Make nature part of family time!

Little Girl Drawing with Crayons

Getting Started:

* I Spy: Draw your children's attention to the natural world whenever you can, whether you're walking outside or looking out the window. Simple statements like, "Look at those baby flowers pushing out of the ground!" or "I see a bird making its nest" or "Do you want to chase after that butterfly?" will invite your young children to observe and engage in the natural world around them.

* Fresh Air Fun: No matter how old your children are, find ways to maximize their time outside. When weather permits, eat meals at an outdoor table or picnic on the grass. Let your infant play on a blanket or even take a nap in the shade of a tree. Make backyard and park play a regular part of each day's activities.

* Car-Free and Care-Free: Replace at least one car trip a week with a walk, a bike ride, or a walk combined with public transportation. Get your family in the habit of getting around the neighborhood without using the family car. It's healthy for people and the environment, and helps your family connect with the community, too.

* Time Out: Is your child busy with after-school activities every day? If so, consider canceling a class to free up one day a week for some unstructured fun outdoors. You might want to spend these afternoons in your own yard or immediate neighborhood. Or you may want to make special visits to natural areas in your town. Whatever you do, don't worry too much about what your child is learning. Focus instead on playing, relaxing, and celebrating the wonders great and small all around you.

* Story Time: Choose stories for your children that feature plants and animals, especially those that live in your region. These stories don't even have to be realistic. Many experts believe that an imaginative engagement with the living things around them helps children develop curiosity and respect for the natural world.

* Journal Joys: Make a nature journal with your kids and have them draw or write one observation of nature every day.

* Keep it Simple: Your children don't need a carload of tools and toys to entertain themselves outdoors. Small sticks can become boats that float down fast-running streams. Sail flower petals on a pond. Draw temporary pictures on rocks with stems dipped in water. Use big sticks to dig moats and patterns in the sand and mud. Skip stones. Build miniature forts with rocks, moss, and pine cones.

* Moon Walk: Go for a nighttime walk. Take a flashlight and explore one area not lit up by electric lights. What do you see? Hear? Smell?

* Home Tweet Home: Make a bird feeder and start feeding and watching birds out your window.

* Bug Watch: Head outdoors and have your kids find as many different kinds of insects as they can. Bring a magnifying glass for a close-up look!

* E-Tunes: Sing songs about the plants and animals around you when you're with your children. The more connections they form, the more likely it is they will form a positive relationship with the natural world.

* Puddle Stompers: The next time there's a major downpour, venture outside with your kids. Let them discover the joys of stomping in puddles and seeing what the wet world looks like.

* Harvest Time: As often as possible, take your children to orchards, wild berry patches, farms, and other places where they can pick fruits and vegetables. Grow some of your own food in a backyard or community vegetable garden.

* Stroll on the Wild Side: If you have an infant or toddler, consider organizing a neighborhood stroller group that meets for weekly nature walks.

* School-Wild Celebrations: Volunteer to help your children's teachers find ways to bring nature into the classroom, and to take the classroom out into nature.

Be sure to check out our Create and Play activities page for additional ideas!

Do you have your own ideas for how to share nature with children? Send them to and we'll post them here!