Nature Walk

A nature walk is one of the best ways to study nature.

Turtle in the Shell
What will you find on your nature walk?

Why Study Nature?

What is the educational value of a nature walk?

Did you ever notice in literature that the naturalists are often the wise, calm, observant type?

Studying nature sharpens a child's observational skills.

It also creates a respect for nature and other living things.

You have probably heard the expression "Stop and smell the roses." Seeing and experiencing the natural world around us actually helps us get our own lives and perspectives straight.

Planning Your Walk

Kids On a Grassy Hill
Some families plan their nature walk with kids weeks in advance, and some choose to do it spontaneously when beautiful weather creates an irresistable invitation. Even if you are the more spontaneous type, you can be prepared with the following ideas:

Record Keeping?

Here are some of our favorite ways of recording our nature walks. We would love to have you share some of yours as well (see below). Your Nature Notebook
However you decide to record your nature walk, do consider keeping a small nature notebook. Don't expect to fill a 70 page spiral notebook, unless you do lots of walks. However, five pages to slip into your binder for the year would be enough to document their progress in understanding nature.

Here's A Thought:
Would you rather explore the same location over the course of a year using different media (for instance - photography.) Or, would you prefer to use the same media for a year, and go to different locations?

The Focus of Your Nature Walk

You cannot study everything in one trip. Here are different aspects of nature you may wish to focus on. You might focus on one or two (three at the most) in a single outing.

Wild Flowers

Compare size, shape, color. Do they recognize any?

Notice the petals and the sepals and the leaves.

Notice the pollen. Would they be pollinated by insects or the wind?

Trees

Notice these aspects of trees: Classify trees of the same type. Can you find their name in a field book if you have one?

Which type of tree is most prevalent in this park or area?

Leaves

Another leaf study would include leaves of bushes and vines.

Don't forget the rule: "Leaves of three - let them be." Alert your kids to poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak.

Insects

Well, of course, we all know ants, bees, and butterflies. Here are some other ways to focus on insects during your nature walk.

Birds

Before looking, stop and listen.

Better yet, sit down, close your eyes and really listen.

How many different types of bird song do you hear?

How many different individual birds of the same type do you hear.

Imagine you are sitting in the middle of a clock, facing 12:00. Point to which direction (time on the clock) you are hearing birds sing. Don't actually talk. Just point with your finger. Or, if you have a piece of paper, mark it down.

Tap your fore finger and thumb together in time with the birds' singing to identify the number of "syllables".

Can you see any of your birds? Can you identify them with a field guide?

Other Nature Sounds

While listening to birds, become aware of other nature sounds.

Moss, vines, grass, shrubs

These provide a more advanced study than trees and flowers. However, a naturalist is very aware of them.

Water

It won't be too long before you encounter water. Is it a puddle, creek, stream, river, lake or pond?

Soil


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