The calendar says it’s Spring!! We’ve been waiting months and today we can celebrate whatever the weather. And where will we do that? Why, outside, of course!
A simple walk to check out the neighborhood can reveal all sorts of nature treasures. Even under the snow, (in most places, that is) there will be changes for kids to discover. Our first day of spring is pretty wet, breezy, and grey but there are new blossoms on the trees, some early flowers, a hint of green on the trees, and fuzzy pussy willows. Oh, and puddles for splashing in.
To borrow the word from Jacquie Fisher, a spring walk can be an edventure (KCedventures). In the video below, Elmo’s little friend is on a quest to see bugs. First, she and her dad see a spider web, hear frogs, and touch moss. The air likely smells fresh and damp, another sense that tells us about the season. When the dad lifts up a branch on the ground, sure enough there are bugs.
Not only is there lots of science, there’s lots of language too as the girl asks questions and the dad answers. The new words of camouflage and habitat are meaningful because they connected to an experience.
So much learning can happen in only a few moments. Besides the science and the language, this walk has encouraged two connections: one to nature and one for hearts. The girl has been able to share time with her dad and as he has answered her questions, the dad has also reinforced his position as the “go-to” source for information. As parents and caregivers, we don’t have to know all the answers to kids’ questions but we can be the way to help them find out what they want to know.
Can you and your child spend a few minutes outside to celebrate and discover spring?
There is something more important than knowledge about the natural world; it is appreciation and wonder and every parent can help kids with that. We do not have to be experts or great adventurers; instead, we need to spend time with kids out in nature.
K and his dad love the outdoors. From the time he was little, his dad has helped him see what is happening around him, and to use his other senses too. From some flowers in their yard in the spring, digging on the beach in the summer, shaking off some petals in the early fall, to tasting the snow in the winter, P has shared his appreciation for nature and encouraged his son to develop it too. Now that he has started school, K will add more to what he knows about nature. The foundation has been started by his dad and the two of them will have many more adventures.
The wind, the clouds, the ground beneath our feet, and the sky way above will be our home for our entire life. As parents and caregivers, we would be negligent if we didn’t help our children forge a connection with nature. We can do it in simple ways, taking a hike in the neighborhood and checking out the weather using clues right outside our door.
Whether we plant an entire garden or just one flower in a pot, we can share the magic of planting seeds and watching them sprout.
As we spend time with kids in nature, it’s okay to be explorers ourselves. Learning comes as we ask questions, and helping kids ask and find information is more important than knowing answers. We will get better at it, just by being outdoors with our children and using our senses. What outdoor activities do you do with your kids?
As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, here are 5 ways that toddlers, preschoolers, and even kindergarten kids can give a Valentine to the Earth. After all, the planet could certainly use some love.
Bottles seem to collect in dark corners waiting to be recycled. Kids can help take bottles back to the recyclers. Refund money can be donated to an animal shelter or wildlife rescue center.
Kids can notice if there are any lights that can be turned off. If no one is in a room, turning out the light saves electricity.
If possible, walk or take the bus when you have to go somewhere instead of using the car.
Pack lunch with reusable containers instead of plastic ones.
Spend some time playing outside. That way the Earth gets to play too.
Children are often better at reducing, reusing, and recycling than adults. Their enthusiasm and motivation are contagious. In order to develop an appreciation for nature, kids need to spend time with the trees, grass, wind, and sky. In urban areas, sometimes we have to look for nature in small spaces. Balconies and sidewalks can have nature in pockets.
Giving a valentine to nature is really giving one to ourselves. There are so many reasons why a connection to nature is beneficial for kids. Time in nature increases children’s problem-solving, creativity, and concentration. It promotes observation, a sense of wonder and supports imaginative play. It decreases anxiety and obesity.
As children take care of the planet and play outside, they are developing a relationship with nature that is life long. We are not above nature, we are part of nature, and so are children, especially with being so much closer to the ground.
There are many more ideas for Valentine’s for the Earth. These are only a few for starters. How could you and your child give a valentine to the planet?
Winter is very different depending on where you live but a scavenger hunt is fun and doable for young kids in almost any weather. Instead of a list for this nature activity, here is a chart using pictures. Some items may be tricky for your area. Kids can suggest something else and draw another picture … Continue reading Winter Scavenger Hunt for Young Children→
For the new year, no matter our age or where we live, we can all make this one new year’s resolution–to take care of the Earth and help protect the planet. Perhaps, because they are closer to the ground, children are very willing to do what they can for the environment and will often motivate … Continue reading A Children’s New Year’s Resolution for the Planet→
Nature is Part of the Magic of Christmas for Kids From the trees and holly decorations, the foods we eat, carrots for the reindeer, to lights and dark sky, Nature is part the magic of Christmas for kids, no matter where we live. When we stop to think about it, nature is included in Christmas. … Continue reading What Makes Christmas Magical for Kids? #10: Nature→
Wondering what the kids can do with the pumpkin they carved now that Halloween is over? How about turning it into a house? No magic wand or witch spell needed. Just the magic of nature. Once Halloween is finished, kids can also put their jack-o-lantern outside in a corner of the yard or a wooded … Continue reading What Kids Can Do With Their Pumpkin After Halloween→
This activity combines the real world and the imaginary, with a scavenger hunt in nature that kids can do for items that have a special Halloween twist. Kids may even find things that we wouldn’t think of as they look and listen all around for magic. They can smell and touch too, if appropriate, and … Continue reading Nature Halloween Scavenger Hunt for 5 Senses→
Johnny Appleseed was born more than 200 years ago but, because of the power of story, he hasn’t been forgotten. And, of course, the longevity of the trees. I couldn’t find any information for this year, but in 2010 there was still one living apple tree planted by Johnny Appleseed. Though old and gnarled, the … Continue reading September 26, Happy Birthday Johnny Appleseed→