Going out in nature and teaching children about autumn is possible as long as you have a slight seasonal change in your area. Even where I live in the South, small changes can be observed as the seasons change. Here are some ideas for activities your child can do.
Education standard*: Observe plants and animals; describe how they are alike and how they are different in the way they look and in the things they do.
Activity: Spend time outside observing plants and animals as they get ready for winter. If possible, view birds migrating south, squirrels gathering and … Read more
Nature-deficit disorder is the human cost of alienation from nature, according to author Richard Louv, who wrote Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Some of these costs are the diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and emotional illnesses. In contrast, some of the benefits he describes for children who play and learn in nature include
- increased creativity
- greater attention span for those with ADHD
- greater physical and emotional health.
Nature in Your Own Backyard
When I was a kid, I went outside almost every day. My parents didn’t take me to nature parks, … Read more
If you’re looking for nature activities to do with your kids, I highly recommend The Kids’ Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities & Experiences by Susan Milord. I found this book at the library, and after looking through it, I had to get the book for myself.
The activities begin on January 1st. Each week has a theme, and every day has an activity to go along with that theme. This week’s theme is rocks, and the activities include two field trips, two science labs, two art projects, and a rock collection. Other themes list poems and stories to … Read more
Find a Park
Have you looked at your county or regional park website recently? If you go to it and find the list of parks near you, you might be surprised by how many opportunities are available to you to experience and enjoy nature.
I knew there were some parks in my county, but I didn’t realize how many there were until I began to research places where I could teach homeschool classes. The website listed a description for each park, and many of the parks had nature hiking trails. The same is true for the county where I grew … Read more
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 ahead, as if he was … 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
Writing Japanese haiku poems is an effective strategy for combining science with language arts. Traditionally, nature was the subject of these poems.
Language Arts Connection
A haiku is made up of three lines. As you write them, you can teach or review how to count syllables. Each line has a certain number of syllables in it.
How to Write Haiku Poems
One version uses a pattern of 5-7-5 for the syllables. Here’s an example.
Rolling waves tickle
Soft sand slides under my feet
Pulled back to the sea
A simpler version uses a pattern of 3-5-3 for the syllables.
Red … 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, other users can help.
- News updates,
… 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 objects, like rocks. Take a notepad … Read more