The Beginner’s Nature Walk Guide
What are nature walks?
Nature walks are fun and enjoyable family walks in natural surroundings, which can be done by anyone and anywhere – in the countryside, in your back garden or even in a city park. They are also a great way to connect with the natural world, and are important for your family’s physical, mental well-being.
Spending time in nature has a calming effect on the mind and body. In fact, spending just 20 minutes in nature has been shown to reduce stress, improve your mood, reduce feelings of anxiety and ease feelings of depression.
It provides an opportunity for your family to connect with the natural world, enjoy its beauty and cultivate curiosity, appreciation and wonder and to learn more about and get to know the plants, animals and landscapes around you.
Finally, nature walks are a way to bond as a family by spending quality time together, walking, talking, having fun and creating beautiful memories.
Tips for a successful nature walk
It is important to remember that nature walks can be done anywhere, from remote wilderness treks, to rambles through your local park. So, the amount of preparation needed can vary by distance, season and location.
However, here are a few tips to help you enjoy a successful nature walk:
- Plan ahead – Choose a location that is safe and suitable for your child’s age and abilities. Check the weather forecast and pack appropriate clothing and gear.
- Engage your child’s senses – Encourage your child to use all of their senses to observe their surroundings. Ask them questions about what they see, hear, feel and smell.
- Bring a nature journal – Provide your child with a nature journal and encourage them to record their thoughts, questions and observations. This helps them develop their observation skills and provides a fun record of their experiences.
- Incorporate games and activities – Make the nature walk fun and engaging by incorporating games such as ‘I-spy’ or creating a nature walk scavenger hunt.
- Respect nature – Teach your child to respect nature by following ‘leave no trace’ principles, staying on designated trails and not disturbing plants or animals.
Planning your nature walk
First, think about what type of nature walk experience you would like for your family, their skills and experince. Then look for a suitable nature walk in an easily accessible location.
Think about where you are going, what the weather may be like, how the terrain might be, what risks or hazards you might encounter and what you might need to be prepared.
Next, provide a way to engage your child in the nature walk and help them use their senses through special tasks, games or activities. For example, nature journaling, a sit-spot challenge, an I-spy game or a nature scavenger hunt and encourage them to find as many things as possible.
Finally, enjoy the walk and when you have finished reflect on the experience in your journal or notebook. Think about what you enjoyed, what you learned and what you would do differently next time.
Wrap up this experience
To complete your nature walk experience, invite your child to share their notebook or journal entries and discuss what they have learned or observed.
Then, ask them to write a short reflection about what they have learned about nature walks, what they learned, what they enjoyed and why they think it is important.
Remember – Nature walks are a tool to enjoy learning more about the natural world, while encouraging your child to observe and appreciate nature and develop a deeper connection to their world.
Enrich your nature walk experience
To enrich and supplement your child’s nature walk experience, consider:
- Using a field guides or app to help you identify plants, animals and other natural features
- Starting a nature journal to record your reflections and observations
- Choosing some fun nature scavenger hunts
- Practicing your nature awareness