Nature studies are an exciting way for kids of all ages to learn Science naturally as they explore your backyard, a local park, or a nature trail. There is no wrong way to do a nature study, and they can be as planned or as spontaneous as you wish to make them. Often times, a nature journal is all that’s needed – learners simply write and draw what they observe. While walking through a natural area, teach your young children to count to ten with nature using a checklist of things to find and count. Make some birdseed ornaments and simply sit and observe the birds even during colder months. Learn math themes such as shapes, colors, and symmetry by searching for them in nature.
The most inspired artwork can be created while outside in natural surroundings. Take some art supplies such as drawing paper and pencils, paint or pastels and a canvas (or something as simple as a clipboard, paper, and watercolor tray), and find an object that captures your child’s imagination and direct him/her to make a masterpiece.
Sidewalk chalk is a creative way to study – try writing your word families in sidewalk chalk and make a game out of spelling! Or you can play Jump and Spell with your kinesthetic learner’s spelling word list. Reading and fluency will increase while you play in the sun.
In warmer months, get outdoors with your kids and grow a garden. The act of planting a seed, seeing it grow from a seedling into a beautiful flower or a fruit/vegetable bearing plant is a complete Science lesson in itself. For a culminating activity, you can discuss vocabulary such as photosynthesis, germination, seedling, etc. You could even practice foreign language gardening terms while you’re planting and harvesting.
Digging, Building and Water Play – your toddlers and even older children will always love anything that involves using their hands. The messier, the better! Don’t worry, all that mess is valuable for their educational development! Give them plenty of opportunities to play in the sandbox, build things with sticks and rocks, and play in the water and watch as their fine motor skills, creativity, problem-solving skills, and vocabulary grow.
Being outdoors lends itself to the perfect Physical Education opportunity. Create an obstacle course or a relay race, practice throwing and catching small objects, balance on logs, climb trees, and swing on the branches. Get your children’s gross motor skills growing with opportunities to run, jump ad play in the sun.
Just Read. On a perfect day with the warm sun shining and a nice breeze blowing, take a blanket and a pillow outside and just sit and read a while. Reading in the shade of a tree or under a tent is a relaxing and enjoyable way to get in your Reading comprehension practice for the day. Reading builds vocabulary and lengthens attention spans, so no matter whether your child is reading a classic novel, or a new popular chapter book, the educational value is optimal. (here are some fantastic book recommendations by age)
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