What are your kids learning about nature? Are they stuck inside a stuffy classroom (or even home) simply looking at textbooks to discover nature or are they actually out in God’s creation on a daily basis interacting with it? I can’t really tell you one thing I learned in school about nature but I can tell you the plants I learned on a walk with my aunt when I was about 8. I still have fond memories of those walks.
So, with our children I determined that we were going to use a hands on approach for learning. We use living books to excite and then just get out and explore! My husband is especially good at taking the kids out in the woods or field to discover new plants, insects and animals. This is a great place where the dad can take part even though he may be gone all week. Last year Dennis took the boys exploring in the marsh and collected dragonflies, damselflies, bees and lots more in a butterfly net. Then they brought home some of their collection. We then researched the bugs they found and took photographs.
This week Dennis brought home a turtle for the kids to observe then we set it free. Afterwards, we looked up it on the internet and I drew it for my nature journal with Gabe helping. He thought that was so neat! Then he saw an alligator snapping turtle picture and wanted to draw that also. We did and I explained that Daddy has those down where he works. He excitedly ran in to show the picture to Daddy and ask him about them.
We have also been daily observing our bird feeder and have seen so many beautiful birds. The woodpeckers have made us laugh because they are so big and can’t properly sit on the feeder but must hang from the pole that holds the feeder up. There has also been a new visitor which we did not recognize. I looked it up and it is a Red-Breasted Grosbeak. They are gorgeous! I drew one for our nature journal.
The boys regularly catch lizards and frogs and after observing them, turn them loose again. A few weeks ago Jake caught a lizard that was about to lay eggs. How neat is that?
The boys and even Lilly have learned many of the plants that grow wild around our home. Both of the boys quickly grab plaintain from the yard if someone has a sting or a boo-boo. They eat copious amounts of wild garlic (ugg!) and the sweet/spicy lemon clover that grow wild in our yard. They pick bouquets of tiny wildflowers and already know many of them by name. We are also learning to draw them.
They have started being able to identify many of the trees in our area and we always discuss the type of the tree it is when they bring in leaves. This fall I plan to let them press leaves into a book and label them all.
This constant being out in nature brings out the naturalist that is present in us all. Children will gravitate to exploration if their natural curiosity is not stunted by so many dull facts. They need to learn a little from you, then teach themselves how to learn! This will produce a lifelong love for the outdoors, science and learning. After all, if you know how to learn, the sky really is the limit!