It is easy to feel cooped up right now. Luckily, shelter-in-place rules still allow for walking on trails. Nature walks are one of my favorite sanity savers since they provide the opportunity to stretch the legs, breathe fresh air, and come across unexpected adventures.
Last week, my kids and I found a baby turtle on a bike path. We named him Fred and looked up his species on my phone (red-eared slider, we think). Then we left him next to a stream and wished him good luck. We did NOT take him home as a pet, though there was some serious begging.
If you take your little one on a nature walk, here are some tips to develop STEM and pre-reading skills as you wander.
Over, Under, and Around
Help your child describe how they are moving. “We are going around the rock.” “Let’s step slowly over the log.” “Can you walk quickly under the tree?”
Bonus energy burn if you turn it into a short obstacle course! This develops gross motor skills and vocabulary.
Exploring with the Senses
Ask, “What does the tree bark feel like?” “How many bird songs can you hear?” “Can you repeat the song?” “What does the leaf smell like when it’s wet?” “What about when it’s dry?”
Bonus if you can use all the senses! This develops observational skills and vocabulary.
Counting and Grouping
Collect five rocks and put them in order of size. Say, “This rock is the biggest!” “This rock is smaller.” “This rock is medium.”
Or group leaves by color. “How many green leaves can you find?” “How many white petals can you find?” “Can you find five?” “Let’s count them together!”
This develops observational skills, organizational skills, and vocabulary.
You can find a list of Frisco Trails on the Frisco Parks and Recreation page here: https://www.friscotexas.gov/522/Parks-Trails. Frisco Commons Park is a staff favorite. Happy exploring! Say “Hi” to Fred.