How do you tackle hiking with toddlers? It's a conundrum many parents face. You set out on a trail, and in a flash, they're off like wild stallions, running with untamed energy for the first five minutes. After that, they insist on being carried, their little legs seemingly worn out. It can be a challenge to keep the group together. Singing songs can be a great way to maintain cohesion, but if you truly want to engage their young minds with the wonders of nature, let me share some conversation starters and on-the-go activities that will keep them involved, right in the heart of the wilderness.
Engage the Five Senses:
I kick off our adventure by imparting a vital lesson to my little ones, the knowledge that we are fortunate to be more than mere ethereal concepts drifting through the cosmos. We are embodied spirits, blessed with physical forms and the incredible gift of five senses, enabling us to revel in the marvels of the world around us. These senses, dear children, are further enlivened through movement and the exploration of the natural realm that envelops us.
Let us acquaint ourselves with these magnificent sensory companions: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. And fear not, for I shall now unveil a treasury of captivating ways to ignite your tiny explorers' engagement with each one during our hike
Here’s a nifty trick to make our nature exploration even more amazing! It's like adding extra flavor to your eyesight in the great outdoors.
First, we'll stand still together and take a moment to look far into the distance. See if you can spot something really far away, like a big cloud, a tall mountain, or a towering tree. Let's keep our eyes fixed on that far-off object for a little while.
Now, let's shift our focus to something in the middle. Look for trees that are not too close but not too far away, about ten big steps from us. Or how about the center of a calm, beautiful body of water? Take your time to really look at that middle-distance thing.
Next, get ready for some serious detective work! Let's crouch down low and examine the ground right in front of us. Look closely at the tiny details of nature up close.
Now, stand up tall again and take another look at everything around us. Notice how the colors and details seem even more vibrant and vivid now! It's like we've unlocked a whole new level of seeing by exploring different distances.
Now, my curious listener, let's dive into the world of sounds and unlock our super hearing powers!
First, I want you to pause and listen carefully. Can you hear any sounds in the distance? Try to find the furthest sound you can hear. What do you think that sound might be? Is it a bird singing, a car passing by, or maybe even the wind whispering through the trees? Let your imagination run wild!
Now, let's shift our focus to something closer. What is the closest sound you hear right now? Is it the sound of your own breathing, footsteps, or maybe even the rustling of leaves nearby? Pay attention to the tiniest sounds around us.
By exploring the range of sounds, from the farthest to the closest, we can experience a whole symphony of the world around us. It's like we're uncovering hidden melodies and secret rhythms everywhere we go.
Now, let's take it a step further and explore the hidden vibrations of plants. Have your child rub their palms together for 5-10 seconds, creating warmth and energy. Then, with eyes closed, guide them to hold their palms close to different plants. Feel the subtle vibrations, a secret language shared by plants and trees, as we cultivate a deeper connection with nature.
After an adventurous hike, food tastes even more delicious. Plan a picnic or snack break amidst nature, allowing your toddler to savor the flavors of a well-deserved meal. This simple act can create a positive association with hiking and nature, making it even more enjoyable for them.
Invite your toddler to gently hold their nose for 5 seconds and then release. What wonderful scents do they notice around them?
By engaging the five senses you’re teaching your child to notice the subtle differences in the world around them. They will begin to notice for example how everything around them is constantly moving. They will notice how the sun shimmers on leaves and the changing temperature as they move from sunshine to shaded areas.
Stewardship means taking care of something important, like the Earth, by being responsible and making good choices to keep it safe and healthy.
Hiking is a great time to explain stewardship to your toddler. Here are some ways they can protect the environment.
- Reduce food waste.
- Consume fewer animal products..
- Recycle paper, plastic, and cans.
- Plant trees and flowers.
- Pick up litter and keep the environment clean.
What other opportunities for stewardship can you come up with together?
Hiking and exploring nature with toddlers is an incredible opportunity to nurture their senses, develop a deep connection with the environment, and foster a sense of stewardship. Engaging their five senses during hikes, combined with teaching conservation practices, can lay the foundation for a lifelong appreciation and commitment to protecting our planet. Let us embrace these experiences, knowing that we are not just taking care of nature, but also instilling valuable life lessons in our little ones for a sustainable future.