Now that Spring is here, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor activities for the kids. This guest post from Paul Moore has some fun science lesson ideas for your next visit to the lake. And, if you bring a notebook for each child, they can make notes along the way!
It’s relatively easy to enjoy the great outdoors with your children, but did you know that you can turn family time into an honest to goodness learning experience? Children love to spend time outside, and their natural inquisitiveness means that exploring is exciting. Nature walks offer a perfect combination of quality family time and an educational experience.
If you live near a lake or know that you’ll be visiting the lakeshore during your next vacation, be sure to spend some time exploring the waterfront. Not only will your family get in some exercise, but also, you can incorporate a few mini science lessons that would make any teacher proud!
Before you get started, always remember that kids need constant supervision around water, regardless of whether or not they know how to swim. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen! Here are four simple activities to try during your next lakeshore expedition.
It’s OK to Get Dirty!
Kids will be kids, which means that most of them have no qualms about getting messy. For once, allow your kids to get dirty with your permission! Take plastic cups, bowls or buckets and kid-friendly shovels or plastic measuring cups. Let your kids dig through the sand or dirt along the shore and fill various containers with lake water. Mix the two together and test out different consistencies. Ask your kids to determine what happens if you add more water or more sand. The possibilities are nearly endless, but make sure that hands are washed thoroughly afterward and that no one eats or drinks dirty lake water.
Play “Name Five Things”
While walking along the lakeshore, choose a category and ask your children to name five things that they see that fit into the group — five types of plants, five different animals, or even something as simple as five objects that are the same color. Name Five Things can be as easy or difficult as you’d like it to be, making it perfect for kids of all ages.
Make a Photo Album
Allow your budding photographers to snap pictures of anything and everything that interests them, from boats and boaters to the water and sea life. Just don’t drop the camera (or phone) into the lake! Once you get home, print the photos and make a lakeshore photo album. Label the photos that contain recognizable objects and do a bit of research to learn about the objects that are new to you.
Create a Lakeshore Memory Kit
A memory box is a great way to keep track of special things. Collect a small plastic container of dirt or sand from the lakeshore, pieces of grass or other plants that you found during your nature walk, rocks or shells from the shore, and other pertinent items. Just be sure you’re allowed to keep the things that you pick up. In some areas, plants or other items are protected, and you don’t want to get into trouble with local law enforcement.
Hands-on activities are popular with kids, which is why learning about science by taking a nature walk along the lake is much more exciting than watching a video or reading a book. Encourage your kids to make observations and ask plenty of questions. If you don’t know the answer, work together and find out!
Paul Moore works with Smith Mountain Homes, a real estate team providing listings for properties around Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.