How to Help Children Appreciate Nature

As a parent, you most likely want to help children that you know, such as foster children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, as well as your own children love nature. However, nowadays, many children are not going outside or doing much, and instead they are finding themselves in front of the TV or computer. If you'd like to know how you can help children appreciate nature, then keep reading this article.


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    Be a role model. Learn a bit first through books, the internet, a local museum, a ranger, or educational program. Carry a simple guidebook with you that has illustrations.
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    Set an example. You must be interested first. That means you must observe quietly and unobtrusively. You must notice things to show them.
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    Notice even simple things. For smaller children, a pretty leaf is enough to interest them. Or a bug, a flower, even if it's common, a bird, clouds, a rocky hill-- all can be interesting to notice details of.
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    Keep your eyes and ears open. This means less talk at first. Teach children to be quiet and still around animals, with their hands at their sides.
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    Ask questions. Help children notice through guided questioning, a series of simple questions leading from the obvious to the point you want to make.
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    Tell children to ask you questions. Show them the habit of questioning, being curious. Show them that an inquisitive mind is rewarded.
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    Bring a notebook or drawing paper. Younger children can draw what they see, older children can keep a log, a list, a journal.
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    Categorize items for children to help them form associations. For younger children, plants and animals is a good start. For older children, animals vs. bird, or trees vs. vines may be better.
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    Show children as many details as you can. Show them parts of a leaf or flower, the colors of the rocks, the colors on the bird.
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    Urge children to use all their senses. Ask them not only to see but also hear, smell, and touch. Ask them to describe each kind of sensory impression. Be careful of tasting unfamiliar plants, though.
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    Help children summarize what they have seen at the end. Ask them what they enjoyed, to stimulate discussion. Ask them what they want to know more about.


  • When using their senses, children can listen for birds, wind, leaves, tides, waves, running water, echoes, or animals. Children can smell flowers, plants, water, stream beds, burned trees, bark, even rocks. Children can touch anything that's not poisonous or a wild animal. These might include furry leaves, pebbles or sand, seeds, feathers, ice.
  • Be honest with children. Sometimes nature is discomforting. Animals eat other animals. Some plants are parasitic. Animals die and their remains are re-absorbed into the soil. Depending on the child's age, you should discuss such things if you see them.
  • Protect children from very hot or cold weather, from extreme sun or from becoming over-thirsty. Give them light gloves to protect their hands from sharp rocks, cactus, or thorny bushes.
  • Don't shy away from difficult questions. Children may ask lots of "why" questions, and if you don't know, suggest a research trip to the local library or museum together.
  • Leave nature alone. Don't you or children unduly disturb what you find. Leave the flowers on the plant, the nest in the bush, the rock in the stream. Pick up only one small sample of a very common and plentiful item for smaller children only, such as an orange leaf. Remember they will lose interest once it arrives home. It is a good idea to redirect them by pointing out something else, especially if they really begin to disrespect the nature.
  • Do some crafts that have to do with nature with your child. There are many on wikiHow, or you can do some that you know, or even just use your imagination. Go outside with your child to gather the materials to do the craft you'd like to do.


  • Do not approach or feed semi-tamed wild animals such as chipmunks. They can bite when they feel cornered and can carry rabies, plague, hantavirus, etc.
  • Watch for poison oak or ivy in areas where these grow. If you can't recognize them yourself, learn or bring a picture with you. Then make sure children avoid them. Dangerous allergic reactions can occur in children and adults.
  • Avoid crawling through thick brush or marshes. Ticks, chiggers, and fleas can be attracted to you. If you are in such areas, inspect yourself and your children completely when you leave. This means lifting up shirts and rolling up pants. If necessary, use insect repellent on all exposed skin.

Things You'll Need

  • A guidebook or pictures of plants and animals in your area
  • A notebook or drawing pad, pencils
  • A collecting bag of paper or plastic
  • Binoculars
  • Sun hat and glasses
  • Lightweight gloves
  • Camera
  • Insect repellent

Article Info

Categories: Raising Children