Children are inside these days more often than not. When outside, they are generally playing a sport or splashing in a pool. To give your children an appreciation for nature and ecology, get them started on an outdoor hobby.
If you don't already have a bird identification book, consider getting one. Bird watching is a great, quiet hobby that can become a lifelong interest.To attract birds to your yard, you will need a bird feeder. The easiest king of feeder to maintain and fill is a platform bird feeder. Many birds prefer ground feeling and all you need to do to maintain it is dump out the old seed debris and pour new seed in. This can be a job for your children.
Place the feeder close to a window so it can be easily observed. Once birds start to arrive, they can be located in the identification book, read about and checked off that they have been in your yard. Binoculars might be a good idea to see your visitors up close.
2. Insect identification
Insects are plentiful in most seasons. Arm your kids with magnifying glasses and a pad of paper.
Whenever they encounter a new species, they can draw it, then come in and identify what they found via the internet. There they can determine what their insect is named, what it eats and in some cases like caterpillars, what it will turn into.
3. Tree and Leaf Identification
Chances are there are numerous types of trees near your home. If not, consider a walk in a park or forest. Cemeteries are also great places to observe a variety of trees.
It can be exciting to identify and name a tree. It is also useful knowledge and vocabulary for life. When leaves start to fall in autumn, your kids can work on identifying which trees they fell from and keeping a chart of the color variations.
4. Weather Watching
Even children know that big angry-looking clouds in summer probably mean a thunderstorm. However, there is a huge variety of sky, wind and cloud conditions to be observed.
Meteorology websites can help kids identify clouds and weather patterns. They can even learn to predict the weather and compare it to what the news meteorologist says. Imagine their excitement when they predict the weather correctly!
Gardening is another useful and potentially lifelong pursuit. Instead of just enlisting your child's help raking or pulling weeds, try planting seeds or even a tree with them.
Imagine their pride as they care for their special plant or tree and watch it grow.
6. Animal Track Identification
In winter or after a wet spell, a variety of footprints may be seen in and around your yard. Many shy creatures like deer and rabbits might call your yard home at night and you would never know without their footprints.
Your next walk in the woods should also yield a variety of prints, some which might become familiar. Your family can even take all of the equipment needed along and make a mold of the tracks for a permanent footprint.
Photography is a fulfilling art form that can become a new hobby for the whole family. Although kids and teenagers seem adept at shooting selfies, nature photography is an art worth trying.
Whether you will be using a phone's camera or an impressive SLR camera with a tripod, so much can be learned about framing the desired subject and such things as whether or not to use a flash. You can download the digital photos and with fun apps you can make collages, have postcards of the photos sent to family or even make a blanket out of them. This will create a sense of pride for your children as well as instilling a love for the beauty of nature.
Have your kids put down the remotes and gaming equipment and go out to experience all of the fun they can have by starting new outdoor hobbies.