Nature Walk: Bonding and Development

Toddler and mother crouched in front of body of water with binoculars and a net ready to explore!

December 15, 2021

Relationship-Building Nature Walk for Families

When parents are able to stop and see the world through their child’s eyes, amazing things happen. The adults slow down, the kids feel seen and like their voice is important, and parents and children build empathy and attachment.

We recently took families in our Healthy & Fair Start program on an organized nature walk. This is one of the opportunities for group connection, where families can interact with one another and their community. The nature walk was an easy activity that you can do with the children in your lives and it has amazing cognitive, developmental and relationship benefits—plus it’s fun!

Nature Walk Materials and How-To

The best part of this activity is that you really don’t need any materials—nature provides everything you need! We’ve put together a scavenger hunt page, that you can print out. Or just take a look at it before you head outside for ideas on what to look for.

Gather your supplies. You can make toilet paper roll binoculars or bring a small magnifying glass, small basket, or other things that will make the exploration more fun! Don’t forget to involve your child in the planning. Ask your child, "What do we need for our adventure?" They may want to bring a flashlight (even if it’s daytime), a pencil, crayons or notebook to write or draw what they see.

Check out our Texas Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet. If you print it, you can match the items with the photos or cross them out as you find them. If you don’t have a printer, you can just go out and explore, and bring home your treasures to compare with the scavenger hunt sheet.

Get outside! Follow your child's lead and go at their pace. Help them notice details by wondering out loud: “A pecan! Which tree could it have fallen from?” Write down what your children say about their discoveries. Encourage them to pretend: “This big stick is shaped like the letter Y. What do you think that one looks like?”

Ask questions that encourage them to use their senses:

  • What do you see up in the tree?
  • This rock is smooth but this one is rough.
  • Does this leaf smell like anything?
  • I can’t see wind, but I know it’s windy because the trees are moving
  • I hear a bird chirping… Do you hear it? Let’s be quiet and listen for it again.

Brain Benefits of a Nature Walk

Opportunities for parents and children to engage in nature has many benefits. By observing the environment with all their senses, children build new brain pathways! That brain development provides a strong foundation for life-long learning. You’re also working on a child’s motor skills, like running, balancing, climbing above and under things. And it is also an opportunity for language development by using "How?" and "Why?" questions to learn about things they find.

Through parent-child activities like the nature walk, the parent learns something new about their child’s cues and temperament, their interests and struggles. It’s important to pause and observe not only nature, but also your child. These small, meaningful interactions build a strong, nurturing relationship.

If you’re interested in improving your relationship with your children, our team can connect you with one of our trained parent educators. Send us a message or fill out a service request form.


Parent coaching and support, as well as group events to create a safe, stable and nurturing home for children to thrive.

This simple parent-child activity helps kids notice and copy patterns, and practice waiting their turn.

Any Baby Can empowers parents in their child’s growth and progress, promoting optimal early development.


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