When was the last time you noticed the varieties of leaves, flowers, rocks, birds, and even bugs in your own neighborhood? Chances are it’s been a long time (if ever) since you took a closer look.

This week’s summer fun idea is to take a nature walk. Find a place outside your normal stomping grounds like maybe near a park, lake, canal, botanic garden, or mountain trail. You could just meander and enjoy the change of scenery, but to keep the kids focused, here are a few other ideas.

  • Make up a checklist of the things you anticipate being able to spot and leave a few blank lines for unexpected discoveries.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt for certain things to spot and collect in a bag. A feather. A red rock. A pine cone. A seed pod. First one to finish, gets a prize like picking where to go for ice cream on the way home.
  • Collect interesting rocks, leaves, or flowers and take them home for a craft project. For example, press leaves and flowers between sheets of wax paper with a warm iron to create unique bookmarks or a “stained glass” picture. Glue pretty rocks onto a piece of cardboard cut out as a frame.
  • If the kids have digital cameras, iPods, or phones, have them capture their findings electronically.Create a funny face like the picture at the beginning of this post and take a picture to share later.
  • Try to find something that is red, green, blue, yellow, black, white, etc.
  • Create a list of awards like the biggest, smallest, lightest, most colorful, funniest, grossest, etc. and be on the lookout for award nominees while on your walk. Document digitally or collect specimens. Over ice cream later, debate the merits of each nominee and award the honors.
  • Find five examples each in different categories like birds, trees, animals, bugs, animal homes, flowers, or camouflage techniques.
  • Get low and/or close. Lay down to get a bug’s eye view of the area. Take along a magnifying glass to study interesting patterns on leaves or bark.
  • Close your eyes and use a different sense for awhile. What do you hear? What can you smell? What textures do you feel?

We often ignore the beauty around us. Take time this summer to smell the roses.

(For more ideas to get the family together and create memories, stop by on Fridays for the rest of the summer!)

What about you? What area would you walk in? What colors would you spot?

Summer Fun – Nature Walk
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