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Connecting Kids with Nature: 006

Connecting Kids with Nature Takes a Concerted Effort These Days.

A steward and guide to nature who can help make the connection between kids and nature are needed than ever these days. If you don’t have such a person in your area, our local Naturalist, Larry Wade, has created a wonderful guidebook for elementary aged students (and I must attest, as a big kid I enjoyed it very much too!) to connect with nature. Parents, teachers, fellow guides for the next generation… this is a wonderful tool!


The making of a Naturalist

Larry Wade is a Naturalist in the Minneapolis area and has taught for many years at local parks and in school programs.

In the beginning of our talk Larry described how he grew up in a rural area of Southern California in the 1950’s. Nature was his playground since, in those days, there was not much else to occupy a child. During his middle and high school years Larry admits he grew away from nature, but when it came time to go to college he found himself back at nature’s doorstep.

At around age 30 he found himself at a cross-roads; his marine biology career was taking off, but he knew this would conflict with raising a family. So, he made the decision to leave the marine biology, start a family, and moved to Minnesota.


Connecting Kids with Nature:006


Outdoor Activities for Autumn

Larry describes an activity he does with 2nd and 3rd grade students during the fall (which is also clearly outlined in his workbook) called “Grasshopper Studies”.

He describes how this activity helps kids learn a number of things from grasshopper species diversity, grasshopper care and even empathy for such critters. The grasshoppers are collected and released within a week’s time.


“Writing creates empathy.” – Larry Wade, The Old Naturalist  

(See “My Life as an Oak” exercise in the Nature Seeker Workbook)

More Nature Activity Ideas for Kids

Animal homes activity gets kids out on a full-day event to identify…. that’s right… animal homes! Exercises include a nature hike (which doubles as Physical Education activity), a pond study, tree aging identification (math activity) and an art activity using the pigments found in nature. Larry says that the kids (and he) are so full of the expansiveness of nature at the end of the day that the school walls can barely contain the group upon their return.

Whale Day is a special day dedicated to Larry’s early passion of marine life. It includes art activities with his friend and workbook illustrator Jeannette Dickinson (and Amelia Ladd), his shell lab activities and respectful squid dissection.

The workbook is full of many other activities all centered around helping children learn about nature…

Many exercises involve other learning skills such as math, writing and more. There are activities for each season. Even if you do not live in the Upper Midwest region where much of the exercise are geared towards, this workbook can be an excellent guide to adapt the lessons for your region.

Other topics covered:

Larry’s adventures in snorkeling in local Minnehaha Creek – and his encounter with a Pike and a four-foot Muskie – it’s quite a “Fish Story”!

Hear him recount poetic experiences snorkeling among lily pads.

Kids are not the only ones affected by nature. Larry has also taken senior groups with Alzheimers Disease  into nature, he says, “You can feel their hearts remembering!”

“It’s about connection.” – Larry Wade, The Old Naturalist



In closing I ask guests to share 2 things that can help listeners improve their health with their subject material.

Larry and I agreed that connecting with nature plays a vital role in helping us improve our health. He suggests:

  • When you are out walking your dog (if you have one, of course!), Take time to be present. Don’t bring the phone, don’t think about work. Try to listen – with your whole body. Listen to the trees. Slow down.
  • For the kids, it depends on what age they are… Go to a park and let them run through the forrest- that’s great exercise! Then guide them, even if it’s just for ten minutes, to take some quiet time to draw or say, “Let’s try to write some poetry.” Of course, this all depends on the age of the child.



Other Links and Resources

If any part of this material interests you I highly recommend you check out Larry’s website. There he posts about his adventures underwater, recent activities he’s done with kids and some truly special audio clips of animal and nature sounds!

Larry’s website – The Old Naturalist: A voice for the earth- honoring life and seeking beauty

You can find his Nature Seeker Workbook here and at Amazon.com

Finding Balance in Nature – A gift from Larry… a PDF of great ideas!

About Larry

My name is Larry Wade, and I’ve had a passionate affair with the Planet Earth for most of my life. I have a deep and abiding respect for this amazing rock-and-water covered sphere where life expresses itself in millions of different forms, and in a set of interconnected systems.

I also have deep concerns about how we are treating our home. We have a lot of work to do to preserve the beauty and and living things on our planet.

One of the reasons why I continue this blog is my desire to help readers develop a relationship with the Earth. My personal mission can be summed up:


A Voice for the Earth.
Honoring Life and Seeking Beauty
Connecting, Learning, Healing
Earth First.

It’s my hope that you’ll find something in here–words, pictures, activities, poetry, something–that will stir something deep inside you and make you want to get outside. Take a walk. Look up. Look down. Listen. Close your eyes. Get dirty. Get wet. Re-introduce yourself to this amazing place we too often take for granted. Fall in love with Nature. Pass that love along to someone else–especially a child.

And let me know what you find.

Larry Wade
The Old Naturalist



Connecting Kids with Nature - Larry Wade - The Old Naturalist