Shepherding children on any trip can be a bit like herding cats. I’m sure that would put many teachers, parents and carers off taking children on a hike – young minds often need more stimulation than we do moving through nature.
But we’re here to help! You don’t have to be super crafty or ultra adventurous to engage children in the great outdoors. We have some easy activities in our back pockets which we can pull out on a nature hike for younger kids.
Story stick scavenger hunt
Children build their own story stick featuring items collected while on the trail like leaves, twigs, flowers, feathers, or anything else natural that you find along the way (off the ground of course). You can talk about what these items are, where they came from and why they are important. Then they also have a memento of their nature hike to remember their experience.
Eye spy with all my senses
Nature is the perfect place to learn mindfulness techniques even for young minds; there’s so much to take in and to observe. Try a short anchoring practice. Stop, breathe and be calm, then list 5 things they can see, 4 things they can feel, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell and one thing they can taste.
What’s going on with the weather?
Tickle them curious about what’s happening above their feet by engaging with the weather. Measure how much rain has fallen while you hike by carrying in a keep cup or test what way the wind is blowing using a fallen leaf. See how much warmer the ground is in the shade to feel the strength of the sun, and what time of day it is by how big the shadows are.
While on your hike, get inspired by nature and get children to come up with their own yoga poses. They can pick something around them then put their body in a position that looks like it. Some quick examples: You can pretend to be a seed (and curl up ala Child’s Pose) or a frog (trying out a yogic squat) or balance on one leg to test out your best tree pose.
Be a botanist
Especially with the wildflower season fast approaching, get your little ones to spot the different flowers on the trail. Can they find different colours? Different shapes? Short plants and tall plants and plants that spread? The varieties are endless, and they can be the first to discover a new flower you haven’t spotted yet.