This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Radio Flyer. The opinions and text are all mine.
As a child, I remember roaming around my parents’ wooded backyard, enjoying nature and exploring what it had to offer. And then one day as I was digging in the dirt, I found an arrowhead. A real one. One that had been left there by someone in the past belonging to some tribe that I didn’t know.
What that arrowhead did was not give me another treasure to keep and admire, but it sparked my enthusiasm and curiosity for nature even more and it fueled me to want to be outside exploring, excavating, watching, and enjoying nature and the things I could discover and observe!
As parents, we can help our children be inspired by nature by gently guiding them to see the awe and wonder that we do, but through their own eyes. And one of the easiest ways is by putting together an outdoor play discovery kit for your kids.
Why outdoor play is important
If you were to scroll through research online, you would find scientists and researchers are finding a connection between time spent outside and things like improved mental health, vision, and an appreciation for nature and its preservation. You could literally spend hours just discovering all of the positive things spending time outside does for developing minds.
No matter what matters to you about your kids spending more time outside, one thing is for certain, there are very few drawbacks to children exploring nature because there is so much to learn and discover.
As the weather continues to get warmer, it’s important to encourage kids to get active outside and let their imaginations run wild with their feet.
What to include in a child’s nature kit
What you include in a nature kit could mean the difference between a short walk and a whole day or learning and exploring. It’s the secret weapon to make sure our kids are spending more time outside and making the most of it.
Pack a durable, all-terrain wagon.
A wagon is essential for every kid. It’s a timeless addition for hauling items, but even to spend time together with adults because of being able to ride in when really little.
We have a a beautiful wooden all terrain wagon and even added some padded seats and all-terrain wheel for when we’re out traipsing about on trails, everyone is comfortable either pulling or riding.
The good news is that in honor of the 4th National Little Red Wagon Day on March 27, you can get up to 50% off an awesome Radio Flyer wagon of your choosing!
Buy a durable journal and pencils.
Writing observations is important, but surviving the trip also is. We have found that making sure you choose one that’s the right size for your child and that can take a beating is important.
Find at least a few colors of crayons and colored pencils.
This is for leaf rubbings, sketching, and more. It’s important though to make sure to bring a few without the wrapper like the old broken crayons no one likes to use anymore because they’re perfect to make imprints and rubbings with!
Bring an inexpensive stethoscope and magnifying glass.
Have you ever listened to a tree?
Or heard another plant pump water through its stem?
Have you ever looked closely onto the head of an unknown insect?
Or seen just how many eyes a spider has?
These are things kids find fascinating and giving them the tools means they’re discovering it themselves as they go on unforgettable hands-on adventures!
Use Books, Flashcards, and Reference materials.
We like to take along a few key resources to help identify what’s around them. Whether it is a deck of animal print cards or a plant encyclopedia, there are so many great resources to help kids make connections and learn as they explore.
While I don’t usually like flashcards, this is an instance where I would recommend them. In fact, I had a flashcard deck of bugs and insects that we laminated and bound together to take as a reference guide!
Take some envelopes and small jars.
If you’re in a location that allows foraging or on your own property of course, you can use these to collect and label seeds, artifacts, and more.
Grab a tape measure, scissors, and a few other supplies.
Even the things our kids have seen before sometimes have awe-inspiring features. Like a mammoth sunflower that just has to be measured. So don’t forget to pack supplies like a camera if nothing else to even document what’s out of the ordinary on a normal nature walk.
How to get started exploring nature as a family
Just like Radio Flyer has been around for more than one hundred years, getting outside on a nature walk or hike is a timeless tradition of joy and lasting memories that your family can enjoy today or any day. So the best way to get started is to jump in, feet first.
Start small if needed or as the weather improves.
Our family got out this week and enjoyed warmer temperatures even just for twenty minutes pulling the wagon around, zooming down hills, and using a magnifying glass to inspect the signs of spring popping up around us. It wasn’t long, but it was something. And the kids greatly enjoyed it!
Remember what’s most important & allow for flexibility
For us, quality time is more important than quantity, especially with working parents in the household. So know what your values are and what’s most important and be sure to allow flexibility to dictate how to play. 5 minutes pretending your wagon is a rocket ship could be a memory that your kids remember the rest of their life
Mark it on your calendar
Make a regular go of it. Explore local parks and plan trips to surrounding places that your kids can see different wildlife or scenery. It could be what your family looks forward to the most in a month or week!
Don’t forget to snag the big sale to get a Radio Flyer wagon you love on 3/27!
Go a step further and take them camping & grab this Eco-Friendly packing list!
It’s completely free and is two full pages, with extra space to write to help you and your family fill up the car with everything you’ll need to have a safe, healthy, and fun time while enjoying the great outdoors. Simply click on the cropped image preview below and a pop-up will ask you where you want your PDF download sent as well as weekly news.
More Family Outdoor and Camping posts
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!