Six Ways Michigan Kids Can Better Connect With Nature This Summer

By Nicole Collier

July 25, 2022

I spent several years living in Texas before moving back to Michigan. There, it was summer all year long. And while that was cool, I’m a Michigander through and through, so I longed for the chance to again experience all the seasons—especially Michigan summers with my little one.

Because you can effectively experience all four seasons in one week (or even one day) in Michigan, it’s important to get out, connect with nature, soak up the sun and enjoy all the sights and sounds while summer lasts. And since it won’t be long before you have to pack away the beach bag in exchange for boots and sweaters, here’s a list of six ways to make the most of it:

Get a plant.

This is an activity that my son looks forward to every year. Up until weeks before we have the first frost and it’s still safe to plant, my little guy is making plans for what he wants to garden.

We tried harvesting seeds from fruits and veggies that we normally buy, and we planted them. Bell peppers and herbs are a fun one, and they yield great results. We’ve also planted flower bulbs—and if you have a bit of a brown thumb, like we do, you can buy starter plants from Meijer. They usually already have small amounts of berries that are in the early growth stages.

Make a project of it. Write down what you observe, and of course, enjoy what blooms. We use the peppers, herbs and fruits to make jellies, salsas, and any other recipes that we can find.

Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. 

I’m an avid clearance shopper. When I stumbled across this Melissa and Doug Nature Scavenger Hunt game a few months ago, I knew it would be perfect for outdoor adventures.

And it didn’t disappoint.

My son and I often walk around our neighborhood, but this adds a fun, new twist. We’ve taken the game over to new parks, where you can search for different types of animals, leaves and rocks in Michigan’s great outdoors. The game even comes with a bag to collect your treasures.

Check out local wildlife. 

I grew up in a densely populated neighborhood on the westside of Lansing. So, outside of birds, and the occasional deer, I didn’t see much wildlife without going camping or traveling elsewhere in the state. But that is not the case where I live now—and it’s the best-case scenario for my animal-loving 6-year-old. There’s no shortage of wildlife to get to know across Michigan. 

My son and I purchased a bird feeder like this one, and our bird watching hobby has since spurred us to start a list of the different birds we’ve seen at our house and at different parks.

Another way we like to check out wildlife is by going fishing together. Our latest adventure took us to Hawk Island Park in Lansing. I was grossed out by the worms, but it was a great time.

Gaze at the clouds. 

As an imaginative kid, one of my favorite things to do outside was to look up at the clouds, and tell whoever would listen what I thought they looked like. This was passed down to my son, and its entertainment value has withstood the test of time. When I was little, I didn’t have an iPad. But since my little guy has one, we’ll grab it (or his Polaroid camera), head outside, set up a blanket and take pictures of the clouds. It makes for lots of fun and imaginative discussions.

Explore a local fruit farm. 

One of the best parts of summers in Michigan is all the fruit. There is nothing better than biting into a fresh, ripe Michigan strawberry or blueberry in the middle of the season. And as a Michigander, you’re in luck because there are tons of U-Pick farms to visit with the kiddos.  

It’s both a fun and delicious experience. My son and I took a trip to Blueville Acres in Belleville. But if blueberries are not your thing, here’s a list of plenty of other U-Pick Farms in Michigan.

Hit the trails. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, it’s time that you get acquainted. 

It’s a special district with 13 separate parks scattered across Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties—and they are incredible. You can hit a bike or hiking trail, splash around at one of their beaches, or even do some boating or nature study. 

Metropark trips are always a hit in our household, and they are a different adventure, every time.

My family’s favorites are Lower Huron and Kensington. 


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