8 Steps to a Successful Nature Walk

Jun 13, 2013

8 Steps to a Successful Nature Walk

Today is Day 4 of my 5-day series on Summertime Nature Studies.  

I want to talk about nature walks today.

Like a scavenger hunt, a nature walk can be as big or small a deal as you make it. You can drive to a forest for your nature walk or you can have one in your back yard.

You can bring your nature backpacks filled with "tools of the trade" and have a full-on nature study. Or you can simply go for a walk, listening and observing. 

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8 Steps to a Successful Nature Walk

A successful nature walk takes a little planning. Here are a few tips.

1. Decide your location. Your backyard? Neighborhood? A state or national forest? Maybe even a park if it offers enough in the way of nature. A farm or zoo is a great place to study an animal. 

2. Set the stage. Do a little research ahead of time to find out what types of plants, trees, animals, insects, etc.. are at that location. Talk with the children about the various things they may see while at the location.

3. Choose a topic. Or not. Decide if you'll be looking for certain things on this walk. Perhaps you'll collect and identify various leaves from trees. Maybe you'll listen for sounds of scurrying critters and try to see them. Maybe you'll collect pine needles or pine cones. Perhaps you'll just walk and notice things as you go. 

4. Dress appropriately. Children who are too hot or cold are not going to be happy, observant children. Pay attention to the weather and dress them for it. Make sure they're wearing sneakers to protect their feet. In the summer, be sure to have some type of bug repellent. (Ticks and mosquitoes can ruin any nature walk!)

5. Bring tools. This could be a hiking backpack. They'll definitely need their nature journalsIt could be as simple as their eyes and ears and the ability to narrate afterwards. I find that varying the types of nature walks keeps the task interesting. Sometimes kids just want to walk and look and not do a lot of "work".

Field guides, however, are a must-have. It's fun to find what you're looking for and match it to the book. In our house, a camera is also a must-have. 

6. Food and drink. Do you know what's worse than a kid who is too hot or cold? A kid who is hungry and thirsty. Once those blood sugar levels fall, you'll be miserable too. So bring plenty of water and healthy snacks. Protein is important so make sure you have some fruit, veggies or peanut-butter-crackers. 

7. Follow Up. When you get home, discuss the day. Talk about the things you saw, heard and did. This not only reinforces what they've learned but helps create beautiful childhood memories. 

8. Have fun! Education is important but memory-making is too. If the children aren't enjoying themselves, they're not likely to want to do it again. Nature walks should be pleasant, peaceful and enjoyable. If your plan isn't working, don't be afraid to change gears. If you head out to collect pine needles but come by tree lichen that catches the kids' interest..go with it. What's important is that they enjoy the nature walk. 

Does your family go on nature walks? Do you have more tips to add? Feel free to share in the comments.

nature study

Original butterflies photo: linder6580


  1. We always take a packet of salt to get rid of leeches- we get them here & finding them all over your legs can ruin everything!

    1. Oh wow! That would freak me out completely.


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