10 bush walking activities for children
Bush walking is a great way to get your nature fix and get some exercise at the same time. Bush walking can be a fantastic way to get the body moving, and to give your eyes a rest from all the screens we look at. I love the term 'Forest bathing', which is becoming well known as a way to increase overall wellness. Read more about Forest Bathing here.
Sometimes my kids love coming along when I suggest going for a bush walk, but sometimes I have trouble getting them interested. I've compiled this list of activities we use to get our kids engaged on bush walks. I hope you find it helpful.
- look up
Have a walk where you focus on looking up. Instead of noticing things at eye level, look up into the tree canopies and beyond, which can give a different perspective on an area. The canopy is full on unique leaves, silhouettes and animals which only exist up high.
- look down
Have a walk where you focus on looking down and noticing the world that goes on at feet level. The forest / bush is full of plants and animals that live on the ground that we barely notice usually.
- focus on one thing
how many butterflies can we find? How many birds can you see? Pick a theme for the walk you're about to go on, and make that the focus for the day. By focusing on one thing, children will notice more detail in that one thing, and have a focus for the walk.
- looking for tiny houses
looking for little nooks and crevices and imagining what could live there is a great way to get children noticing the environment around them, and it's a good exercise for the mind to think of stories about the creatures that live there. Take some photos so you can record the stories at home if you like, or better yet, get children to do their own drawings.
(Above: My middle son testing out the early version of the scavenger hunt I designed - and getting very dirty in the process!)
- design a scavenger hunt
a nature scavenger hunt is a fun way to get kids excited about getting outside and keep them interested while on the walk. They can search for things and cross them off the list, and will be keen to keep going to find more. You can download my free nature scavenger hunt printable here, or you can make one of your own, depending on the season, and the environment you live in.
- 5 senses
Take a list of the 5 senses with you, and see how many things you can notice using all 5 of them. My junior nature journal page has a pictorial senses list for younger kids to use, with space for drawings or writing, depending on what they're up to (I left off taste and feel, but have a spot for questions and thoughts! But depending on your area, you could choose to include what you like). You can get it here.
- making a rainbow
Have a rainbow colour chart and work your way through it, finding natural elements that match each colour. It's amazing how many colours are present in nature when you look beyond green and brown.
- magnifying glass
Looking up close at anything that interests them is a good way for children to be more aware of their surroundings, and notice the tiny details. Mine love walking with a magnifying glass, a novelty in itself, and looking through it at moss or tiny flowers can open up a whole world not usually seen or noticed.
- fungi search
fungi species are such a unique organism, and it can be fun to spot different kinds that you don't see everyday. Some can be bright colours and strange shapes, and my boys always find them fascinating. They are great material for story telling too.
- bark rubbings
while it's important not to take anything away from a national park, children can take something away in the form of a bark rubbing. Just take some paper and crayons, and any tree that has some texture can be recorded onto the paper. This can be used at home for craft activities, or simply pinned to the wall as is, or pasted into a nature journal, if you keep one.
I hope this list has given you a few ideas for making bush walks fun and engaging. Let me know if you use any, or if you have any more ideas to add to the list.