As summer slides into autumn in the Western Hemisphere, it’s a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the outdoors. It’s not always easy to gather the troops for an outing, but adding an Outdoor Sound Hunt to the mix might be just the motivator they need.
An Outdoor Sound Hunt is exactly what it sounds like: you walk, hike or sit with your kiddos outside, stay (relatively) quiet and try to “hunt” or notice all the different sounds you hear. This mindfulness activity encourages children to tap into their sense of hearing, becoming present and attuned to their environment through their ears.
If you want to incorporate a sound map, bring along paper and pencils for everyone participating. You can also do this activity without creating a sound map.
Take a Hike
First things first: go outside. You can walk, hike or sit, but make sure you’re out in nature. Both times I did this with my girls, we were hiking with friends and decided to sit down in the middle of the trail. The kids loved it!
Get the Giggles Out With Breath
It’s not always easy for kids to quiet down, so try taking a few breaths to settle everyone. We first pretended to breathe like different animals. The kids picked a cheetah, tiger and many more for their animal breaths. After giggling through the different breaths, we then started the sound hunt.
Quietly Listening, Then Sharing
We had to stay quiet until each of us found three different things, raising a finger any time we heard something. My younger daughter didn’t quite make it to all three, but she could stay involved in the game which was great. Once each of us had three fingers raised, we shared what we found in the hunt. My 8-year old mentioned things like a bird, wind and breeze. We asked her what the difference was between ‘wind’ and ‘breeze’ and she described different movements for each sound. She had clearly tuned into very subtle distinctions using her senses.
Create a Sound Map
If you’re walking during your Outdoor Sound Hunt, pull out your paper and pencils and map where you hear each sound. This is a great way to teach kids the ways all our senses help locate us. Compare maps with each other and, later, from different outings along the same route.