How can I encourage my son to play outside and enjoy nature?

To take advantage of your son’s natural curiosity, provide him with plenty of opportunities to explore nature using all of his senses. For example, go for a nature walk and let him have fun navigating his way through rocks, mud, snow, tree branches, and roots. You can also give your child a bucket to collect leaves, acorns, pinecones, or any other “treasure” he finds. Create a scavenger hunt that includes different sounds, animals, plants, and trees, and work together as a family to find all of the items on your list. If you are not able to venture that far from your home, there are many fun things you can do in your own backyard. Give your child a plastic shovel, and let him dig for worms in your garden. Another fun idea is to simply get out some chalk and let him paint rocks, the pavement, or even the fence. It might get messy, but that’s part of the fun!

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.