. Cut out the shadings to create beautiful pieces of art.
Most children enjoy exploring nature. So, even if you are a busy parent, try to make some time over the weekends or during the school holidays, to bring your kids outdoor for some nature exploration and fun.
Enjoy exploring nature with your little ones!