This fall is all about sustainability. In order to leave a legacy of environmental awareness with my kids, I realize that I need to actually get out in nature! This week I want to focus not only on WHAT I should do with my family, but WHY. How can family time be an opportunity for valuable lessons?
Here is how to guide the conversations with your family while enjoying the outdoors this fall.
Going for a Hike
This is the easiest option. Just find a local walking trail and go! You don’t need to bring a million things with you. Just fill a small backpack with the essentials and start walking. We are lucky enough to be close to a state park that has some easy prairie trail loop. It even has a statue of a bison that makes for a fun feature for the kids to look for.
Why It’s Important.
Not only can you enjoy the quiet focus of a trail, you can use it as an opportunity to help your children learn to appreciate nature.
- What do you notice? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell?
- Why do you think people like this area?
- What do you think this are will look like in 50 years?
Visit the Pumpkin Patch, Apple Orchard, or Farm
Why it’s Important:
I want my kids to know where food actually comes from. It doesn’t just magically appear in the grocery store. The food actually has to be grown by someone over a long period of time. They can also see how much work it can be to harvest the food.
- What is growing here?
- How long do you think it took to grow this food?
- If we were to grow our own garden, what should we plant?
Clean-Up the Neighborhood Park
Going to the park is a simple outdoor activity, but honestly sometimes we aren’t fortunate enough to live in the cleanest area. So why not make it happen? Use proper safety gear (gloves especially) and spend some time with the kids cleaning up the playground closest to your home.
Why It’s Important:
If not us, then who? If I’m not the one to step up and make our home a clean place, who will? I can’t rely on others to make my neighborhood the way I want it to be. It’s my job to build my community. It’s my job to take care of the resources we have.
- Why is it important to clean up the park?
- What could happen if we left the garbage all around?
- How does this garbage impact the animals who live here?
Garden Conservatory or Botanical Gardens
I LOVE visiting local gardens with my boys and their cousins. The cousins (ages 6, 4, 3, and 2) have so much fun exploring the different trails. It’s like an old fashioned adventure in a controlled environment. Of course, it can get a little stressful making sure they don’t run into the other patrons, but we’re working on that. :)
Why it’s important:
The unique things about most botanical gardens is their ability to replicate a climate different from your own. This offers a wonderful opportunity to start discussion on how weather and climate influence how plants grow.
- Why do some plants need to be grown inside? What can’t they all be outside?
- What do you think would happen to all of our plants if the world was covered in ice?
- What do you think would happen to all of our plants if the world got really hot all over?
What about petting zoos and local farms?
This is where your outdoor activities can lead to an important conversation. Yes, we LOVE taking our kids to meet animals. Feeding them is such a valuable education activity.
However, we also want to let this be a conversation about whether or not animals should be used for our own entertainment. There is a lot of debate on the ethical nature of petting zoos.
Whether you are for or against this experience, it’s definitely worth having that conversation with your kids this fall.
- What do you notice about the animals? How do they look, smell and sound?
- What do the animals eat?
- Where did these animals originally come from?
- Why do you think the animals need to live here instead of in the wild?