The following is an excerpt from ‘How to Raise Outdoor Kids’ by Australian author, Linda Drummond and published by Australian Geographic.

Getting to know your neighbourhood really lets you understand more about this beautiful country in which we live. And getting outdoors has so many benefits for our health and wellbeing.

You don’t need to go far to discover something new. One of the simplest things you can do is go on an adventure and discover treasure that’s hiding outdoors. No matter where you live, you’ll find something surprising in your backyard or local park.

“One of the simplest things you can do is go on an adventure and discover treasure that’s hiding outdoors”.

Kim Moroney is a former school principal and is now an education officer in early years curriculum for the Sydney Catholic Schools in New South Wales. She’s currently researching the impact of outdoor spaces on children and how we can encourage our kids to just get outside and play.

“There’s so much research on how the outdoors benefits our brains; we all have feel-good hormones that are activated by the sun and being outdoors,” Kim says. “Sometimes being outside helps us with different perspectives and takes our brain to a different place where there’s a kind of calmness that allows ideas to be born.”

No matter where you live, nature exists too. Ryan Keith has dedicated his PhD in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney to exploring kids’ connection with nature, even in built-up areas like Sydney.

“Urban kids can connect meaningfully with nature by paying explicit attention to the animals and plants living around them,” says Ryan. “Though many people think of cities as places devoid of nature, cities actually host diverse ecological communities, including urban wildlife species that are accessible to almost every city kid with observational skills.”

Are you ready to discover?

Linda Drummond, author of How to Raise Outdoor Kids is a nationally-published science journalist specialising in health, science, family, lifestyle and wellbeing articles.

What’s in your ‘hood?

  • Pack a backpack with the following:
  • A magnifying glass
  • A sketchbook and pencil
  • A notepad and pen
  • A camera – ideally ones with a zoom lens.
  • Water bottle and sunscreen (don’t forget a hat!)

Here’s a list of some of the intriguing items you could discover:

  • A creature with six or more legs
  • Something fuzzy or furry
  • A beautiful rock
  • Something with wings
  • Seeds or seed pods
  • An object with a hole in it
  • A plant or insect in your favourite colour
  • Poop!
  • Your favourite thing
  • Something surprising
  • An item that’s smaller than your pinky finger
  • Something spiky
  • Something noisy

Once you get home, it’s time to find out more about what you discovered during your outdoor adventure. Start by asking your family and neighbours or visit your local library and ask the librarian for help.

“Urban kids can connect meaningfully with nature by paying explicit attention to the animals and plants living around them,”

How are you going to record what you’ve seen?

There’s plenty of options to choose from, depending on your preference.

You could get a special journal to either write down what you’ve seen, or you can print out and paste in the photos you took.

You could record everything on a smartphone and make your own podcast or video!

Maybe you could draw what you saw and colour in your drawing, trying to match the colours as best as you can.

Or how about create a nature table?

Visit www.australiangeographic.com.au to learn more about How to Raise Outdoor Kids and purchase a book.