Inside you will find: Some great tips for awesome nature hikes with kids
The greatest quality of little boys (and by extension some grown men) is a wondrous imagination.
If you ever want to have an especially engaging, and likely entertaining, conversation with a little boy, ask him to tell you his favorite story.
Watch his eyes light up, as he tells you all about the daring exploits of the brave hero, and witness his forehead crinkle and his lip curl as he describes the heinous villain.
Now, I am happy to tell you that God has blessed me with 3 boys whom I know have spectacular imaginations. (The littlest can’t talk yet, but I assume his brain is just bursting with fanciful musings)
It’s one thing to have a conversation with my boys, (head’s up, it WILL be about Star Wars), but if you really want to delve the wonders of their imaginations, you need to go with them on an adventure…
Our family has found that some of the best adventures are waiting to be discovered in nature.
Thank you to the Toybrary of Austin for generously giving my family a membership in exchange for showcasing some of their amazing gear!
Hiking with Kids
Most recently, we packed the boys into the minivan, gathered a few necessary (and a few unnecessary) items for the journey and we were off the the nearest National Wildlife Refuge.
Being that we were hiking with small children, we didn’t even make it a whole mile, but there was a lot of excitement along the way.
We visited a family of birds,
crossed a river on a path of wobbly stones,
scaled a mountain,
Braved the dark path through a winding forest of thorns,
and surveyed the inhabitants of a wide green valley.
The boy’s had a great time, and the only complaints we heard were about who’s turn it was to lead.
So, if you are wondering, “Okay, that sounds like fun, but how do I get my kids excited about a Nature Hike AND to agree on the same adventure?”
Well, smart parent that you are, you probably know there are no fool proof ways to get your kids to AGREE ON ANYTHING 100 percent of the time.
However, here are 3 tips on how to encourage your kids to make Nature Walks an adventure:
1. Suggest Roles
This could be a favorite character from a book or movie, or it could be as simple as giving them a job.
On our Kid’s Hike, my Husband suggested our oldest son be a Scout. He would excitedly run ahead a little way and then come running back to tell us what he saw. He felt special because he knew what was coming before we did.
The middle one got to be the Captain. After the older one would come back, we’d ask the Captain what he thought we should do and which way he thought we should go.
Everyone got to do something creative and special to them and they could “own” their part of the trip. It’s also a good idea to switch up the roles often so no one gets bored or jealous. (We didn’t forget about the little one. He wasn’t really looking for a role. He just wanted to ride with Dad.)
2. Bring Some Special Tools
These should be something that kids do not normally get to use. That way it can feel like a privilege and will hold a child’s attention better. These can also compliment the roles that the kids adopt.
We brought along binoculars for the kids to use.
Our middle son insisted on bringing along a trail map and checking it to see where we were ever 50 yards or so.
Compasses and cameras are also a fun idea when hiking with kids.
3. Give them something to find
Discovering what makes up your world is one of the best parts about being a kid, and watching your kids discoveries is one of the best parts about being a parent.
If you are going to explore nature, making discoveries is easy. Look for bugs, look for flowers, look for footprints.
You can turn the search for pretty much anything into a quest for your kids. As we went along, we looked for birds and were fortunate enough to find a nest with eggs!
We got a set of two binoculars from the Toybrary of Austin. The “Toybrary” is a library for TOYS! Since getting a membership, my boys have enjoyed nature even more because of all the gear they can explore with! Liza, the owner of the Toybrary is great at finding educational, playful toys that help kids be kids! If you’re in the Austin, TX area, her shop is a must stop spot!
The Toybrary is also hosting fun events for families. See the calendar for more upcoming events.
Adventures are great opportunities for your family to make memories and grow closer. Just remember too that you can be a facilitator for your child’s imagination. Make suggestions, ask questions, be surprised, and be sure to listen.
You don’t have to pilot the Millennium Falcon to get there, but you will want to pack your own imagination.
Also, tell me about your family’s nature adventure. I love hearing your stories and your ideas can be a wonderful blessing to other families who are out with their kiddos!