Do you remember playing outdoors when you were a child? What are some of your best memories? Nature can be a unifying theme for teaching young children. Children love to be outdoors and to bond with the natural environment. Connect your child to the real world and use the opportunities to build a rich and varied vocabulary.
- the great outdoors
Step 1: Provide regular opportunities for your child to spend time outdoors in interesting and compelling outdoor spaces. Think about what would be fun for your child – places to climb and dig, flower and vegetable gardens, nooks to hide in, animals and insects to watch, quiet sanctuaries for daydreaming. Look for outdoor spaces that you and your child enjoy. Observe your child’s interests in nature. Does he love climbing trees? Is he interested in watching insects or birds? Does he love observing flowers and plants as they grow? Observe your child and try to offer experiences that match his growing interests.
Step 2: With your child, you can observe the sky and clouds, feel the wind brushing your faces and hands, watch new buds growing, feel rain or snow falling on your heads, listen to the sounds of birds or squirrels, and explore a wide variety of textures. The possibilities are endless.
Step 3: Talk, talk, talk about the experiences. Describe what is happening and what you are seeing.
Step 4: Encourage collection of natural treasures such as rocks, shells, pinecones, leaves, sticks, branches and more.
Follow your child’s interests and build upon those interests. Provide rich, descriptive conversation.
Ask your child to sort and categorize the natural treasures he collects. For example, he might sort things that are from a tree/things that are not from a tree; smooth/rough; by color or size. Provide an example of ways to sort; then ask your child to think of another way.