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Diversify Your Kids Pet Choices by Teaching Them About Wildlife
It is important for children to have respect for nature early on. This will determine how they view the world around them and how they treat the environment for years to come. In this day and age of the climate crisis, it is more crucial than ever to ensure that the next generation will be responsible stewards. Not to mention that playing outside is fun and healthy for growing youngsters and they can gain a lot of valuable skills from doing so.
A classic outdoor bonding activity, fishing has been the go-to for parents and children worldwide. It is a wonderful, quiet way to enjoy the countryside, in addition to teaching kids valuable skills like concentration and patience. You can teach them some basic fish identification skills, lake or stream ecology and fish behavior. If you are catching fish to eat, this is also a good opportunity to have an important conversation about where food comes from. Plus, fishing is usually accompanied by hiking and boating, two fun skill-building activities in their own right. You might want to invest in some appropriate gear, like kids waders and fishing poles, to get them extra excited about this type of outing.
If you would rather get your kids moving a bit more, you can always set them to catch frogs and toads. It’s usually best to undertake this endeavor after a fresh rain because that’s when amphibians like to come out. Be prepared for your little ones to get messy. Make sure that they know how to handle these critters gently and with care, so that the frogs don’t get hurt or squished. This is a great hands-on way to teach your kids about what amphibians are and how they live, in a way that helps them feel connected to the subject. The life cycle of a frog is particularly interesting to explain. Don’t forget to demonstrate some frog hops so that your kids can have fun practicing the leaps themselves.
Bird watching requires a certain level of focus and the ability to handle binoculars, so this may be best for slightly older children. This is an outdoor activity that can be done anywhere because birds are everywhere, even on city streets. However, it is always a good excuse to head into the wilderness. This pastime may be especially beneficial for anxious children as it teaches mindfulness, as well as a love of viewing nature as it is. Learning to identify birds is a practice in critical thinking and using multiple angles- you can determine what species of bird you are looking at by what they look like, where they are located geographically, how they are behaving or what their call sounds like. Watch your kids get excited about collecting bird species for their lists instead of the latest toys or tech.
It is best to confront a fear of bugs early on in a child’s life. If they can learn to appreciate a spider, they will probably be able to appreciate anything. There are many different ways you can interact with insects in a pleasant and memorable way. On a warm summer night, you can go out and catch fireflies. Remember to let them go before they die. Talk about how their light is actually a form of communication. You can look for cocoons under leaves and track their progress as they mature into beautiful butterflies. You can also collect ladybugs to deposit in your garden, if you have one, to defend the produce from aphids. You can find a spider’s web and task your kid with trying to draw or create a web to demonstrate how complicated it is. Starting an ant farm is a great way to show-off the spectacular underground homes of ants. There are as many possibilities as there are bugs.
There are myriad ways to responsibly interact with wildlife in the context of family fun. You will probably enjoy these trips just as much as your kids. Start planning your weekends accordingly!
Mikkie Mills, is a freelance writer who often writes about family, home improvements and the occasional DIY project.
PGAA NOTE: When handling plants and creatures in nature it is wise to know what is safe and what isn’t. Do a Google search for information on what you may encounter.