By Emily RivasUpdated May 17, 2016
You don't have to be a naturalist to lead a nature-rich life. Richard Louv's Vitamin N offers 500 activities for the whole family to connect to the natural world, whether you're in your home, the inner city or the wild countryside.
1. Practice wildcrafting by gathering plants for food or crafts. This isn't your grandmother's leaf pressing (though that's fun, too). Forage for herbs in the city or go mushroom hunting in the woods.
2. Play outdoor games from around the world. Here are a few:
3. Go on a belly hike. Have kids inch along on their bellies, covering just a few feet, viewing the drama of ant life, a beetle passing by, pollen on the petals of a flower, a new plant pushing up through the dirt.
4. Experiment with rooftop camping, especially if you don't have a yard. Rooftop camping is catching on with urban families and romantic couples. Set up a tent and leave the electronics behind.
5. Grow a radish inside a balloon by placing a funnel in the neck of a clear balloon and pouring in half a cup of dirt. Add a quarter cup of water and a few radish seeds, then blow up the balloon, tie it off and hang it in a window where it will serve as a greenhouse.
6. Count urban birds. Gather and exchange data on wildlife migration online, like the budding of plants, changes in the light levels, and other seasonal events. What's the first migratory bird that you spot?
7. Go geocaching using a handheld geocaching app. Navigate your way to the coordinates like an electronic treasure hunt.
8. Create your own nature gym in the backyard. Exercising outside offers more benefits than an indoor workout.
9. Take up the sport of orienteering. Using a map and compass, outdoor racing can be done on foot, skis or mountain bikes.
10. Finesse the art of tracking and following animal signs. Understanding and observing the signs that wild animals—from the largest predators to the smallest birds—leave behind is fun for all ages. See if an acorn has been split by a human foot or a deer hoof, or if it has been gnawed by a specific species of squirrel.
11. Help start a school garden made with plants, scented herbs, smooth river rocks, and other natural elements to stimulate the five basic senses.
12. Organize a family nature club. Work together with other families to set up a system for the group to explore nature together and feel safer doing it—meet at the park and go for a hike or plant a neighbourhood garden.
Excerpted from Vitamin N by Richard Louv (Algonquin Books). Copyright © 2016. Used with permission of the publisher.