Polk County Conservation

Connecting Kids to Nature

This podcast was produced by Polk County Conservation and funded by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education program or REAP-CEP.

Hi! My name is Heidi Anderson and today I’m taking a nature hike with my family. It’s so nice to take a break from all the chores, duties, schedules, and stress to spend time outdoors together. These days children are getting outdoors less and less. Many parents I’ve talked with do not know how to explore the outdoors with their children.

It may not be as hard as you think. Let your child be your guide. Ask open ended questions that will encourage him or her to investigate further.

“Mom, look over here! I found a footprint.” - child

Where do you think the animal was going? Did it have big or small feet?

“Well, its toes are pointing in that direction so it must have been going that way and it’s feet seem pretty small.” - child

Do you think it was walking or hopping? What do your tracks look like when you walk or hop?

“I think it was walking. Can I take off my shoes and walk in the mud to see my footprints?” - child

As a parent you have tremendous influence as a role model. If you are afraid of snakes or spiders, your child is likely to follow your example. On the other hand, if you’re the first one to climb a tree or pick up a worm, your child may be eager to try it too.

It’s also okay if you don’t know the names and answers to everything. Be your child’s partner in the game of discovery.

“Look, I found a beetle! What is it?” - child

I don't know, but it has spots and runs fast. What should we call it?

“Let's call it the Speedy Spotty Beetle.” -child

Anytime of the year, something amazing is happening outside your window. Encourage your child to look closer at a flower or a rock, listen to a bird song, sniff the rich damp earth, and touch a fuzzy leaf or a tree's rough bark.

For more ideas visit the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour website at greenhour.org. This site gives parents and caregivers the information, tools, and inspiration to get their kids, and themselves, outside. Giving our kids unstructured outdoor play time makes them happier, healthier...even smarter.

(Bird call)

Do you hear that?

“Yeah, it sounds like a bird! -child

Let's see if we can find where it's coming from.

This podcast was funded by REAP-CEP which is a program the State of Iowa invests in to enhance and protect the state's natural and cultural resources. REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. For more information about REAP, visit iowareap.com.

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12130 NW 128th St
Granger, IA 50109

P: (515) 323-5300
F: (515) 323-5354

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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