There is so much research-based evidence suggesting the importance of outdoor play for early childhood development.
From an increase in mood, risk-taking, motivation, and problem-solving, the great outdoors is the original playground blueprint.
Playing outdoors leaves children free to use their imagination while learning about the world around them through all their senses.
Besides sharing time with your child outdoors, there are numerous great reads on outdoor adventures to inspire a love of nature!
The Nest Schools has put together a brief list of nature themed books to inspire your next family adventure.
Interested in plants and have the yard space? Consider growing a garden with your child!
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown follows a young boy’s mission to create a greener world. While he is out exploring, he makes a discovery: a struggling garden! The young boy decides to give the area some much needed care and love. As the days pass, the growing garden takes over the nearby sad city, creating a beautiful and green new world.
It is a great book to inspire change – especially if you live in a city and want to start a community garden. Consider keeping a journal about the plant growth cycle.
Plant seeds with your child and watch them grow and have your child draw what they see.
Bugging about Nature? Check out this book and activities about insects!
Let’s Learn about Bugs and Animals: The Backyard Bug Book for Kids: Storybook, Insect Facts, and Activities by Lauren Davidson has everything you’d want in bug books for kids: a story, pictures, and activities combined. Introduce your little one to the types of bugs they’re likely to see during their day, then help them remember what they’ve learned with fun, on-the-page challenges.
In the same plant journal (or even a new journal just for animals and insects), find some cool insects and sketch them! You could even try to recreate an insect, such as an ant, out of recycled materials you have around the house.
Consider creating an insect house or visiting a butterfly garden. Both activities can help to teach your child about the life cycles of insects.
Would you still love me if I was a worm? Of course!
The Worm Who Knew Karate by Terry Denton and Jill Lever take on the subject of worms with a funny and clever storyline. The story follows a worm who decides to become big and brave and strong by way of learning karate. This is also a lesson in building self-confidence! Although the story is about becoming big and brave, you can still use it to teach your child about worms and why they are important.
Start by digging up some dirt and searching for earth worms in your backyard. You can even buy a worm farm, feed the worms, and learn what food they like best if you feel inclined to do so!
Don’t miss out! Let’s learn about bogs.
Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild follows a character that lives in a bog. This is a must-have book for nature-curious children. The book is brought to life by beautiful illustrations and focuses on challenging ourselves, discovering new things, and playing outdoors.
We recommend finding a park, garden, or any other outdoor space that you have not seen yet while reading this book with your child.
Make sure to take your time to enjoy all the small pleasures around you, such as a bird singing in a nearby tree or how the sun feels when it shines on you and your family!
Go on a hiking adventure with your family
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is a classic book that is so much fun to read and sing along to! I bet you can still hear the tune in your head from when you were a child.
Follow in the adventure as the family adventures through the grass, wade through the river, and “squelch” through the mud in search of a bear!
No, your family does not have to go on a real bear hunt! However, what about a pretend bear hunt? Go in search of long grass, splashy water, and sloshy mud. Don’t be afraid to get dirty while learning about the world around you!
The mess doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? Pack a bag and go on a short hike. Be sure to pack a few snacks for the trip!
Let’s learn about leaves.
Leaf by Stephen Michael King shows the beauty of loving nature, especially as a child.
The story tells of a little boy who grows his own seedling in his hair! He learns to love and care for his seedling with great determination.
He continues to care for his seedling as he grows older despite outside forces. The message behind the book resonates with all generations: appreciate the world around us and let nature be a part of our everyday lives.
Grow a beautiful plant together in a room of your home that your family frequents often. Make sure that the plant is non-toxic and has enough light. Teach your child how to care for the plant as well.
Surrounding ourselves with natural elements is a big part of outdoor play at The Nest Schools. At The Nest, we set out on a mission to create outdoor environments that encourage children to engage with nature. Our playgrounds are rich with safe plants, exciting natural play themes, and physical challenges. Children learn to assess risks and test their boundaries within a natural environment created with their safety, health, and skill-building in mind.
Whether you are new to taking play outdoors or an avid hiker wanting to buy a few nature-themed books for your growing family, we hope that this article has inspired a love of learning about the world around us!