You’ve now made the decision to help get your children or students more connected to nature. It’s time to get them outside and let them explore and inquire.
Kids can of course simply do this using their own senses and that is a theme that will appear throughout this series, but there are some basic tools that can aide their inquiry. These simple and easy to find tools will give children more options when exploring the world around them.
These are items you’ll be able to track down in most places no matter where you live.
It’s always great to get a closer look at things far away. That bird perched high up on a treetop or roof of a building can be spotted if your child has a set of binoculars. These don’t have to be anything fancy. A pair that goes for between $10-20 is all you need for your budding young naturalist. You can get these at any Walmart, sporting goods store, home center or online.
What better way to closely examine the living and non-living things of the world up close than with a magnifying glass. Watch those ants walking in a line into and out of their nest. Closely examine the patterns and texture of tree bark or the pollen on a flower. Young naturalists can do all of this with the aide of a useful and basic magnifying class. You can get one at any dollar store out there.
Encourage your kids to record their wonderful discoveries in a nature journal. This can simply be a notebook from a dollar store. It can be lined or plain white pages. Children can write about the observations they made that day during their outing.
Did they see a bird? What color was it and how did it behave? Did they see a new flower or plant? What did it look like? Were there many in the area?
They can use their journal to write about what they saw as well as draw pictures. They may even want to take measurements of plants or cocoons they see.
Pencils and color pencils:
These are an important tool for writing down their observations and thoughts. Color pencils are great for kids who want to draw pictures of the plants, bugs or birds they see.
Curious to see how a plant grows during the course of a growing season. Why not take some measurements with a ruler and record them in your nature journal?
How big is a ladybug or a caterpillar? Measure them and add the measurements to a picture you draw.
When your child is equipped with all the wonderful tools they need to explore nature, they’ll need to put them in something when they explore the world. A backpack doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just practical and comfortable.
Rubber boots are always something good to have handy. Sometimes exploring the world after the rain can be a messy task. It’s always good to be prepared in case your kids or students want to stomp around in some puddles or cross a shallow creek.
You should always take the time to check the weather forecast before heading out with your children so you can dress appropriately. In the colder fall and winter months, it’s important to dress in layers and on those wet days have a rain jacket or poncho. If it gets too hot in the summertime, maybe reevaluate if an outing is safe. It may need to be postponed until there is cooler weather.
Now that your child is outfitted for outdoor exploration, get outside and learn more about the plants and little critters out there!
(This post was originally written for another blog in December 2016)
About the Writer:
Kevin O’Shea is a PYP/Nature/Outdoor educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is an advocate for outdoor play and nature education. He is the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast and is currently developing the Making Better Teachers Podcast!