On your next nature hike or walk, try picking a theme to focus on such as colors, shapes or sounds.

Here are some tips for fun ways to notice the many colors of nature!

  • If you have access to paint chips (local hardware store), you can look for single colors as well as various shades of one color. During springtime, you can find many shades of brown (i.e. dirt, mud or the bark of different kinds of trees) and green (i.e. grass, leaves, evergreens). Try to notice these subtle differences and match them as close as possible with a paint chip color.
  • As the weather warms, you can take your paints, markers, crayons, or colored pencils outside and try to create colors that match those you find in nature. Look for the blues and purples of violets and lilacs; the yellows of dandelions and buttercups; the many shades of green of all the different plants- the colors of nature are endless! You can even come up with fun new names for the colors you’ve created! Be creative, have fun, and let nature inspire!

You can also focus on different shapes found outside! You’ll find more than circles, squares & triangles.

  • Look for symmetry and patterns (like spirals and other fractals), and explore the Fibonacci sequence.
  • This activity can be easily modified for age and developmental appropriateness. Ask your child to draw some shapes or patterns, and then head outside to do some sleuthing as a nature detective! Leave some blank space to add shapes or patterns that you unintentionally stumble upon during your search, or take pictures as you go and try to replicate them later.
  • You can find more on symmetry here.

It might be hard at times to not notice the squawking crow in the tree just overhead, but you can also try to experience the more subtle sounds of nature.

  • Take a pause while walking or sit in your favorite outdoor spot. Take a moment to close your eyes and just listen… be as quiet as you can be. Do you hear the wind rustling through the trees? The birds returning from their winter vacations? A squirrel rustling through leaves nearby? Perhaps bugs whizzing by?
  • After observing some of the sounds of nature around you, have fun and try to imitate the sounds you hear!
  • You can also look for ways to make sounds with the nature around you. Try tapping a tree with a stick, or rubbing two rocks together. If you’re in a group, you can perform a nature symphony, or form a ‘rock’ band, by making musical instruments from natural objects.

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.