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How to teach your city kid about nature

If you thought living in the concrete jungle meant denying your kids a childhood full of greenery, it's time to think again.

Simple teaching moments are all around. Credit: Colourbox Simple teaching moments are all around.
Credit: Colourbox

If you didn't grow up in the city, chances are some of your favorite childhood memories are of camping trips and running around barefoot through the grass. While the city is rich in culture and activities, you may think it's lacking in nature. But Sarah Schmidt, who is a digital and print media editor for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden ensures that there are plenty of ways to teach your children about wildlife without having to go on a country vacation.

"People think of cities as void of nature, but we actually have some of the best large parks in the country," she says. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden just released a book called, "The Kid's Guide To Exploring Nature," with the aim of helping kids and parents discover animals and plantlife together. Inside are activity ideas to do once you get to a park, like what to look for on a scavenger hunt.


"We encourage parents to find ways to really interact with nature with their kids and take a close look at different things," she says. "It encourages kids to engage at a different level and gives them an entirely new experience." One thing Schmidt says to keep in mind is going to the park with specific activities in mind. She's found that kids love collecting things, so it could be searching for different kinds of leaves or feathers.

There are some things you see every day that can actually present a teaching-about-nature moment. "There are actually six different types of pigeons and they all have different feather patterns," Schmidt says, recalling one of her favorite chapters in "The Kid's Guide To Exploring Nature." "They have different feeding behaviors that you can observe; it's not just a feeding frenzy!" Pointing these little moments out to you child may spark a deeper curiosity in animals and science.

The change of each season also naturally sparks conversations about nature. Taking a walk through the park in a few weeks will be a very different experience than taking a walk through the park now. Having conversations about your kids about why and how the leaves change colors, or explaining why a squirrel is burying acorns for winter are small teaching moments that can have a lasting impact.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

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