14 Tips to Explore the Woods With Your Family

Make Art

There are so many possibilities to make art in a natural environment. Build sculptures or balancing mobiles with sticks, rocks and pieces of wood. Construct a tree fairy fort. Carry a sketchbook, some colored pencils and take a break to draw a flower, a leaf or a tree. Use the art to decorate a room in the house, for birthday cards or to create a journal of family adventures.

Take Pictures

Have everyone take turns with a digital camera. Take pictures of nature and the family interacting with the natural environment. The perspective of small children, uninhibited, can make for creative photographs. Plan to create a photo album together later.

Play Games

Especially for families with small children, breaking up the walk with simple kids' games can make it more enjoyable and can revive a child's energy. Pause for a game of leap frog, duck duck goose or tag. A family race back to the car is an easy trick if tired complaints have become mantra.

Do Homework

Sometimes the best place to memorize math facts or practice spelling words is away from the confines of home. Kids can often focus better in the woods, while moving, especially those with abundant energy. 

Make a walking game out of a multiplication chart. Create a spelling game or word definition game, which will help your children in the classroom. 

Design a Natural Scavenger Hunt

If the woods are familiar consider a scavenger hunt. Collect small natural objects such as acorns, pine cones, certain colored rocks, leaves or a branch that has five "fingers." Small rewards for the best finds can also add encouragement.

For the most part, it is best to leave pieces of the woods where you found them. Removing a few acorns won't likely cause problems, but remembering that critters live in the woods, eat there and use its contents for their own habitats, helps guide even small children to be respectful.


Participate in the modern treasure hunt using GPS or other navigational technology to play hide and seek with treasures. Using clues and other reference points. For more information on how to get involved in this growing outdoor recreation, go to the Official Global Cache GPS Hunt Site.

Make Walking in the Woods a Routine

Creating a family routine of a weekend walk in the woods. Even a short one can transform a child, or a family, and can help the environment. 

  • Walking is good exercise.
  • Fresh air and deep breathing relax the nervous system.
  • Routine leads to good discipline.
  • Establish regular exercise now leads to a healthier future, and a life of good habits.
  • Walks are a great opportunity to talk and for a family to connect.
  • Consistent family activities breed good relationships, dependability and stability.
  • Spending time in the woods develops observational skills and curiosity about nature.
  • Experiencing the outdoors on a regular basis leads to appreciation of the natural world and a desire to protect it.

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DC Children's Recreation Examiner Daisy Whittemore is a mom of three in the Washington, DC area.

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