With all this technology we've recently been swarmed with and the pressure of everyday lives and tasks, we live in a busy world. Regardless of how busy a schedule is, regular time outside with nature, is relevant to the child's growth process. That being said, get out and play!
Okay so it maybe hard to push a stroller through the woods for a nature walk with two babies and a four year old. Luckily there are places all over the country with different aspects of nature to be admired. National Parks, lakes, beaches, ponds, farms, camp grounds, or even Common Areas in town. Most of these places have walking paths, jungle gyms, different types of wild life, colorful flowers and all different aspects of nature. It is a parents job to expose children to nature and teach the value of keeping the environment clean by healthy and safe activities, while being properly supervised.
Depending on location, and travel, and how resources are used, can shape a child's since of wonder, and personality. In New England there are a lot of different lakes and National Parks that have different types of wild life. We have mountains, the ocean, while still having tons of lakes and farms. New England is also one of the only places that experience the seasons fully. Some animals you might find around your area are; turtles, geese, ducks, swans, fish, and birds. Beware, when the ducks come out at springtime keep in mind that you might run across some mating taking place. Depending on their ages, its okay to tell them that they are just playing or fighting, rather explaining to much at a young age with a visual. However, not long into spring you will find the geese babies with their mommies (they can become aggressive), or the new baby turtles making their way from the beach to the water. Moments like this are special teaching moments, that can spark a real magic moment for you and your babies.
Maybe this will help get you started:
Decide: It starts off as simple as finding a good spot and planning a trip. Another option is make a list of several different places well known or use google to find National Parks or National Landmarks in the area you are looking to explore. Talk to different friends or family members that may be interested in attending a family nature walk or adventure. Then decide together or if your on your own, when the adventure would work with everyone's schedule.
Commit: Write down on the calendar when the nature walk or adventure will take place. Having activities written down on a calendar as an "event" in my opinion, makes people more prone to attending and prevents pop up surprises of plans that have been made in advance. The whole point of planning in advance is to be prepared. Taking babies on a nature walk may not be the easiest activity for a stay at home mom but there are some tips that can make any adventure successful, and fun. So get committed. Get committed to not just one nature walk, but get committed to make this summer and every other season an adventure, full of exploring the beautiful world around us.
Success: Prepare a bag either the night before, or the morning of. Sometimes its easier to pack the lunches the morning of so that snacks & lunches are agreed upon before hand. Pack extras. Extra pants, shirts, drinks, lunches, snacks, socks, diapers, wipes, bottles, plastic bags (for trash), hair ties, sun screen, bug spray, Band-Aids with a first aid kit, containers to bring back samples for projects, a charged phone with camera, appropriate food to feed the animals, even binoculars. The more prepared, the easier the trip will go. Keep a calm mind and either get in the car and travel to where you will be exploring, or pack up the strollers and head out for an adventure.
Be observant, and encourage observations. It's usually ok to feed the animals. As long as your feeding them the right diet it shouldn't be a problem. They usually don't allow people to feed the pigeons at the bus stops and may request people doing so, to stop. Ducks in general should not be fed bread, where it has little nutritional value and too much weight can cause all sorts of problems including heart problems.
Feeding the animals? Here's suggested treats:
Seedless Grapes (cut into halves)
Non salted peanuts or almonds cut in pieces
Dried fruit chopped
Identify different bugs, and teach their names. An idea is to make cards with different bug and insect pictures on them. Make sure the card clearly shows the bugs features such as: number of legs, eyes, and colors.
Bugs to teach Children:
Bugs that fly
Bugs that swim
Bugs that dig
After making the cards, to promote identification of insects, prepare a scavenger hunt. After showing the child the bug on the card, have the child look for the bug outside. The girls saw a worm the other day in the play yard, They were so amused and thought the worm was "so cute". Then we let the worm go and put it somewhere safe where it wouldn't be stepped on. It is very important to teach children to have respect for the environment and their surroundings.
As the weather changes, and the warmer weather approaches, it's the perfect time to start a weather chart. There is a weather chart/board tutorial on the other lesson plan page that is a good follow up activity or vise versa.
Recording Outside Temperatures
To promote seasonal awareness
To enhance number recognition
To recognize the difference between hot and cold
To encourage weather experiences
Chart to record date / temperature Readings / Visual
DATE: TEMPERATURE: VISUAL:
May/27 67 degrees picture of sun for sunny day
Each day have the child come outside and check the thermometer. Then record the temperature on the chart. Use words like warmer, colder, sunny, cloudy, rainy. Compare to the day before and ask what is different. Look at terms such as sky, ground, air, wind, and climate.
Make sure to use a lot of open ended questions and give plenty of time for a response. Use active listening and repeat what the child says back to them so they can hear that your listening and engage in a conversation that stimulates the mind and their curiosity.
Whether they're playing in the water, using a water table, or running threw a sprinkler, water is an important part of a child's sensory development and enhances science concepts at an early age.
Some days it's not going to be an option to go to the beach. Some people may only have access to pools in the summer time if beaches are too far away. As most states are relatively far from the ocean, and don't offer many lakes for swimming or water play.
(make sure there are no allergies to shell fish)
If going to the beach is not an option, make your own! Most craft stores have sea shells you can buy, or if going to the ocean, collect them together. Even most grocery stores may have some different types of shells. Fill a water table or long tote with water, and put the different shells, and containers in the bucket. Sand toys work well as water toys too. Rubber ducks, water toys for the tub including turtles, and mermaids in the bucket of water.
In a different area set up a sand box with beach sand you can find at Walmart, local hardware store, or pool supply store.
An important sensory aspect of the beach is the dry, soft sand. Sand has a very different texture than water does. Having a sand box filled with sea shells and different sand toys to aid in explorations of textures include; shovels, scoops, spoons, bowls, buckets, sifters, and shaped castle buckets.
The children can either go back and forth or choose which area they like the most. Have towels ready, swimmers and swim suits on for the water table. I suggest having a change of clothes handy and lots of towels. Make sure sand stays away from mouths, and they do not drink the water. Babies should always be supervised while near water. The tote/table is not for swimming. Always take caution with babies of any age, near any kind of water.
Teaches collection vocabulary
Promotes fine motor skills
Promotes nature awareness
Collection of Medium Sized Rocks
Water Proof Non-Toxic or Organic Paints
Table Cloth or New paper and Scotch Tape
Paint Pallets (optional, container covers work well too)
( Tip) This activity can be done in fall, spring or summer. Have a carrying case or bag prepared to hold rocks collected and to keep them together.
1. Bring the child outside to start collecting medium sized rocks, or collect them from different places the child likes to visit to add a sentimental touch.
2.This project can turn into a two step project. Either collect the rocks one day when its nice and sunny out. Then paint them inside on a different day. Perhaps a nice project that can be done on a rainy spring day.
This project can also be done on the same day as the rocks are collected. I suggest collecting the rocks on a nice summer/spring day, and using a picnic table or child sized table outside for painting.
3. Before painting the rocks, set out some newspaper or paper towel. Tape them with clear scotch tape to the table and together, to make one solid table cover.
4.Painting utensils can range from paint brushes, Q-tips, straws, or anything fun to paint with. Adding sand to the paint, will make the paint textured and appear bumpy. Using a good non-toxic, maybe even organic paints, make sure that all ingredients comply with allergies, non toxic, water proof.
5. Have a variety of colors, with their own paint brushes for their colors so the colors look attractive. Resulting in no mess for water (spills, or colors that don't mix well) to clean the paint brushes. Have a couple paint brushes for each color or set up separate pallets depending on how many participants.
6. In a black sharpie write each child's names on the rocks that they painted, either hidden or seen, depending on which areas been painted.
7. Then after have the child arrange in garden to spice up the landscaping or make your greenhouse more interesting and fun. Also to attract butterflies and bees to the bright colors.
Coming up soon related to this article:
How to make organic paint at home, and with a toddler.
Green House Gardening and How to keep your plants alive.
How to Garden with a Toddler.
We Love the Babies
This page is for up to date lesson plans. These are new lesson plans that I have created myself, or have searched for. All credit is given where due. Lets get these little minds running!