Mostly Cloudy   73.0F  |  Forecast »

Making Family Hiking More Fun and Educational

Explore these eight ideas for making the most of an outdoors trek with your kids, sure to capture (and hold) their attention

Nature teems with critters, noises and little things that capture kids' fancy. Parents can channel some of that curiosity – and give the trek some fun focus – by sleuthing for outdoor surprises. Here are eight ways to engage your children and make the most of a family hike.

1. Rocks and minerals.

The state's plentiful shorelines are a trove for stone searches. Before you go, learn which are abundant in the area, and have each family seek out a few. Bring a small plastic container with dividers, descriptive guide and a magnifying glass for viewing the colors and layers.

2. Sounds of nature.

Tune in to bird and animal sounds. Visit your library first for a DVD or CD of birds and wild animal calls. Carry a recorder on your hike and capture some of the sounds you hear. Listen at home and, with the help of the Internet and books, try to puzzle out "whodunit."

3. Photo fun.

Capture nature's splendor! Hiking trails provide plenty of photo ops, and kids love snapping the shots. Discuss in advance what each family member wants to catch, such as a huge oak tree, monarch butterfly, deer tracks or a nibbling squirrel. Later, put them into a nature scrapbook.

4. Tree tales.

These giants of nature have equally compelling stories. Browse the web or borrow some books to learn about trees' life cycles and histories. On the trail, use clues such as the shape of the tree's leaves, the texture of its bark and even its size to ID a tree.

5. Which way?

While roaming, teach kids how to read a map and use a compass or the sun as a directional gauge. Choose a trail system that provides maps – and take one that branches a bit, to build those skills. If possible, create a treasure hunt: Hide a small prize just off the trail under a bush or pile of leaves. Mark the spot on your map and let the journey begin.

6. Animals abound.

In wooded areas, eye the grassy clearings. Watch for snakes, turtles and geese, if there's a nearby lake or stream. Also, look for chipmunks and squirrels playing chase or gathering food, birds of prey circling overhead, or grazing rabbits and deer. Talk about what they eat, where they live, and what species they're related to. Spot animal tracks, too.

7. Creepy crawlies.

Scouting for insects is an all-time kid favorite. Carry an insect book, clear container, tweezers and a magnifying glass for a close peek. Track the types of insects you find in a journal. Read up on their defense methods, such as changing colors to hide themselves from predators.

8. Plant life.

See what varieties grow in certain types of soil, climates and seasons. Look for their seeds, and discover the variations. Talk about how seeds travel by blowing in the wind or catching on the fur of animals. Learn how certain plants have evolved natural defenses to ward off creatures that would otherwise eat them.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Beach Towel and Picnic Blanket Caddy Craft

Beach Towel and Picnic Blanket Caddy Craft

Looking for an easy, compact way to tote those summer necessities? You're in luck! This simple sewing project makes carting your fabric accessories a breeze.

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

After only one night in, Romanian socialite Monica Gabor took her adopted son back to the orphanage because the child was too distressed.

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Recent findings published in Pediatrics show that nearly 40 percent of parents make measuring errors for their kid's medicine. Why is this happening and what can you do to prevent it?

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Beat vacation boredom with these four cool ideas from blogs, including Popsicle holders, printable sewing cards, jellyfish handprint bookmarks and more.

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

From picking out ingredients to concocting their own culinary creations, here are a few ways to encourage your children to help out in the kitchen.

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Head to the park or on a hike and make the great outdoors your dinner spot. Here are six ideas to help you plan your meal – from drink to dessert.

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Want a few simple, fun sewing ideas for the kids, projects to brighten up their rooms or maybe just tips for DIY tinkering? These authors have you covered.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement