Family “Noticing Nature” Walk for you!

Did you know that the First Lady has declared June “National Go Outside” month? In an effort for American families to get active, get outdoors, and get moving! June 9th is the official “GO” day! (Check  “National Get Outdoors day” website for activities.)

I’ve spent the morning by myself at the lovely Arboretum, and I’m inspired…I have created a Nature “Noticing” Walk or “Treasure Hunt” for my family to enjoy together later today at The Lakes with some friends. The weather is gorgeous here in Dallas this weekend – if it is where you are, make some time to BE OUTSIDE as a family, and enjoy!

This list is designed for a family to enjoy together or with friends on a beautiful day at a park or nearby outdoor hang-out. (Arboretum? White Rock Lake? Central Park?)  We plan to do it at “The Lakes”, our old apartments in Dallas where there are trails and LOTS to “notice” on a pretty day. The “treasure” could be a cooler of popsicles hidden behind a bush or a picnic basket under a tree – as a fun prize if they find 9 out of 10 or 15 out of 20! Maybe an extra sticker or hug for the “team” (Mommy and son, Daddy and daughter)who finishes first. I’ve added some “Talking points” to spark some fun conversation and connection. AS you go about your walk, practice the following cues/ pattern with your children: “STOP, look, and listen!” Then ask questions: What do you see? What do you hear? (Do this with babies, too!) Allow silence for an audible or mental response.) Not only does it encourage kids to BE outside, but to move and notice, to listen and look, to use all 5 senses – all key for healthy child development. But the best part is, it helps provide a fun experience for connecting together!

Like all my ideas, it’s meant to inspire your own ideas: Alter this to fit your family’s context. Cut out pictures from a magazine and glue onto little cards as a cue for non-readers (but label with words), let the kids check off the written list (getting the idea of “environmental print”, that words have meaning and purpose, a key pre-reading concept.) Enjoy for years to come! Let it grow with them…

Can you see…Can you hear….???

  1. People holding hands. (When you find it, say “I love to hold your left/ right hand!”, and DO IT!)
  2. A Baby in a stroller (When you find the baby, stop and say “hello”. Recall when your child was a baby in a stroller – where did they like to ride?)
  3. A Squirrel eating nuts or scampering (When you find him, say “hello”, and try some scurrying, scampering, or chattering together – great “rare” words, right? I get so excited about this stuff!)
  4. Duck or bird poop (Everybody poops! What kid would’t love to find this? Have you ever been hit by it?)
  5. Sidewalk Chalk on the sidewalk? (If you could right a message or draw a picture in that same spot, what would it be…”write” it with your finger on the ground, maybe “I (heart) You!”)
  6. Flowers – don’t pick! (Teach the phrase, “Stop and Smell the roses”, and take time to smell. What is your favorite color? Flower?)
  7. Turtle? (Can you crawl slowly like a turtle? Does it make any sounds? The “sign” for turtle is to tuck your thumb in and out of your closed fist.)
  8. People playing with a ball? (What are they playing? What sounds are they making? Can you pretend to play this game with an “invisible” ball like theirs? What is your favorite thing to do with a ball?) 
  9. Waterfall? (What sound is it making? Are there any creatures near it?)
  10. People laughing? (Can you guess what they are laughing about? What does it sound like when you laugh? What makes you laugh?)
  11. People speaking another language? (Can you guess what language they are speaking If you don’t know, ask. Ask them to teach you “hello” and “thank you”.)
  12. An egret or heron (Are they moving or still like a statue? Can you move or “freeze” like them?)
  13. A Fountain (Sing “Deep and Wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide…” Jump s high as the water!) 
  14. Weeping willow (Why do you think this tree has this name? What does it feel like?)
  15. Someone exercising (How can you tell they are exercising? Why do you think they are exercising? What do you like to do for exercising? Tell the, “Good job exercising!” to encourage them.)
  16. A bridge (How many small steps does it take you to get across the bridge? How many giant steps? How many skips or hops?)
  17. A bird singing (What does his song/ call sound like? What do you think he’s trying to communicate? The “sign” for bird is to tap your pointer finger and thumb together like a beak.)
  18. Music playing (Can you hear anyone listening to music with earplugs? It’s too loud! What “”earth music” are they missing out on?) 
  19. Someone taking a picture. (Can you pose for a “picture” or ask someone on your team to. Take it with your “invisible” camera, and record the image in your mind!) 
  20. Someone reading outside? (Where is your favorite spot for reading? Do you see anything that reminds you of a favorite poem or book – a tree? an animal? the sun?) 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. […] (pools!) You’ve got to take your kids to explore this hidden gem, find everything on my “noticing” nature walk list (made especially for our family time at “The Lakes”), pick up a picnic from […]