Spending time outside is healthy for people of all ages, but when it comes to maintaining active learning with your child, it can be tough to see the outdoors as a venue for that. Fortunately, there are a number of low-cost activities that can help you continue your child’s education right from your backyard or local park. Here are a few ideas to try next time you’re in need of an educational experience for your child.
Texture Scavenger Hunt
This is an excellent low-cost activity that can help your kids learn about the world around them. The best part? You can complete the entire activity within the boundaries of your backyard! To start, gather a few objects from your backyard that have varying textures. Consider options like pinecones, acorns, moss, pebbles, leaves, or tree bark. Once you have all of these items, place them into separate opaque bags. Brown paper lunch bags work well in a pinch! Now that you have all of your materials gathered, ask your children to reach into each of the bags and feel the texture of the items inside. After that, ask your kids to bring you something from your backyard that matches the texture of the item they felt. As they gather similar objects, you can teach them about texture words like bumpy, smooth, pointy, and rough. This is also a great exercise in fine motor skills for younger children.
Yoga Inspired By Nature
One of the best things you can do for your kids is teach them how great it is to get moving. Fortunately, practices like yoga — which almost 36 million Americans perform regularly — are already deeply connected to the natural world. There are countless poses that are easy to achieve and that are named after natural objects. Some good options to choose from for beginners include tree pose, fish pose, half moon pose, lotus pose, and garland pose. If you want to get a little bit more creative, you can ask your kids to come up with their own poses based on animals they like or natural elements they see in their own yard.
If you live in an area where there are lots of little trails, going on a nature hike can be a highly educational experience. And if you want to make the most of educating your kids while you’re on a nature hike, it only takes a little bit of prep work on your part beforehand. Do a little bit of research into the natural flora and fauna on the trail you’ve chosen to hike. Make a list of a few things that are relatively common and ask your kids to point them out or collect them while you’re on your hike. This can help promote observation skills, hand-eye coordination, and the use of all five senses. And if you want to take it a step further, do a bit of research into some fun hiking facts. Consider sharing facts about famous hiking trails like the Appalachian trail, which is almost 2,200 miles long.
Gardening projects open up so many educational doors for parents who want to keep their children engaged at home. If you already have a garden, this is a great opportunity to get your kids involved in something you love to do. And if you don’t have a garden, this is an excellent excuse to start one. Gardening is best for teaching scientific lessons. For example, watching a seed sprout and grow into a flower or even a vegetable can teach kids about growth and the plant life cycle. And if your kids are a little bit older, you can even use gardening as a basic chemistry lesson. For example, if you’re planting any kind of veggie in your garden, let your kids know that healthy soil contains approximately 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter. If they want their garden to grow, it’s important to look for things like nitrogen content when buying mulch or potting soil. And all of this learning comes at the cost of a few basic garden supplies that, if you garden regularly, you likely already have.
Getting outdoors is a healthy activity that can help keep children engaged with the natural world. But if you want to take that activity a step further, consider using one of these exercises to help you continue your child’s education at home.