A few years ago when I was still living in Boulder, I spent a late summer and fall foraging the Rocky Mountains for medicinal plants. At the time I was making a lot of different herbal concoctions- mostly salves and scrubs and butters. I’ve always loved being outdoors in general, but foraging was a whole different experience than plain old hiking. It was like going on real-live treasure hunts everyday, and most days it was a struggle to make myself stop hunting for the next bush of ruby red rose hips.
That experience taught me something about humans and the outside world. We do well with a purpose. Not that a hike isn’t amazing by itself, but having things to hunt for turns a walk from A to B into an adventure that can last the whole day long without anyone getting bored. It’s the ultimate open-ended activity for everyone involved.
But what does this mean for those of us with babies still in our arms, like me now? It means taking them out on adventures with us, tucking them snuggly into a carrier on our backs. It means shorter durations in between naps. It means doing it for us just as much as for them, because we need the outdoors, too.
While R is too young right now to understand the logistics of what we’re doing, that is irrelevant. It’s still a wonderful sensory experience for her that I can enhance by dipping her feet into the shallow bank of a river, set her down in the middle of tall grass, pick up pinecones for her to hold, or let he feel the cool smoothness of river stones.
If your little ones are in the toddler stage or older, then you can make it a joint adventure. Choose what you’re going to search for and share it with them, and then make it a little more special by putting together backpacks with magnifying glasses, jars, butterfly nets, and cloth bags to hold berries. Little extras like this always make activities so much more special, don’t they?
This an especially good strategy if you have resistant kids. Just try it. Tell them you’re going to hunt for berries to make ink with, or for deer tracks, or to look for bones, and you’ll suddenly have excited and eager little ones on your hands.
Each one of these books provide unique outdoor adventures, and I love each one dearly. If you asked me to choose a favorite I couldn’t, they’re all that good. But I’d suggest to start with the one that stands out the most to you and see how you like the outdoor treasure hunt, and if you love it as much as I do, then branch out and get the others.
A very lovely little guide to foraging in the place where you are. You don’t have to eat what you find- if you’re not absolutely comfortable with plant identification, then just hunt and see what you find.
I adore Clare. Her whole life revolves around creating nature journals, and looking at hers is the ultimate inspiration to making your own. Another endless invitation to get and be outside.
Read: The Organic Artist
This book is probably the coolest book that I own, and I own a lot of cool books. With this book, you never have to buy art supplies ever again if you don’t want too. But even if you do, this book has a bunch of different supplies to search for and gather out in nature to make paper, paints…the title says it all. The author even hunts for bones to make paint jars out of! Get. This. Book.
An animal tracking book, and while you might not on the surface be interested in it, try and think of it as a kind of treasure hunt. Looking for animal signs, squirrel’s nests, scat, owl droppings…whatever it may be, there’s never an end to what you can find. Just another excuse to tromp out in the woods, with your baby in a carrier or your toddler by your side.
This is such a unique book. It will teach you how to look at a tree trunk and know which way the wind tends to blow. It will teach you how to navigate by patterns and signs in nature…I don’t know if there’s any other book like this. Tristan has put out a few other books, but I haven’t read them yet so I can’t give my personal recommendations on it. But this one here’s a gem.
Read: Take Along Guides
There are quite a few books in this series, and I love them all. Each one covers a different topic, ranging from leaves and trees, to insects and bugs, to birds and nests. These are essentials to add to your little one’s library.
Do you have any favorite outdoor books? Let me know what they are below :)