A ‘noticing’ nature walk: why it’s good for children
Going on a nature walk and deliberately noticing things encourages children to observe with all their senses.
A nature walk can help your child learn to focus their attention and take in the details of things around them. It can also be a peaceful, reflective experience for you and your child.
What you need for a noticing nature walk
All you need is somewhere to walk.
- walk around your local area if you live near the bush
- go to a local park or nature reserve
- plan a longer excursion to a nature reserve or beach.
How to do a noticing nature walk
Walk with your child, at your child’s pace.
Encourage your child to pay attention to the environment with all their senses. You can do this by asking questions as you go. For example:
- Seeing questions: what can you see? Look all around you, up at the sky and down at the ground.
- Smelling questions: what can you smell? Can you describe the smell? Leafy? Like mud?
- Hearing questions: what can you hear? Birds? The wind? Other people?
- Feeling and touching questions: what can you feel? Is the sun warm? Is the ground rough or smooth?
You can collect small items, if you’re allowed to, like leaves, pebbles and feathers. Talk about them – for example, ‘What kind of bird do you think this came from?’ and ‘What a pretty pattern on that leaf!’ This can start a conversation about why it’s important to respect the environment. For example, ‘Our environment allows us to live. We need to care for it, so that it can live too’.
Take as long as your child wants. You don’t have to finish the walk if something catches your child’s interest along the way. Let the walk be about connecting with the environment and enjoying time together, rather than getting to the end.
When you get home, make some time for your child to reflect on the walk. Your child could draw pictures of it, write a story about it, or perhaps make a collage with some of the items they collected.
Adapting a noticing nature walk for children of different ages or children with diverse abilities
You can adapt this activity to your child’s age in the way you talk, the questions you ask, how far you walk or wheel, and how fast or slow you go.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.
Australian national parks
- ACT Government – Find a park
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service – Find a park
- Northern Territory Government – Find a park
- Queensland Government – Find a park
- National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia – Search national parks
- Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service – Explore our parks
- Parks Victoria – Explore diverse landscapes
- WA Parks and Wildlife Service – Explore parks WA