In a Rut? Take the Kids For a Morning Nature Walk!

Do you and your kids get grumpy and bored after breakfast? or any other time of day? Take your kids on a morning nature walk! Our morning walks are fun, educational, create memories...and, somehow, they put us all in a brighter mood!

Guest Post by Jessica of Smartter Each Day

Recently, I lamented to my mom how stressful our mornings had been. We’d finish breakfast, and somehow that would cue the grumpiness and bored whining.

When my mom suggested a morning nature walk, I was doubtful that would solve all our problems. But of course, moms usually know best! Our morning walks are fun, educational, create memories…and, somehow, they put us all in a brighter mood!

Here’s what we do:

Eat breakfast. Clean up. Then go!

The longer you wait after breakfast, the more likely you’ll skip it. So go soon! But if you’re like me, coming home to a messy house is a recipe for one grumpy mama. I try to do a quick cleanup after breakfast, while the kids play with their simple, frugal activity bins at the table. Then we’re out the door!

taking a morning nature walk e 1372131976804

If your little one can walk, let him walk.

Oh, I hear those objections. (I had them, too.) He’ll get tired! He’ll never stay on the sidewalk! He likes the stroller! Turns out, my strong-willed two year old did just fine with a little freedom. We have our moments, but it’s worth it for how happy he is to explore and move.

Keep the phone at home.

Especially if you are like me, and you’re addicted to technology, leave that phone at home. Lock it up! I worried at first: What if so-and-so calls? What if the boys do something adorable, and there is no record of it on film? I’ve found I’m grateful for the free and unhindered time with my kids.

Enjoy nature…and other things.

I always like to have a plan, so on our first walk, I was set to classify leaves, identify bird calls, and collect flower petals…But alas, the boys spent half of the time absorbed in the sewage drains. At first it felt like a failure of a nature walk, but now I roll with it. I point out the natural things I notice, but I also enjoy my kids when I can.

exploring e 1372132075217

Go slowly, and use all the senses.

This will probably come easily…for them. For me, I have realized how needlessly I rush my little ones, and how apt I am to miss out on small treasures. I find I must try very hard to go at their pace, and not rush ahead. But what a blessing when I relax and enjoy!

We do not live in a “rural area” by any means, but you wouldn’t believe how many amazing things we’ve noticed on our walks! Slithering snails, snake skins, hooting owls, fuzzy caterpillars, brilliant butterflies, ant colonies, robins’ eggs, crusty cocoons…God’s world is just fascinating if you slow down enough to notice it!

Keep it a positive time.

The point of this time isn’t to fix character issues or have long discussions about someone’s behavior. This time is for enjoyment, and to be learners together. I try to ignore as many behavioral issues as I can (while keeping everyone alive).

treasures e 1372132362928

Collect treasures, and keep them for a project at home.

While on the walk, we collect things in a vinyl bag, but a bucket, tray, net – almost anything will work. Unfortunately, we haven’t mastered the art of getting everything home without breaking someone’s favorite stick or smashing some of the flowers.

Once home, though, there are many projects you can do with your nature collections. (See my Pinterest board on Outdoor Fun for ideas.) Don’t feel you have to do the most complicated projects. We love simply gluing the day’s treasures to some paper and labeling them!

When you’re home, take a break and eat a snack.

My boys love a refreshing smoothie after the walk (ours is dairy-free). I’ve found that I can’t rush my kids into another activity right away, as they’ve been stimulated and exercised, so we take a little break.

Have you ever tried a morning nature walk with your kids? What do you do during or after to make it a special time?

Similar Posts


  1. Loved your article, since it was so close to home! I too have been taking walks every morning since I can remember! I have two boys also–ages 2 1/2 (going on 20 😉 ) and 3 months. It is as much for my sanity as anything else, but I have realized over the course of the last year, how much my older son has been learning from the great outdoors! He has already memorized quite a few types of trees, and he LOVES watching the trucks down on the busier state highway near our house. We live in a pretty rural area, so we have been many kinds of animals, trees, rocks, reptiles, insects and the like. I totally think that giving our young children freedom (within limits of course) outside is very important to their development and education! Thank you for the enjoyable read!

  2. Wonderful post! I liked it because I can relate with the frequency of taking my children on walks! My kiddos are 9, 7 and 7 and love the nature walks we go on so they can “explore”!

  3. I do the same thing, and for the same reason! My little guy is definitely grumpy right after breakfast, so we go outside and check the garden, sit on the four-wheeler, and take a walk. He’s gotten the hang of holding my hand (we don’t have sidewalks) and loves to point out birds, all the mailboxes, all the trucks, and the neighbor’s windchime that’s made of colored balls. When we get back in, it’s almost lunchtime, and he’s ready for it! It’s so good for me to be out in the fresh air too. 🙂 When he’s a little older, I definitely want to try collecting some things too (besides the rocks that he gets right now…) like you said. Thanks!

  4. What a wonderful post! It’s winter here so a walk after breakfast may be a bit chilly (although it’s not like it snows here!), but I’d love to do this with my two year old. He’d love it and I need to learn to be without the phone and always connected too.
    Thanks for being inspiring 🙂

  5. Yay for nature walks! We often do these for the same reason (and sometimes we’ll have emergency walks in the evening too just so *mom* can make it through ’til bedtime; though now we usually just go outside and play hide and seek while I count to, say, 100–slowly–while finishing up dishes). Depending on the day, we’ll do some attention focusing activities (e.g., ‘sight seeing’ or ‘picture painting’ a la Charlotte Mason.) I’ll occasionally also have them note the position of the sun, wind, neighborhood boundaries, etc. just to make them more aware of their surroundings (geography 101). My oldest (6) also likes to stalk birds but with two loud siblings tagging along it is rare that any real “stalking” occurs.
    We often times will collect things too (a good time to explain to the littles not to pick the neighbor’s prize roses) and then put them in a tray that we use to display them on the table so that they can look at their collection, while still keeping it contained and hopefully away from toddler’s hands. Depending on the day, they’ll draw what they’ve found or verbally describe it to me while I write it in the nature notebook. We’ve also done a haphazard job of having a calendar of firsts. I’m hoping as they get a bit older they’ll start taking notice of some old “friends” (i.e., trees, birds, flowers, etc.) in the neighborhood and see how things change with the seasons. We’ve also recently started pressing flowers and leaves and I plan on having the kids make their own flower books to put them in (we’ll see if that happens!)
    Gordon Morrison writes a book called “Nature in the Neighborhood” which is a good read for elementary children. So, obviously, a big fan of nature walks. You have re-motivated me to make them a more fixed part of our summer!

    1. You have so many awesome ideas, Kelly! And, ha! Isn’t it the truth we’re often the ones who need to survive til bedtime? Thanks for the suggestions…I’d love to get my hands on that book!

  6. Jess- this is such a great idea! I think James and I will start now. And maybe we can all go when you come visit!

  7. This is great and I will be doing it soon! I am going to find a small empty box to store our finds in… That way they won’t get smushed:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *