One of the things that is so precious about spending time outdoors with children is that conversations flow. It must have something to do with a feeling of freedom, fresh air, and a sense that ‘anything could happen’. When you’re on a hike, or clambering over the rocks at the end of the beach, there’s no routine. There’s no time restriction. And children revel in it! (So do I, to be honest). This is the perfect environment to really interact and have some delightful conversations that you’ll likely remember for ages. There is also the distinct possibility that someone’s jandal will break, pants could be pooed in, and I guarantee somebody small will just sit down, fully clothed, right in a rockpool and declare they are not walking a step further. In which case these questions may prove the perfect diversionary tactic.
Here are some conversation starters and ideas you could present to children when you’re out and about – just see what they throw back at you! Even really little children will have some grasp of these concepts – I’m amazed at how my two year old chats about some of these things:
- Why does the tide come in and go out? What does it have to do with the moon?
- Why is it light during the day and dark and night? Does the planet ‘go to bed?’
- Why do we have different seasons? What do you know about the seasons? Which one is your favourite? Why?
- Why is sand all different colours and textures? Where does it come from?
- What is the difference between evergreen and deciduous trees?
- What does it mean to have native and introduced trees?
- Do you know the names of any native trees? Could you recognise them? How?
- What does it mean to have native and introduced animals?
- Do you know the names of any native animals or birds? Do you have a favourite?
- Some introduced animals have become a real problem. Explain about possums, rats, cats and dogs, and what they can do to native birds. Encourage the children to draw their own conclusions.
- Look up close at the kinds of rocks around you. Are they crumbly and soft, hard and sharp, smooth or jagged, stripy or sparkly? Why do you think they might be that way?
- Although there are many good things to eat found out in nature, there are also plenty of things that are seriously poisonous. Have a discussion about things that are safe to eat (eg things that might grow in a vege garden) vs dangerous things to avoid (like unknown mushrooms, stinging nettles….and cutty grass?!)
- Take a bag with you and pick up any rubbish you might find along the way. Have a conversation about what is recyclable, what is biodegradable, and what will just have to go into landfill. Encourage the children to come to their own conclusions about landfill problems.
- Why does the sun come up in the east and go down in the west? Explain the concept of north, south, east and west. Why do we need to know these things?
- Wind. Which direction is it coming from? Why does the wind blow?
- Where does rain come from?
- Are there any bees around? Talk about flowers, pollen, and honey.
- Why do rivers flow one way and not the other? Talk about gravity.
- Lie still for a bit, maybe having a cuddle. Listen hard to all the sounds around you. What can you hear? Do you know what is making that noise? What do you think it might be saying?
- Turn the tables on your child. Whilst you’re ambling along, ask THEM to tell YOU something interesting.
You may like to print this out for future reference, or to take along with you on your next outing. Have fun with it, and if you get any hilarious answers, PLEASE do share in the comments!
Calling all outdoorsy mamas!
Join our community and receive outdoorsy inspiration in your inbox.