A spring camping trips is the perfect way to start teaching your children about nature. There are lots of ways to learn in a classroom, or with a text book. Still, nothing beats being out there and experiencing it first hand. There are lots of different ways to do this from the tent and surrounding campsite. Take the time to try different options that suit your child’s learning style and personality. Make the experience as rich and rewarding as possible.
Head on a nature walk
This is the obvious first step when learning about nature while camping. A nature walk especially in the drier weather, is a great experience. You can head out and take note of everything that you see. This is a great chance to see well-known animals and birds first hand. For some small children, this might be their first wild encounter with certain animals, birds or plants. This means it is important to pause at anything that they find interesting. Take the time to identify and study things, even if it seems ordinary to you, and enjoy each encounter.
Enjoy a greater sensory experience over the camping trip
Kids learn in different ways and like to get beyond their dry textbooks into an adventure. This means engaging all the senses while camping. Work with their sense of taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing as much as possible What can they spy in the woods with their binoculars? What does it sound like to snap the twigs, skim stones on ponds and hear pairs of birds calling to each other. What does it feel like to touch the mud, the cool river water or the bark of the trees. What do the flowers and plants smell like?
Identifying the sounds of the forest
This is where that sense of hearing really comes into play. This is great fun for kids as they snuggle up in their sleeping bags and enjoy the changing landscape of the campsite. They can wake up to a dawn chorus and the sounds of animals scuffling around outside. Where possible, try and identify the calls with guides and apps. Then there are the calls of nocturnal animals and owls at night. It offers a new dimension to being out in the wild.
Try some responsible foraging for food
This is ideal for dealing with the taste sense. Campsite food can be pretty ordinary and uninspiring. But, it is possible to mix things up with responsible foraging. This isn’t for the amateur camper or those that aren’t prepared. It is important to read up on safe and poisonous plants, herbs and mushroom before you go. Experienced campers and foragers can help their kids explore through taste. If in doubt don’t pick it. This is also a great way to teach kids about safety in the forest and respect for nature.
Let them express themselves with a keepsake to treasure and review.The final idea here is to encourage them to create a camping scrapbook, journal or other artistic expression of their adventure. Kids that are creative can let their imaginations run wild here. They can take photographs of their surroundings, collect leaves and make rubbings of the bark. Their nightly camping journal entries can spark stories and other creative outputs. This in turn leads to long term projects and creations that will offer great memories and lessons for a long time to come.