Sensory outings don’t have to be elaborate – Mother Nature often supplies the perfect natural sensory experiences. You just have to get a little creative in how you look at the environment around you.
Our favorite sensory outing is a rock beach. We live right near Lake Michigan. In fact, one of our favorite things to do when the weather is nice is walk through our neighborhood’s nature preserve and spend time at the rock beach along the shore.
My boys think of it as a great place to explore and get some quality one on one time with the parents. Little do they know it’s a smorgasbord of sensory input.
Finding Natural Sensory Experiences in Mother Nature
Let’s talk about the main senses and how we use them at the rock beach to give you some ideas on how you can use Mother Nature in your own sensory outings. And be sure to download my FREE Nature Scavenger Hunt Printables.
Ask your child — Can you find two rocks that look alike? Can you find two completely different rocks? Can you describe to me what a wave looks like? What colors does the water have in it today?
Pick up a rock and ask your child if they can spot another one like it.
Ask your child — What do our footsteps sound like when we walk on the rocks? Does it sound differently when we walk on the sand? What do the waves sound like? Do you hear any animals nearby? Can you hear the wind today?
Ask your child — What does the air smell like today? Does it smell like rain is coming? (And what does it mean for the air to smell like rain?) What do the plants smell like?
Ask your child — How do the different rocks feel like? Can you sort the rocks by texture? Smooth, Rough, Sharp, etc. Do the rocks feel different after they get wet?
If you think you aren’t going to get in some serious gross motor action at a rock beach, you are sadly mistaken! Boys were born to throw rocks… and then throw some more rocks… and then throw some more rocks. Whew!
Building Block Activities
Don’t forget about all of the other building block bonus activities the kids get. From honing their observation skills to working on their descriptive language abilities, kids are getting a full classroom in a fun outing with mom or dad.
Introductory Earth Science
If you want to take it a step further, bring some earth science to the table. Talk about how the different rocks were formed. Ask them if they have ideas. Discuss why some rocks are smooth. Did the water do that over time?
We actually found a piece of driftwood. My youngest son loved throwing it into the surf, only to have it returned minutes later. It was the perfect excuse to talk about how waves and currents work, moving objects across oceans. We also talked about the tides and how the moon affects low and hide tide.
We also found feathers and talked about what kind of birds might have dropped them. And, to our delight, we also found a lady bug sunning herself on a rock.
We found a discarded Coke can lying on the beach. My boys have always been hyper aware when someone leaves trash behind. We discussed why someone would dump a piece of trash… Were they not paying attention and accidentally left it behind? Did it blow away and wash up on shore? Or did someone just not clean up after themselves because they don’t understand what it does to our earth?
We also talked about the sea glass we collected. While it’s beautiful, for sure, it’s also a sign that people dumped trash where it got into our water systems and was smoothed by the ocean over many years.
Mother Nature hosts a plethora of natural sensory experiences… you just have to get a little creative in how you look at the environment around you.
What your favorite natural sensory outlet in Mother Nature for the kids?
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This post is part of the A-Z of Outdoor Activities Series on Crafty Kids at Home!