Celebrate and Discover Spring with a Neighborhood Walk

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!nature walk

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?

Part Four: To a Child, Love is Spelled T I M E

Spending Time in Nature with Kids

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.

spending time in nautreK 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.

spending time in natureThe 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?

5 Valentines for the Earth for Preschoolers

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.

valentine for earth for kids

  1.  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.
  2.  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.
  3. If possible, walk or take the bus when you have to go somewhere instead of using the car.
  4. Pack lunch with reusable containers instead of plastic ones.
  5. 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.

nature valentines

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?