Fun Ways to Enjoy Nature Study in the Spring and Summer
I have to admit that I’ve never been an “outdoorsy” person. Bugs, pollen, dirt- I’m not a big fan of these. But I have wanted to expose my kids to nature and guide them to learn about and appreciate the things that God has made. So I’ve always made a deliberate effort to get outdoors and enjoy even if it doesn’t come naturally to me.
When spring rolls around, and the weather gets nice, it’s a little easier for me to enjoy the outdoors. As spring moves into summer, and the pollen becomes less, I like it even more. Those are the perfect times for me to get the kids outside for some nature exploration.
Here are a few fun ways that we enjoy nice weather and get in some study of nature.
Take a trip to the park.
One of our go to places when the weather is getting nicer is one of several local parks. When my children were younger, we would hit the playground first and then take some time to explore surrounding trails. One of our local parks has a nice trail around a fountain, one a great wooded trail, another a variety of trails through garden areas and past a small pool and fountain, and another a mile and half walking trail that winds through woods and open areas.
Now that my kids are older, park visits usually consist just of walking the trails. There are often interesting things that can be found if we keep a lookout while we are walking- blooming flowers, unique trees, insect habitats, and birds are commonly seen on some of these walking trails.
Walk around the neighborhood.
If we don’t want to go as far afield as the park, we can have a little nature exploration in our own neighborhood. We don’t live in a big neighborhood with small plots of land. Our neighborhood has smaller houses that all have decent sized yards, There are plenty of grassy and woodsy spaces in between.
Walking the neighborhood can allow us to see new gardens growing, flowers blooming, and insects and small animals like birds and squirrels. When the children were little, I would have them collect things on our “nature walks” around the neighborhood. Then when we returned home, we would often make collages by gluing our findings on construction paper.
Find a hiking trail.
Most state and national parks as well as some local parks have some great hiking trails. We are blessed to live close to quite a few of these. Although I don’t enjoy all day hiking trips or hiking on rough terrain, many of the trails are easier, meant for families to be able to walk together.
Hiking trails are nice places for some nature study because they usually pass through wooded areas where a variety of plants and animals can be found. Sometimes specific trees or plants will be labeled. One way to add nature study into your hike is to have kids sketch something interesting that they see along the way and then look up that plant, animal, or insect when you get back home to learn more.
Try your hand at geocaching.
If you’ve never had an opportunity to try geocaching, it’s a very fun family activity. As my kids have gotten older, we’ve had lots of fun searching out and finding caches. The basic idea behind geocaching is that you use geographical coordinates to find caches that have been hidden. The cache might be large- like a box- or as tiny as a watch battery. Various caches have varying degrees of difficulty.
If you want to try finding a cache, you can visit a site like Geocaching.com to search for caches hidden all over the world. You can chose a cache near you to hunt for. The site will indicate how difficult the cache will be to find. Using a handheld GPS (or your mobile phone), you can set out to find the cache.
Geocaching can encourage nature study because you’ll find yourself in a variety of interesting places. Although I’ve lived in the city we currently live in for my entire life, I’ve come upon all kinds of interesting outdoor spots through geocaching.
Even if you aren’t an outdoor person, beautiful spring and summer weather can encourage you and your family to get outside and learn about nature.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.
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