Sunny weather and school break is a recipe for kids to disconnect from technology and experience the wonder of the outdoors. Taking in all the sights and sounds of nature with a child can be a great way to teach them about mindfulness and the power of practicing gratitude. Plus, it’s good for adults too! Whether enjoying a short nature walk or a longer hike, the mental health benefits of reconnecting with the world around us hold true at any age.
To help you explore natural wonders with your little one this summer, we’ve come up with a handful of fun outdoor activities, inspired by our book Tiny, Perfect Things. We hope each activity idea offers heartwarming reminders that the small moments in life, while often overlooked, are also some of the things to be most grateful for.
1) Go On a Search for Tiny, Perfect Things
Before a walk to the park or a stroll around the neighborhood, print out a list of items to either collect or look for—a leaf, a rock, a stick, a bird, a feather, a river, or anything that might spark joy to find. Along the way, check off which ones you come across.
Keep count of how many of each treasure you find and invite kids to add their own ideas to your treasure hunt “wish list.” Maybe they want to find a rare stone or a four-leaf clover. Whatever their wish-list items are, each treasure gives your child something to look for every time they’re out in nature and can lead to a sense of accomplishment when they finally find it. This is also a great exercise for teaching kids about having gratitude for the simple things.
2) Set Up Your Own Scavenger Hunt
Get kids excited about nature with a fun scavenger hunt! For this activity, you’ll need to set up items before your walk for kids to discover. Hide objects in trees, under rocks, or on park benches, like an Easter egg hunt. You can then create a list of clues to help direct your child to where the objects are hidden. Kids will love putting on their detective hats and feeling a sense of accomplishment after finding each object. Since you’re the one writing the clues, you can make them as easy or as difficult as you want, depending on your child’s age.
3) Compare Nature in Different Environments
Are you going to a new neighborhood park? How about deep into the forest? A beach? A desert, perhaps? Make a list of wonders to search for in the different environments you’ll be in. This is an opportunity to teach kids about how climate and terrain affect the critters and plants that live in those environments. Going on a treasure hunt in a new area during your summer travels will help kids experience a different kind of nature than they’re used to at home.
4) Take Pictures and Make a Collage of All Your Nature Finds
Be reminded of the joy of your outdoor excursions long after they’re over by creating a collage. Take pictures of treasures you discover along your travels, or paste leaves, flowers, pine cones, etc., to a poster board. This gives your child a chance to proudly display all their finds and also capture and preserve these memories for years to come.
5) Draw Pictures of Your Natural Treasures
Let kids tap into their creative side by suggesting they draw or paint pictures of the outdoor items they’ve found. To make it even more enjoyable, ask them to draw their treasures on the sidewalk or driveway in chalk. This gives kids even more of a chance to soak up the sun while decorating the pavement with adorable drawings.
We hope this list gives you some ideas for going out into nature and appreciating all the tiny, perfect things near you. To read the book Tiny, Perfect Things for even more inspiration, you can find it here.