A few days ago, I found pictures I had taken when I worked as an environmental educator in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. In this collection, I saw one of my favorite photos from that year. I had taken my class to one of the ponds, and the students were sitting along the bank. They had their notebooks open, and they were writing about what they had observed during our recent activity.
Out of the three boys in the picture, two heads were bent down in concentration, and the third boy looked out … Read more
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking through an asphalt parking lot and saw a young boy about five years old following his parents. He crouched down, scooped up a handful of asphalt gravel in his little hand and shoved it into his pocket. I’m sure that decision required some explaining later, and hopefully the conversation took place before the shorts went through the wash.
Natural Treasures on Display
Besides the occasional handful of gravel, kids can enjoy collecting natural objects. When I was a kid, I kept containers filled with all sorts of treasures in the garage, and … Read more
The next time you get outside to explore nature, take your smart phone along and download the iNaturalist app. This app gives your child the opportunity to be a citizen scientist, which means professional scientists could use the information your child collects as part of their research.
Features of the iNaturalist App
Satellite map that shows your location and plants/animals that have been discovered nearby. You can change the location to find out what’s been found in other places.
Camera connection to take pictures of plants/animals and upload them. If you can’t identify them,
Finding out where water goes can be a fun adventure. For this activity, help your child find your house on a map, such as the satellite map in Google Maps. Locate the nearest waterway, and then follow its path on the map to see where it goes.
For example, the canal behind my house leads to a creek, which flows into an estuary, which is connected to the ocean. (You may need to research ahead of time to find out which direction the water flows.)
Then print out the map, get some paper and … Read more
Kids are full of questions. They point at something and want to know what it is or where it comes from or how it happens. This natural curiosity can lead them on a path of environmental exploration and knowledge-building.
Go Out and Explore
By taking your children on outdoor explorations, you can provide opportunities for them to ask questions about the world around them. Go to the beach or a forest or a park. If you live in the city, you can walk and observe anything living, such as ants or birds, or nonliving … Read more