Our kids and grandkids will inherit the Earth God created for humankind to enjoy. How many of us take the time to see the natural beauty He made? And if we don’t see it ourselves, how can we share it with the little ones in our life, helping them to appreciate and treat it with reverence?
Get past city parks with manicured lawns and perfectly weeded flowerbeds filled with evenly spaced mono-colored petunias. Nature is largely invisible unless we choose to open our eyes to it.
Here are some ways to encourage little ones to see and appreciate God’s wonderful gift.
Go for hikes/walks. Pop the baby or toddler into a carrier for a hike up a mountaintop or meander along a path at the pace of the child. Stop to admire everything they find.
Help nature. My daughter’s young family recently took part in Toadfest, an educational event to help youngsters understand the lifecycle of the tiny Western toad. Many of these dime-sized toads are smooshed by traffic on their migration route across a busy highway. Kids help capture toads near the lake and place them in buckets for safe transportation across the road, where they’re released to go on their merry way.
You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. Nehemiah 9:6
Observe natural life cycles. We have a species of sockeye salmon in Kootenay Lake that has been cut off from the ocean for decades due to the dams on the Columbia River system. They’re called kokanee, and at the end of August every year, they swim upstream to spawn. This year we camped nearby and took many walks along the boardwalk and bridges to observe. The little ones were fascinated by the bright red fishies with bright green heads. Do they understand what they saw? Not yet. But we’ll go again another year.
Pick up trash. Carry a trash bag when you’re out walking and let the little ones see you putting other people’s litter into it. If it’s safe to do so (i.e., not broken glass), let them help. Talk about how we’re helping keep God’s world clean and nice.
Listen to birdcalls and identify them. Don’t know what they are? Me, either, much of the time. But my 3.5-year-old granddaughter does because her daddy, an avid birder, takes her along and teaches her.
Take them camping away from the KOA and its swimming pools. Tent camp if you can and let them play with rocks and sticks. Let them wade in the creek. Yes, it is more work for the adults than staying home, but immersion in nature is the best way to appreciate it.
Admire the handiwork of spiders. Watch bees on a flower. Talk about where that bug is going in such a hurry. Lie on your backs in the grass and talk about the fluffy clouds—this one might not last long with busy toddlers! But every little bit helps.
Remind yourself—and them—that God made this beautiful place. If you are awed by nature and the imagination of our wonderful Creator showed in the diversity He made, the little people in your life will open their eyes to it as well.
How do you explore and observe nature with the little people in your life?