Train your kids to be wildlife detectives

Wild animals are good at hiding. But showing kids how to discover their clues can inspire them to care about the habitats.

It won’t come as a shock to hear that kids love animals. And nothing cements a memory like catching a glimpse of a critter while spending time outdoors. The only problem? Bambi, Thumper, and Violet don’t always show up for their cameos, and children can quickly become frustrated or bored with a walk devoid of wildlife.

Fortunately, experts say critters are hiding all around us—provided you know where to look. What’s more, learning to seek out and decipher wildlife signs can help set kids up for a lifetime of rewards.

“Even if it's just watching ant trails or following a bee around a flower, we're going to care about those things, because when we watch them, we connect with them,” says Kelly Brenner, a Seattle-based naturalist and author of Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World. “And so we're going to be more connected to the natural world throughout our lives, and more in tune with climate change and pollution and all those other things that we need to fix ASAP.”

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