Hot Topics     Home and Family    

Take a walk on the wild side with your kids



Easy nature walk ideas

kids, nature, walk

The Hudson Valley offers an abundance of nature areas to explore from state parks, to municipal nature paths, and from neighborhood preserves to your own back yard. The walks can take an hour, up to three, depending on the age and interest of your child. But, rest assured, that despite any pushback from your kid, once they’re on the open road, their attention will turn to leaves, plants, flowers, butterflies, and any other surprise that comes their way.

Of course, a little preparation is good. We’ve listed some of the important things to consider that make your nature walk adventure very easy-peasy.

How to dress:
Make a note to check the day’s weather for any drops in temperature or pop-up storms.  Kids should be wearing close-toed shoes for sure, and a hat and sunglasses if it’s going to be particularly sunny.

Items to pack:
Each child should have a backpack to carry the treasures they find, a water bottle, hand wipes, and a few healthy snacks, like trail mix, or granola bars to keep up their energy. Just don’t over pack the bag which will make it difficult for them to carry. The adult in the group can take some of these items.

Store a small towel in the car in case your little one decides to jump in some puddles along the way.

Safety items:
A travel first-aid kit for sure. Before setting out, apply safe sunscreen to areas exposed to the sun, and a kid-friendly insect/tick repellent. 

READ MORE: Three books to encourage healthy outdoor play

Here are three great ideas for making the nature walk memorable and safe:

1. Invite your child to lead
If you let your child do the leading, you can keep an eye on them, while letting them decide when to stop, and when to walk on. Ask them questions about what they are looking at, and let them describe it to you, as you “pretend” to not know anything about it.

If you can, leave the stroller in the car and allow your toddler to walk on their own.  Let them explore their world, at their level, whether it be a pine cone or a leaf.  It may make for a slower walk, but a richer experience for your little one. 

2. Create a nature collection theme
Before starting out, decide on what you might want to look out for, maybe things that fell from the trees.  Or small interesting stones.  It will make it more enjoyable when your child finds something that belongs in the collection.  When they are brought home, it can be set out in the backyard as a reminder or on a window frame shelf.

3. Play the Quiet Game
The forest, or any nature area, will have new sounds for young ears.  It’s fun to stand quietly and listen to a hawk fly by, or listen to the buzzing of insects around a tree. It teaches “mindful listening,” which can become an enjoyable pastime for kids. It’s also a welcome break from the loud and fast paced world we all live in. Maybe bring a pad and pencil to note down the sounds that they identify.

Author MJ Hanley-Goff, parent and former activities director for a summer camp in Orange County.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • What to know about the future of cancer treatment

    New research is showing some promise

    For many patients, initial cancer treatments are not enough, and residual cancer cells that survive these treatments can cause relapse. But new research is seeking to harness the immune system to target residual disease, thereby helping patients avoid relapses and live longer. read more »
  • Add Mediterranean flair to your dinner table

    Explore other cultures and cuisines by experimenting in the kitchen

    During the past year, many people have missed the opportunity to travel and experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the world, but it’s easy to explore other cultures and cuisines by experimenting in the kitchen. read more »
  • 3 tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your dogs

    Pet parents want the best for their dogs and will go to great lengths to keep their furry friends healthy. read more »
  • What your feet can tell you about your health

    Understanding peripheral artery disease

    If you are living with pain and discomfort in your feet, legs, thighs or butt, it may be a sign of a serious health problem. Many adults in the United States are suffering and may be at risk of amputations of their toes, feet or legs as a result of an undetected disease known as peripheral artery disease (PAD). read more »
  • Pandemic make you more concerned about finances?

    You’re not alone

    The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted nearly every aspect of people’s lives and, as it turns out, it also impacted their feelings about financial security and life insurance. In a national survey commissioned by Erie Insurance: read more »
  • 3 tips for selecting the perfect home

    Ideas to keep in mind while you search

    For those beginning the process of home buying, there are many factors to consider. Keep these ideas in mind as you conduct your search – whether it’s online or at a series of open houses. read more »
  • Don’t let your child be a financial failure in 2023

    Nine signs your child needs to work on their money skills

    If you haven’t heard the famous stand-up comedy routine of Jeff Foxworthy, I would suggest taking a few minutes to pull some one-liners up on the Internet before reading the rest of this piece. Foxworthy has worked extremely hard over the years building a successful career by making jokes about real-life situations, as well as a particular class of people who might be “Rednecks”. read more »
  • DEC Spring Tree Seedling Sale 2023

    Check out free program available for youth groups

    Youth organizations, schools, and homeschool groups: Apply now for a package of free seedlings through the 2023 School Seeding Program. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the program closes on March 31 or seedling stock runs out, whichever comes first. read more »
  • Prioritize heart health with a balanced eating plan

    Try these recipes from the DASH diet

    No matter your motivations, it’s never too late or too early to start focusing on your heart health, and taking steps now can make a big difference. Small changes, like following a healthier eating plan, can help you start down a path toward improved heart health. read more »
  • A mission for nutrition

    Accomplish health goals with better-for-you family meals

    Setting out on a mission to eat healthier starts with creating goals and working to achieve them with those you love. To help make nutritious eating more manageable, call together your family and work with one another to create a menu everyone can enjoy while staying on track. read more »