Nature Walks are a beautiful opportunity to teach children how to experience and appreciate God’s Creation. With only a little bit of planning you can pull off a day outdoors that is not just an educational help to teaching Creation Science but is also an enjoyable way to enjoy God’s creation. Incorporate these 5 tips to make the most of nature walks.
I’m convinced that my children had a confident and lasting understanding of high school science with a strong handle on creation apologetics because of their vast experiences with nature study.~ Cindy West, Our Journey Westward
5 Tips to Make the Most of Nature Walks
Pack Field Guides. Depending on the subject you are currently studying or on your children’s latest interest, you can find the perfect field guide. Birds, flowers, insects, mammals, or trees – there are numerous field guides small enough to throw into a backpack and easy to bring out for identification. Having a field guide handy makes bird watching far more accessible, allowing you to identify that woodpecker right now, rather than needing to wait until you can find internet service or get back home-and possibly forgetting about it when you do make it home. Field guides are inexpensive, geographically themed, and the perfect resource to make the most of a journey into the wild.
Invest in Hand-held Help. Planning on walking around enjoying spectacular views? Packing binoculars is a must! Or if you’re planning on looking at something small, like snails or flowers, bring along a hand-held magnifying glass. These little extra helps go a long way in getting to see the bigger (or smaller ) picture. Best of all, children absolutely love using them. Grow confidence and practice gentleness by handling these objects with care. Many binocular cases offer a comfortable strap easy for children to carry. Binoculars make a great gift for nature loving students.
Bring Sketch Pads. Stopping for breaks is mandatory during a hike, so use the time wisely with journaling opportunities. If you have a creative student they will love to stop and sketch something extraordinary seen along the way. Set a time limit if you don’t want your entire walk to be spent making a bark rubbing of the oldest tree you’ve ever seen. However, that delight in noticing the details is much better than walking by and missing God’s beauty on display. When you supply sketch pads, poets have the opportunity to jot down a nature sonnet and artists can capture their favorite sites to later display at home. For some homeschool moms having something to 3-hole punch after a nature walk helps them to feel like the day wasn’t “wasted”.
Pack Ziploc Bags. Fall is a wonderful time to collect leaves. But rather than walking around with handfuls of treasures, place leaves, pinecones, rocks, etc. in Ziploc Bags for an easy carry home. Be sure to notice any park or path signage discouraging this practice as there are some places that do not permit removing foliage. Remind your children they should never pick anything! Only pick up what has already dropped. Never pick, pluck, rip, or snip something that is perfectly happy where it is on display for others. Ziploc bags are also great for collecting trash and leaving your favorite nature walk better than when you found it.
Take Your Time. Although this tip may sound simple, we often rush these moments in effort to check them off a list. But rather than hurry through a nature walk take some time to ask children questions. What do you hear? Do you see any patterns? What do you smell? How do you feel? What colors do you see the most? Pack a lunch, take breaks, stop and smell the flowers. Literally. Be sure to take as many moments as you can to appreciate the creation, but glorify the Creator!