Raising Outdoor Kids – Take a Walk, Find Spring, and Build STEM Skills


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Raising outdoor kids © Courtesy of Let’s Talk Science

By Julie Misener

In a country with as many climates as Canada, spring arrives at different times and in different ways, but as the days get longer and life begins to speed up, it’s the perfect opportunity to pull on your boots and get outside with the kids. Exploring signs of spring is a great way to build curiosity, problem-solving skills and creativity. Active outdoor play enhances learning and sparks insights about the physical world.

Just like breathing in the spring air often energizes us as adults, active engagement with the natural world can have a positive impact on brain development, encouraging learning and new connections, according to researchers. Studies have found that children who engage in more hands-on exploration learn more words and could develop a stronger understanding of concepts.

Make it fun

A game of spring bingo or a scavenger hunt will sharpen awareness of and appreciation for the natural world and get kids asking questions. Make a list of things to find that touch all their senses; this could include grass, raindrops, birds, mud, insects, animal tracks, etc.

Give kids some tools to help them discover. A magnifying glass, a container and shovel, a bug box, or a book with pictures to help identify birds, insects, trees or flowers in your local area can empower a child to explore the outdoors. A nature journal for kids between eight and 12 can help them slow down and really enjoy nature. If you’re having trouble breaking the connection with tech, let your kids bring a phone/camera to create a video or photo journal. Encourage a focus on recording how each of your five senses tells you spring is here.

Notice signs of spring through your senses

  • There’s lots to see—worms after it rains, snow melting, and busy birds migrating north.
  • There’s lots to listen for—bees buzzing, birds calling to each other, and frogs peeping and croaking.
  • There’s the scent of wet earth, rain, and spring flowers.
  • There’s a taste of maple syrup, new peas, and strawberries.
  • There’s lots to feel, including warm sunshine, brisk wind, slushy snow, and mushy mud.

Spring offers a wonderful, free opportunity to explore, ask questions and have fun. Unstructured time in nature allows kids to develop their own activities and approach the world in new, inventive ways that help build STEM skills that will benefit them for years. Learn more at letstalkscience.ca

*Julie Misener is a Coordinator, Report & Proposal Writer at Let’s Talk Science.

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