Patapsco Valley State Park
More importantly though, nature walks are a fantastic sensory experience for young children. Exploring in nature is so important for cognitive, social, and even emotional development. That makes sense, right? I mean, as an adult I always feel so peaceful, so refreshed, when I go on a hike or spend time in nature. For our kids, the benefits are even greater!
There were so many fun things to explore on our short nature walk. Sweet Pea loved walking across the Swinging Bridge (which is located in the Avalon area of the park) and then we meandered down the walking/bike path for about 1/2 mile out and 1/2 mile back. That was the perfect distance for her 2-year old legs. She didn’t even ask to be picked up until we were almost at the end of the entire walk! We threw rocks into the river, traversed trees that had fallen down, climbed over boulders, stomped in puddles, picked out big walking sticks, and listened for birds. I brought along a basket so that Sweet Pea could collect treasures along the way- leaves, rocks, ferns, pieces of bark, sticks. It was really neat to see what she picked out versus the items she was not interested in.
Fall Sensory Bin
Using the spoils from our morning nature walk, it took literally 2 minutes to create a great Fall Sensory Bin for Sweet Pea to play with.
Instructions for creating Fall Sensory Bin:
– Find a decent-sized plastic bin. I didn’t use anything too large, just a drawer from an IKEA storage unit.
– Fill it with about 3 bags of popcorn kernels.
– Add the items collected in the nature walk. Alternatively, just use items from your own backyard.. less leaves to collect!
– Add a few spoons, cups, and measuring utensils to the bin.
Voila! It is as easy as that!
You will certainly want to ensure that the bin is in an area that is easy to clean (we set ours up in the kitchen) and the bin requires some sort of adult supervision. However, this activity kept Sweet Pea occupied for almost an hour. As long as you have an ‘out of the way’ place to store the fall sensory bin, there is no reason this activity can’t provide sensory enjoyment for your toddler throughout the season!
Anyhow, we had a blast exploring the forest before it goes to sleep for the Winter. The fact that Grandma was able to join us was icing on the cake!
What fun fall nature activities do you do with your kids?
Thanks for reading!