Spring is here, and spring break is just around the corner or already underway. For parents everywhere trying to figure out how to keep their children amused, the answer can be simple: Get them outside!
Spring is a great time to watch birds collect materials to build nests or to check out the buds as trees and shrubs begin to bloom and leaf out. It’s also a time to see those early blooms that often lay soft carpets of color across the landscape.
Observation skills are important for school and life, so devise an outdoor scavenger hunt. Make a list of things they might find at a park or in a forest near you. Be specific about the type of tree or the shape of leaf they should find. Or be more general and encourage them to find coniferous trees (those with cones) or deciduous trees (those with flat leaves). With potential wildlife sightings, the hunt could include squirrels, birds, deer, ants or moths. Or have them get up close and personal with a bug.
Use this time with a younger child to explore shapes and colors in nature.
And help children learn to respect the outdoors by “collecting” their finds on a digital camera or drawing them in a journal. Let the found items stay outdoors for others to enjoy.
Nature is a great place to use all your senses. Show children how they can feel the wind on their skin; see the wind move the leaves or branches of a tree; hear the wind through the trees; smell the flowers because the wind is bringing the scent to them. Since wind really doesn’t have a certain taste; ask your kids to use their imaginations and tell you what they believe the wind tastes like.
And an added bonus: while they are enjoying the outdoors, so can you.