What better time to explore nature together as a family than the summer months? Parents can introduce their children to the wonders of nature while making memories that will contribute to a child’s feeling of belonging within the family. Nature offers vast opportunities for summertime family connections whether you take your children to the great outdoors or bring a bit of nature inside. Research shows that there are numerous physical and mental health benefits for children to spend time in nature.
Here are 9 ways to have summertime family connections with nature:
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt. This free printable offers images of items from nature your family can hunt for while visiting a nearby park.
- Splish-splash with water play. If you have a swimming pool, lake or ocean near your home you undoubtedly know the fun to be had swimming and splashing together. But you can also have fun with water with a plastic tub, scoops, funnels and items from nature like leaves, sticks, rocks and pinecones. Which ones float? Which ones sink?
- Create a wildflower bouquet. As long as the flowers you pick are not in a protected nature area, you can find colorful floral items just about at any park, field or wooded area. You and your child can collect flowers and return home to make a beautiful floral arrangement to bring a bit of nature’s joy into your home.
- Grow a garden. It doesn’t have to be large at all to have summer time family connections through tending to living plants together. Start off with some seeds and let your child see them grown into sprouts and then into full plants right there in your back yard or even on a balcony or porch.
- Teach your child about animal tracks. You can start with a book like Big Tracks Little Tracks and explore hiking trails looking for different animal tracks. Here are some free printable images of animal tracks for animals in North America.
- Make natural bird feeders. Glue a bit of string to the top of a pine cone, paint it with peanut butter and dip it in bird seed. Hang it on a tree branch outside a window where your child can watch the birds (or squirrels!) come and snack.
- Create a nature collage. You and your child can gather nature items on a walk through a park or along a trail and once you get back home you can affix the items using glue to a large poster board creating a collage to have a home reminding you of your walk in nature together.
- Feed the ducks or the fish. If you can find a nearby pond you’ll likely find a family of ducks or some hungry fish who will welcome you to feed them some crackers or bread crumbs.
- Play in the rain. As long as there is no threat of lightning, getting wet on a rainy summer day, splashing in the puddles and feeling the rain drops falling on your face is a delightful way to connect with nature. You can find inexpensive rain boots for just this occasion and play together in the rain.
Set aside an hour each day to spend time in nature with your child. Engage with one another in shared wonder and delight in all the elements nature has to show us on display during the summertime months. These activities can help you and your child have enhanced connections while making wonderful memories to cherish for years to come.