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. Children can learn to focus their attention and take in the details of things around them. It can be a peaceful, reflective experience for you and your children.
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!’
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 leaves and feathers.
Adapting a noticing nature walk for children of different ages
You can adapt this activity to your child’s age in the way you talk, the questions you ask, how far you walk and how fast or slow you go.
Australian national parks
- ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate – Find a park
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service – Find a park
- Northern Territory Government – Find a park to visit
- Queensland Government – Find a park or forest
- National Parks South Australia – Find a park
- Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service – National parks
- Parks Victoria – Find a park
- WA Parks and Wildlife Service – Explore parks WA