10 www.kidsonthecoast.com.au | www.kidsinthecitymagazine.com.au
AS BUSY PARENTS WE SPEND OUR TIME ASSESSING AND EVALUATING THE
EXPERIENCES WE WANT TO SHARE WITH OUR CHILDREN, WITH WEEKENDS OFTEN
BECOMING A CYCLE OF CULTURAL VISITS TO THE CITY OR DAY TRIPS TO THE
COAST FOR SOME SURF AND SUN. WE SELECT DESTINATIONS ON THEIR MERITS TO
EDUCATE, ENTHRAL AND CAPTURE OUR CHILDREN’S INTEREST AND IMAGINATIONS.
HOWEVER, IN DOING SO, WE OFTEN OVERLOOK THE DISCOVERIES AND NATURE
EXPERIENCES THAT ARE ONLY A SHORT WALK FROM OUR DOORSTEP – THOSE
HIDDEN LITTLE TREASURES THAT ARE JUST WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED.
Walking with your children is more than just great
exercise and a few extra steps on your Fitbit. It’s an
investment of your time and a rare opportunity to
share one-on-one moments with your children. It can
also be fun and educational.
There are lots of games you can play when walking,
from jumping over cracks in the cement footpath
to racing competitions. One of my favourites is the
shadow game. True to its name, the shadow game is
about making different shadow shapes with your body
as you walk, from tall giraffes with arms up high to
arms out wide as flying birds in the sky. My two, being
typical siblings, also like to turn the shadow game
into ‘Mummy, I’m standing on your shadow head’ and
‘Sister, I’m jumping on your stomach’. You may get a
few odd looks from the neighbours, but the laughter
is worth it.
The shadow game is more than just a little fun – it’s
an important lesson in the science of the universe. It
gives you a practical opportunity to put into context
the earth’s orbit, changes of seasons, the difference
between day and night and, with older children, a
starting point to a discussion on the solar system.
You can always follow up the walk with a trip to the
local library to research the solar system or a YouTube
tutorial on the earth’s orbit.
11www.kidsonthecoast.com.au | www.kidsinthecitymagazine.com.au
Nature treasure hunt
It’s surprising how many ‘treasures’ you can find
walking around your neighbourhood. Rocks, feathers,
flowers, seedpods and sticks are all there for the
taking if you take the time to look. Many can simply
be found near the footpath or green strip outside
your home. Being a keen gardener, I particularly
love collecting leaf treasures and it’s also become
a favourite treasure hunt for my children. We hunt
for different sensory leaf features like colour, shape,
scent and texture. We discuss what is the same and
what is different about each of our nature finds. These
treasures are then stored in a ‘nature box’ for later use
in craft and art projects.
Aside from the sensory value of leaf collecting, leaf
treasure hunts are an opportunity to discuss all sorts
of topics with your children, from the biology of
plants, covering the process of photosynthesis and
why it is vital for plants to grow, to air pollution and
why growing plants of any kind is important for our
environment. Hunting for nature treasures is more than
just looking for pretty things – it’s the foundation of
understanding the importance of our environment and
our children’s place in it. And scientific research shows
that plants make you smile, therefore improving one’s
state of mind, wellbeing and happiness.
Aside from games and treasure hunts, walking in your
neighbourhood is also a fantastic way to discover
secret hidden places or local parklands you didn’t
know existed close to home. For me, walking with
my children has been a fantastic way to explore
our unfamiliar northside suburb in the Moreton Bay
Region, a pretty place with picturesque creeks and
bushlands where you can still spot the occasional
wallaby or even koala!
Only last summer, we took a detour on a walk to the
local supermarket to discover the most beautiful little
spot down by the creek. It was breathtaking, a lush
grassy area under the canopy of a Moreton Bay Fig,
filtering light through its leaves as butterflies in every
colour you could imagine fluttered around us. We
unanimously agreed it was magical and if fairies are
real, this is where they live. In the eight years I’ve lived
here I had never before visited this magical spot just
ten minutes walk from our front door.
Discovering these secret spots is a lesson in the
balance of urbanisation and nature’s place in it. I
believe this is so important for children, not only for
their awareness of the natural environment but also
their imagination. Who doesn’t want fairies living
around the corner!
Take time out
This weekend, take some time out and walk in your
neighbourhood. Go for a treasure hunt, collect some
sticks, bring them home and make a dream catcher.
Go on an adventure. Climb a tree by the creek and
think about what animals live there. Or just walk down
the street and play a game of shadows.
Every moment outside engaging in nature, no matter
how small or insignificant it may seem, is the window
of opportunity to share so many more wonderful things
about our world and it’s environment.
Walking with your children
in nature…it’s fun!
Renee is a self-confessed fun maker. She
admits to being a time poor working mother
of two, but believes that getting kids outdoors
and engaged with nature is one of the most
important childhood experiences. It’s a way
to teach children about the environment,
food production, healthy living, science and
sustainable practices in a fun and physical
way. She invites you to explore nature just a
short drive from Brisbane and the Sunshine
Coast in the Moreton Bay Region.
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