While wandering through nature, we all take in our surroundings using our senses. We smell flowers, touch tree bark, listen to bird calls, see details (like an ant trail on a tree), and even taste some of the natural objects we come across (think berries or edible flowers). And while investigating nature in this way comes naturally to most children, sometimes we parents forget to allow our children the time and space they need to do it. Never fear, Hike it Baby is here! This month, we are sharing five different ways to explore each of the five senses with your children! So get outside as a family, slow down, and explore nature with your senses together!
Exploring Nature through Hearing
Listening to nature can quite literally ease the stresses of daily life. Don’t believe us, check out this Psychology Today article. And there are so many sounds in nature, the chirping of birds, the rustling of wind on a blustery day, the scream of cicadas, the rushing of water, and so many more. Any walk outside (yes, even in the city if you stop to listen) will provide you with some distinct nature sounds. So take your children outside and explore nature through hearing together.
Photo Credit: Ashley Schneider
Here are five ways you can slow down and really experience sounds in nature together:
- Find five sounds. Find a comfy spot, or at least a spot free of sharp rocks and pokey plants, and lie down. Close your eyes and put a fist in the air. Now listen carefully to the nature around you and put a finger up each time you hear a new nature sound. Once all five figures are raised, sit up, wait for everyone else to finish, and then share what you heard.
- Listen to bird calls. As you sit for a picnic or hike a favorite trail, listen to the birds around you. If you want, spend time trying to match the bird calls to the bird, or try to count the number of different birds you hear. There is no wrong way to listen to the sounds of birds, even if it is just listening to them and nothing more.
- Hear your footsteps. As you walk through nature, listen to the sounds of your footsteps. Do you hear the crackle of dried fall leaves, the snapping of twigs, the splashing of water, or the crunch of snow? There is a different sound for every season, every ground cover, and the sounds even change depending on your footwear.
- Listen like an animal. Find a quiet place in nature, somewhere you won’t be disturbed. This activity is better for older children but could be fun for younger ones too. Basically, you listen to the sounds of nature but do so as if you were an animal. Pick an animal, either a predator animal (fox, wolf, bear, etc.) or a prey animal (rabbit, squirrel, deer, etc.), and listen to nature from their perspective. Do you hear humans talking, a squirrel chattering in a tree, a coyote howling, or a dog barking? What does that mean for your animal? Are you listening to keep safe or using your ears to help you hunt for your next meal?
- What’s that sound? For this activity gather some easily found nature items, like sticks, dried leaves, rocks, sand, water, acorns, pinecones, etc., and place them in a box or somewhere your children cannot see them. Have your children close their eyes (or use a blindfold) and then use the items to make noise and have your children guess what nature item you are using. For example, hit two rocks together, crinkle fall leaves, shake a few acorns in your hands, or rub two pinecones together.
How are you listening to in nature this week?
ABOUT HIKE IT BABY
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. With more than 300 communities across North America, they firmly believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. To learn more, visit HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. To support their mission and further their programming aimed at supporting families, donate here.