Children looking at a frog in a jar

Photo: © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation

4 of 5
Investigate Nature
Playing outdoors is critical to a child's development because all of his senses are engaged and he's making decisions based on using those senses, Katherine says. Also, cultivating an interest in trees and other plants, animals and natural phenomena is a great way to motivate kids to get outdoors.

Try these fun ways to connect with nature:

  • Take a nature walk. Start the walk around your neighborhood or at a local park and share stories about things you remember about nature from your childhood—blowing dandelion seeds, finding a bird's nest in a tree, collecting fall leaves and making a collage.
  • Start a collection. When you visit new places, gather interesting stones, pinecones and other loose natural objects. You can also take pictures of flowers or insects you find.
  • Plan a family hike. Make it a point to visit a natural area and take a family nature hike. Nothing can stimulate your senses like a walk through a forest, field, wetland or other natural area. The experience promotes healthy cognitive, physical, emotional and social behavior in your children.