We spend a lot of time outside in the summer. We smear on some sunscreen, spritz on herbal bug spray, and head into the great outdoors.
There’s so much to experience.
In the busy-ness of our culture, it’s easy to forget the pleasures that being outside can bring. I encourage you to spend a morning or an evening (afternoons are just too hot!) doing a few of the following with your kids:
- Be amazed. The world around us is amazing. From the tiniest mosquito to the greatest oak tree, God made each and every part unique and interesting, perfectly suited to its niche and incredible in its detail. Look at nature with fresh eyes, appreciating the awe it deserves.
- Lay on a blanket and watch the clouds. Those thick, puffy clouds we have on nice days are called cumulus clouds. They morph from one amazing shape into the next as winds blow high above our heads. See what designs you can come up with. Tell a story about the creatures you see.
- Collect leaves. Leaves are magnificent. First, every different kind of plant has a unique leaf. They are all sizes and shapes and many different colors. To me, simple leaves are a sign of God’s incredible creativity. Yesterday, my daughter decided to collect a leaf from every plant in our yard. She collected as long as her 7-year-old attention span would permit, and she proudly showed me her collection. We found a large book (A phone book works great.) and stuck the leaves in a few pages apart. We’ll leave them there for a month, until they’re dried and smooth, and then we’ll either decoupage them onto something or glue them into a nature journal. If you’re not into drying leaves, you can do leaf rubbings with a crayon, talking about the intricacies of each leaf and how God made them with veins that move liquid just like ours. Simply place the leaf smooth side down, lay a piece of paper over it, and rub the flat side of a crayon across it.
- Draw a blob. Take a piece of string and lay it in a roundish shape in the grass. In your journal, draw the shape and try to draw all of the creatures you see in it. Use a magnifying glass. If your kids are little, do one drawing all together. If they’re big, you could each do your own. Have colored pencils ready to capture the striking colors of the bugs you’ll see.
- Grow something. You don’t have to grow a whole garden. Get a packet of sunflower seeds or morning glories or even some green beans. Sprout them between a damp paper towel and the edge of a zipper plastic bag so your kids can see how the roots grow down (always) and the sprout grows up (always). This is by design, not by chance. Transplant your itty bitty plants into soil (if the roots stick to the paper towel, plant it, too). Tend to the plant and watch it grow. Even more exciting (but also more involved) is to plant a fairy garden.
- Go birding. Buy or borrow a pair of binoculars and a bird field guide and look for birds. Notice how God made each one uniquely suited to its food. Wading birds have long, skinny legs that hold their bodies above the water and long, skinny beaks for plucking up fish; ducks and geese have webbed feet for propelling through the water; hummingbirds have long, skinny beaks for reaching the nectar deep inside of flowers; most songbirds have short, powerful beaks for crushing the outer hulls of seeds. Birds are like leaves – there are an infinite different kinds, and each one is different from the last. Marvel at His creativity.
- Camp out in the backyard. I am not sleeping in a tent in my backyard (or anywhere) any time soon. But I am willing to set up a tent in my backyard and “camp” for the afternoon with my kids. We listen to all the sounds of nature, we sing songs and tell stories, and when my husband gets home from work, he builds a campfire and we roast hot dogs for dinner and eat s’mores into the evening. Before bedtime, we roll up camp and head inside to our comfy beds.
- Do a nature scavenger hunt. Make a quick list of items for your kids to find – a colored leaf, a pill bug, a stick shorter than their hand, a white rock, and so on. Go on a walk or head to the park with a shoebox to help them find their items.
- Do nature crafts. Collect lots of different leaves, sticks, pebbles, and interesting items from nature. Bring them inside and let your kids use them to make whatever they want. They’ll come up with something.
The Camouflage Bible is the perfect accompaniment to your outdoor adventures this month. With editions in pink AND green, both boys and girls will love this Bible that connects them even deeper with God’s creation and the outdoors. Of course, nature-loving kids will also love the King of Everything Bible! Whichever one you decide to pick up, just remember to remind your kids Who created all there is to explore in nature and all around us.
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How do you like to explore God’s creation with your kids over the summer?