• sharon
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      What great ideas are being shared. Thank you for all of them. Was able to purchase a pair of plastic binoculars for my 4yo grandson. One he got the hang of looking through them, he realized they magnified things and was eager to look at things "close by".  Being a birder, I would point out different birds to him.  Later, when he and his mother went for a walk, he would ask her what every type of bird was!  He asked, "Why is it there/here?"  It was nice to see that our little ventures into the backyard, with his "binos" sparked additional interest in birds.
    • Diane
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      So many good ideas. I love activities that allow kids to freely direct themselves and/or use tools that they are often shooed away from. Open ended “I wonder…” statements have been effective with my kids. I am often tempted to share (too many) facts with them but setting an intention to wonder instead of teach really is much more engaging. It is a small shift in perspective but helpful.
    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I took a small group of kids to the forest equipped with binoculars, hand lenses and handheld microscopes. It was such a joy watching them use those tools to observe all kinds of things. They were so excited just to be there and explore without an "assignment" to complete.
    • Carol
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I have led hikes on a wildlife refuge. People were always expressing disappointment when they never saw the 'wildlife' . Now I take kids on a detective hunt. We look for 'evidence' such as scat where we try to tell who made it & what they ate from the clues like hair and bones, tracks in the sand that show where a wolf chased deer ( a story all by itself!) we look at tracks made by a mother sea turtle & discuss how to tell the difference between nesting turtle tracks and alligator tail drag marks. One of the best examples I saw was when a Ranger was leading a hike on a coal mine refuse bing. Nothing much had grown there but we saw a cracked snail shell. Turned out it was dropped on a stone by a bird looking to access the meat inside. So even if you don't see the fauna , there is evidence all around and stories to be read in the evidence they create.
      • Diane
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        I tried this after reading your post. Smart. We were expecting to see rabbits in a spot we often see them. None showed. But when we looked for evidence we did find scat, which was informative and got some grins.
      • Kathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        An excellent idea!
    • Charlotte
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      My favorite method of engaging children in nature is to allow them to observe, discover, and direct their own curiosity. Children come up with the craziest ideas and plans, and allowing those ideas to guide the exploration (within reason) is a great way to build that child's self esteem, as well as building on their discovery and research skills.
      • Diane
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        It is a delight to see kids come up with ideas and plans that they can enjoy and be proud of.
    • Mike
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      In my Family Nature Club we always begin by giving thanks. I ask if anyone has something they're thankful for, then let them respond. I also love snakes, so I'm always encouraging them to find "a few good snakes" on our walks. We're not always successful, but it gets them looking. And I like to encourage curiosity and acceptance of the things that many people fear: snakes, spiders, bugs, and other "creepy crawlies." I teach them that very few things in nature are truly dangerous, and many of those things are fine as long as you leave them alone and avoid picking them up.
      • Diane
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        Gratitude is probably a good place to begin anything. I like that. How cool that you can share in a way that curbs unnecessary fear.
    • Michael
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I try to encourage my grandkids' curiosity as much as possible.   For example, my 7 year old grandson is fearless when it comes to catching lizards, particularly Western Fence Lizards.  We spent some time learning about them in a guide book that I have, along with a trip to the local library.  Recently, I received a guide to bats in western North America.  When my grandson saw it, he immediately asked if he could have it, so I bought a copy for him. My granddaughter and I planted sunflowers.  We harvested the seeds and used them in the bird feeders. I don't know who has more fun, me or them!
      • Diane
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        Lucky grandkids! These sound like fun and engaging choices. :)
    • Katie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      If we can find a hike with a beautiful overlook or some other payoff, that helps get reluctant ones along. Water always helps, or having a special treat for the day that we have when we "get there."
      • Diane
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        Water and treats work for us as well. :)