Family Activities to Make the Most of Nature Experiences

by October 5, 2020

by Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, Alliance for a Healthier Generation


Spending time in nature benefits our physical health and can help us connect with each other by fostering cooperation and providing moments of self-reflection. Did you know there are a lot of fun ways to inspire curiosity in nature while indoors? Below are a few simple ideas to help you plan and make the most of nature experiences.


Pre-Trek Activities 

  • Activity 1: Determine if it is time to head outside.
    Stay in tune with how your family members are feeling with this simple emoji feeling chart. When the frowns start to outnumber the smiles, you'll know it's time to find an adventure and hit the trail.
    Resource: Feelings Chart 
  • Activity 2: Conduct a family check-In
    Before heading outside, circle up as a family and brainstorm your shared commitments to each other and the environment. Here are two reflection questions to try:
    - Can we all agree to go on a screen-free walk? Minus a family photoshoot, of course!
    - Can we all agree to follow “leave no trace” principles?
    Resource: Family Agreements 
  • Activity 3: Plan an adventure
    Make the most of your outdoor experience by creating an outdoor adventure-themed vision board, complete with goals for your trek, things you want to find, and even the tasty trail snack you will pack.
    Resource: Family Vision Board 


Trekking Activities

  • Activity 1: Have a family photoshoot
    While exploring, take a break for a family photoshoot. Once back indoors, you can use your photos to make a collage for a friend or family member or display them in your own home.
  • Activity 2: Create artwork
    Have a screen-free afternoon by painting or drawing what you saw while outdoors – maybe a favorite tree changing colors, an inspiring cloud formation, or interesting mushrooms. Consider crafting your art project outdoors using natural elements, such as bark for rubbings.  Remember to share your finished project with others! 


Reflection Activities

  • Activity 1: Do a show and tell reflection
    While outdoors, use your DIY nature journal to record items and moments that are meaningful to you. It could be any of the 5 senses or an object – rather than picking it up, draw a quick sketch. Once your squad returns home, write about why it was meaningful to you. Take turns sharing, preferably over a healthy snack like cauliflower popcorn!
  • Activity 2: Read aloud as a family
    Reflect on your adventure as you wind down, under a favorite tree or back home before bedtime, with a nature-inspired book together as a family. One we like is Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. After reading, discuss the story and what else you'd like to explore together. 
    Resource: 20 Family Bonding Activities


For more family-friendly resources, visit to discover Healthier Generation's latest tips for eating well, moving more, and feeling your best.