Download info about the trails, flora, and fauna before your visit. You can print a Bayou City mini-magazines (free) here. Fold them into miniature field guides you can read at home and take with you when you visit our park. You can also click “What’s Alive in the Park” and learn about the various birds, butterflies, bees, plants, and insects in our park.
Turn your hike into a scavenger hunt! For example, consider bringing along flashcards of leaves, flowers, shrubs, trees, or birds to see if you can identify any of the illustrations or photos in real life.
Play games, such as:
The Alphabet Game: Start at the beginning of the alphabet and identify something on the trail that begins with "A", and work your way through all the letters in the alphabet.
“I Spy…” or, “who can spot the squirrel/bird/turtle, etc?”
20 Questions / “Guess which animal I am?”
Hide & Seek
Play “giddy up” by “riding horsies” down the trail.
Play the “Rainbow” game – try to identify things along the trail by each color of the rainbow
“Guess what’s around the corner?” or “Guess how many steps will it take to reach that rock”
Challenge smaller kids to find things that are bumpy, fuzzy, big, small, rough, smooth, soft, hard, squishy, lumpy, wet, living, growing, round, triangular, moving, make noise, hard, smelly, etc.
Give your children roles on your hike. For example, make one member of your family the “navigator” (look for signs or Wireless Wilderness Tour stops); other roles could be “chief bird-spotter”; “chief song-singer”, “chief encourager”, etc.
Consider some conversation starters to help you bond with your kiddo during your hike. Examples might be, “what was your favorite thing about yesterday”, or, “what color leaves/flowers do you like best”, or “what is your favorite flavor of ice cream/cookie”, etc.
If you go during the early mornings when birds are most active, try picking out specific bird calls and identifying the type of bird. Over 144 Species of birds have been seen in the park. Follow this link for latest Ebird Field Checklist for West 11th Street Park.
Bring along a map of the park and teach your kiddos some early map-reading skills.
Make leaf printings.
Before or after your hike, your child can trace leaves and color them in.
Engage the Senses: take a short rest, and help your children learn how to practice mindfulness. Stop and listen. How many different sounds do you hear in 60 seconds? What smells do you smell (crushed pine needles, etc.), etc.
Journaling: Consider bringing along a pen and paper for your child to document their nature experience through drawings or writing.
Consider inviting your child’s friends (and parents) to come along, too!
For toddlers: Pretend to be a member of Mother Nature’s family. Ask your child, "If you were a bird, where would you build your nest or get a drink of water or look for worms?" Pretend to be a deer foraging for berries (you might want to bring some along as a snack), for example. And just in case you don't see Bambi along the way, you can guess where the real deer family is resting, and talk about a good place for your family to stop for a break.
After the hike, play this “ecology” game next time your child has friends over. Using yarn, outline a “pond” in your backyard or living room, and assign each child a role: bug, frog, bird, owl, fish, etc. Assign a game of tag inside the pond: The frog tags the bug. The owl tags the frog. And the hawk tags the fish. Then switch roles.
After the hike, download one of our coloring book pages. Send us your child’s completed artwork, and we will post it on the park’s Facebook page!
Check out our Suggested Reading booklist.