Let’s Go Chipper into the Great Outdoors: 4 Fun Activities to Explore Nature with Kids

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”   -Unknown

Unfortunately, many schools do not encourage and facilitate connections with the great outdoors. More and more, it is up to parents to teach their little ones about all the mysteries of nature and to get them outside to discover our natural environment for themselves. That’s why Chipper wants to help–parents, teachers, communities. We need to get our future generations inspired by the wonders of our planet so they can continue to appreciate and protect our beautiful home.

Some schools have realized what should be common sense by now: Nature has a HUGE positive effect on kids (and people of all ages). East Bay Regional Parks District, in Oakland, Calif., is applying for a $2.6 million Federal Grant to develop innovative curriculum blending academic lessons with time spent in the outdoors. Not every parent or teacher instinctively brings nature into the house or classroom though, and that’s where Chipper comes in! Here are a few simple ideas to get you and your kids outside and excited by nature:

Take a Nature Hike! After dinner, on the weekend, or anytime you can take a short walk–Get out there! In your backyard, the local park, or your nearest forest, just being under an open sky amongst the flora and fauna will inspire you and your little ones. On your hike, especially this fall, discover leaves and their many colors, shapes and sizes (maybe even jump in some and collect a few), roll over logs in search of creepy crawlies and discover places to hide just like the animals do. After the hike, head inside to make fall leaf art and check out fun books for fall, such as Chipper’s Helping Hands Activity Kit! As children work with natural materials such as pine cones or seed pods and arrange them into patterns or mosaic-like pictures, they develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the natural world, while strengthening skills in classification and close observation. Before your hike, make a Nature Journal where your kids can write about the saw on their hike and put all their nature treasures the found and collected along the way!

Let Your Child Lead! Playing with your kids outside will create priceless connections between you as well as between you both and nature! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play time is crucial to a child’s development and contributes to their cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being.[1] Just take them outside and let them lead you to an activity or discovery. Provide opportunities for spontaneous imaginative play, such as building a fort, running through sprinklers, building a snowman or just some old fashion building blocks or dress up!

“Play is the child’s work. The world is his laboratory, and he its scientist. Play is the research by which he explores himself and his relationship to the world.”  – M. Paul Friedberg

Chance to Dance! Play some of you and your kids favorite music in the backyard and start moving those feet! Music and movement experiences are vital to children’s healthy development. Well-equipped outdoor Music and Movement Areas provide an ideal place for children to learn about sound, pitch, rhythm and tonality on their own; manipulate a variety of nature-based musical instruments; and express musical concepts by moving their bodies to music.

Gardening Fun! Involving children in gardening at an early age gives them the opportunity to develop a sense of wonder about the world and be amazed every day with each new discovery. Plant a little section in your yard or at school (or even a small one inside the house with a few basic plants) that your child can plan, plant and upkeep! No matter their age, include them while gardening or watering plants. Click here for tips and ideas on gardening with kids!

Here’s one truly inspirational video from a young 13 year-old-girl that uses film to learn about and teach others about environmental issues: Nature Kids Clip: Miranda Andersen

Let’s Get Chipper for nature and get outdoors today! Please share your outdoor activities and discoveries with us!