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14 Easy Ways To Raise Kids Who Love Being Outside

Tips and tricks for fostering a love of plants, fresh air, and the planet.

1. Get your kids to help you plant seed starters, then watch them sprout and grow together.

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Children love to watch things grow and get their hands dirty, so this is a truly perfect activity to introduce them to gardening. For a bonus lesson in sustainability, use an eco-friendly seed starter like an egg shell or citrus rind.

2. Teach them to identify trees, plants, and flowers that grow in your neighborhood, so you can both spot them out while walking.

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Even something as simple as knowing the name of a daffodil or their favorite tree in the park will help connect kids to the nature that surrounds them.

3. Remember that you are your child's most important teacher and mentor, even when it comes to nature.

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If you want your kid to fall in love with nature, you have to show a love for it yourself. By showing children that you have fun outside, have an interest in plants, and look forward to the time you get to spend outdoors, they're more likely to follow suit.

4. Don't be afraid to spend an afternoon simply wandering.

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"In our overly scheduled world, with time seemingly in short supply, the notion of aimless wandering may seem frivolous, even a little wacky. But the beauty of the wander is in its lack of goals. Just being out on the land with open awareness fosters connection in ways otherwise impossible," writes Scott D. Sampson in his book, How To Raise A Wild Child.

5. Keep an eye out for animal tracks and feathers on walks and hikes.

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Kids love feathers and footprints, so finding and following either is a great way to remind them of all the birds and animals that live in the wilderness. This is a great practice that encourages them to really look at their surrounds and notice all the tiny signs of life.

6. And try bird watching in your backyard or local park.

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Count how many birds of a certain species you spot in half an hour, or get everyone in the family to draw a picture of the first bird they see.

7. Encourage kids to eat, read, and do their homework outdoors when possible.

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If you have the space, an outdoor table with room for activities and meals is a great way to get kids out in the fresh air. If you don't have the space, shady areas in quiet parks can make excellent reading and board game spots.

8. If your kid loves any excuse to borrow your phone, encourage them to take nature photos on your outings.

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Ask them to take pictures of different things they see, then get them to tell you about their favorite photos when you're back at home.

9. And always encourage kids to talk about what they've noticed outdoors.

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Making an effort to ask questions like, "Did you see any flowers today? What did they look like? Did you smell one? What shape were the petals?" not only starts a conversation, but shows that nature and the wonderful things within it are worth paying attention to and talking about.

10. Incorporate objects you and your kids find together into your art and craft projects.

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"Dirt, sticks, rocks, feathers, pinecones, flowers — all are terrific artistic elements. One favorite subject of smaller children is fairy houses, or even mini-villages, made from small sticks and plant matter. This kind of art fuels imaginations and stories," writes Sampson.

11. Grow things your kids can nurture, pick, and then taste like herbs or tomatoes.

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Even if you're tight on space, the tiniest windowsill herb garden can teach big lessons about the way we grow and harvest food.

12. Or organize a visit to a local farm in your area.

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"Once you've visited a local farm, regularly bring home food produced there and remind kids where that food comes from. The memory of their visit will change the way they think about food," writes Sampson. You can find organic farms that welcome visitors at LocalHarvest.

13. Read books that are set in nature to your kids or make up your own stories to tell them.

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If you're making up your own stories, set them in parks, forests, or beaches you've visited and include bird and animals friends that are native to those areas.

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14. And start a nature club with other families you know, so your outdoor adventures can be something your child shares with friends.

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"The premise is simple. Get two or more families outdoors together on a regular basis — say, once a month. Let the kids run around and play, while the adults enjoy food, drink, and each other, talking adult stuff." If you don't have any friends that fit the bill, Children & Nature Network connects families to form their own nature clubs.

Check out more Gardening Week posts for tips, tricks, and inspo.