3 Cool Ways to Explore Nature Together

 1.Nature Walk

No matter what the setting—urban, suburban, or rural—you can always find a bit of nature to enjoy. If you live close to your grandchild, take a walk—in the park or in your own backyard. Pick up a rock, a stick, a flower, a feather and. . . .


  1.  Hold the object in your hand or gently touch it.
  2.  Look at it carefully from all angles.
  3.  What do you observe? See if you can identify two aspects of the item that you might not have noticed in the past. For example, the colors in a rock or the layers of bark on a branch.
  4. What do you think about when you see or hold these items? Ask yourself or your grandchild, “I wonder. . . How did that rock get here.”
  5. Create your own special blessing around the object(s) you found.

If you and your grandchild do not live close to one another, ask your grandchild to look for something in nature that interests them and to share it with you via Zoom or Facetime—or the video platform you use. They can text you a picture or describe the object over the phone too. Make sure that you also have something from nature to share.  



2.Plant Identification

If your grandchild likes details and knowing all the facts, there are wonderful plant (and animal and bird) identification apps. Google Images can be really helpful too.

  1. Take a walk outside and find a tree, shrub, or flower. Take a picture of it with
    your phone and see if you can identify it using a plant identification app or Google Images.
  2. Learn its common and scientific names and any other interesting information about the plant.
  3.  Identify a few of the key characteristics of the plant (color, shape of leaves, smell, texture, etc.).
  4.  Each of you try to draw an illustration of the plant or find a fallen leaf for a rubbing. (To do a rubbing, place the item on a plain sheet of paper. Cover the item with another sheet of paper, and rub the long side of a piece of chalk or crayon over the paper. Lift the paper to see the impression you’ve made.)

Make nature walks with your grandchild a regular activity. Give your grandchild a sturdy notebook to record the details of what you see on your walks. Glue the rubbings into the notebook or start a special album for them.


3.Bugs Are Cool

Just as there are an abundance of blessings for food in Judaism, there are a multitude of blessings for nature’s radiance and power: blessings for fragrant plants, rainbows, and oceans, as well as blessings for thunder, lightning, and hurricanes. The Torah reminds us that bugs, like all creatures, deserve our care and attention. We try to be mindful of the mitzvah of bal tashchit, “do not destroy,” in our encounters with nature.

  1. Go on a bug walk. One of the best places to look for bugs is under rocks.
  2. Bring along a magnifying glass and a small sketch pad and pencil so you can see the bug close up and make a drawing.
  3.  See if you can find larvae as well as adult bugs.
  4. Look them up to see if they’re good bugs (beneficial to gardens, for example, worms) or bad (destructive, for example, aphids).

Photographic Credits
Banner photo by Stephanie Fink