Your children are naturally enchanted by all the presents nature gives them. A flower, a shining stone, a pine cone… will make them happy. Their sensitivity turns them into spontaneous little ecologists. Sometimes, their behaviour is neither appropriate nor respectful. How can we make them aware of nature’s needs and make them feel responsible for it?
1. Introduce your children to forest animals and teach them to respect their habitat.
In the Ardennes region, many animal parks are accessible all year round to young tourists: Forestia, the Animal Park of La Roche-en-Ardenne, the Animal Park of Rochehaut… Getting to know the forest animals and creating a bond with them will help your children care for their habitat during your next walk. During your walk, show your children anthills, bird nests, beehives, etc. You can also take part in guided walks to discover the beavers and their habitat.
2. Take part with your children in international and national waste collection days!
In several countries, numerous citizen initiatives are organised to clean up the nature of all our waste. Register with your children for the Walloon spring cleaning organized in March or for the World Clean Up Day in September. Gather your friends and family for a special walk. Bring gloves, garbage bags and go hunting for garbage. As you walk, explain to your children why you collect this garbage and why it is important to care for nature. Find a short route with a real “waste potential” for good results. Remember that the pace of the walkers will be much slower. Celebrate your harvest with a 100% homemade snack at the end of the walk!
3. Turn your children into little reporter-explorers and preserve the fauna and flora together.
Let your children use your small digital camera. Yes, the one you used to take pictures with before you got a smartphone and which now lies around in the back of a drawer? Ask them to take pictures of flowers, insects and other garden or forest animals. Taking pictures is an excellent way to enhance their observation skills and to show them how responsible they are for the world lying under their feet. It is a good opportunity to face the frightening “ugly” and the “strange”. If you take pictures, there is then no need to cut flowers, lock butterflies in a jar or crush sowbugs…
4. Plan a zero waste walk.
A good walk always comes with a good picnic. Even if it only lasts one hour, the snack break is essential. Before going for a walk with your children, ask them to prepare snacks without disposable packaging. Make pastries and homemade cookies; wash, peel and pre-cut fruit like apples, strawberries, oranges, carrots, cherry tomatoes… Take flasks with flavoured water, iced tea or hot cocoa if the weather is cold. And always take a bag that will allow you to collect garbage left on the way.
5. Take part in Nature Days organised in nature reserves
The High Fens nature reserve, the Attert Valley Nature Park, the Burdinale Mehaigne Nature Park… the Ardennes region has many protected areas. Each year, nature awareness days are organised with workshops or guided walks in several languages. Feel free to subscribe to their newsletter, follow them on Facebook or check their website to prepare your stay in the Ardennes.
6. Feel nature with all your senses
Have you ever heard of barefoot walks? These are walk trails that you cover barefoot through rocks, mud, wood, sand… a perfect way to explore nature in an original way. If you are on holiday in the Ardennes, go to Gouvy in order to experience a 3km barefoot trail at the “Ferme de la Planche”.
Exploring nature barefoot is a wonderful activity for children (and adults too!). If your family would like to experience this but you are far from Gouvy, you may:
- Ask your children on a rainy day to walk barefoot along a walking trail near the holiday home.
- Let your children walk in some sections of the Ninglinspo River, right in in the streambed. The water actually polished the stone, which makes it easy to walk barefoot in the river.
- Allow your children to take off their shoes for some sections of the walk. Take the following items with you: water, towel, spare clothes in case of unexpected slipping.
Experiencing nature is the first step to learning to respect it. Facing your fears, being filled with wonder, touching, smelling and getting dirty are experiences that will allow your children to develop a close relationship with nature and make them want to come back some day !
Share with us the Nature experiences you have lived with your children during your holidays in the Ardennes. This will inspire all mothers and fathers who wish to reconnect their children with their environment!