We were outside the other day and I showed Miss H a peony bud on the finally-blooming peony bush in our yard. I asked, “What do you think is inside?” I was sure she’d nail this one. “Pickles!” she said.
Maybe we need to practice observing the great outdoors.
I mentioned in this post that we’ll spend lots of time outside this summer. But observation is a habit, and I need to help Miss H develop it. This habit helps children learn to appreciate nature and beauty, to be attentive, and to learn about the world around them. Here are some nature study ideas to help increase observation skills.
Last week, we pressed flowers from our yard. Miss H pick a few flowers to use (I think we may have dried a weed). I saw lots of accelerated flower pressing methods on Pinterest, but I wanted her to practice patience, so we used the old-fashioned book method. She picked the flowers herself, then laid them in the book on the parchment paper. I love how these pressed flowers preserve the original colors so we can observe them past summer time. I’ll pink them on tissue paper and put them in a pretty frame.
Green Kid Crafts Bug Jar
I ordered a Green Kid Crafts kit last week, and it arrived today. The whole kit centers around insects, which Miss H is little wary of. It came with four bug-related crafts. The one Miss H wanted to do first was a little bug jar with a magnifying lid. She decorated the jar with stickers, and then we headed outside to find bugs. I think being on a mission to find insects made her forget that she’s afraid of them. We caught an ant and she was fascinated. There’s something about a thin layer of magnifying plastic that makes insects less scary! You can get a simple bug jar for just a few dollars on Amazon.
Side note: I might continue with a subscription to Green Kid Crafts (I’m not an affiliate). The boxes are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related. Besides the bug jar, the other crafts in the kit are a beehive made out of a little paper lantern, a coffee filter butterfly, and garden insects made out of wax Wikki Stix. Even though I’m trying to cut down on the clutter in our house, I think the process of making crafts is important, and the end-products make great gifts for loved ones!
We’ve tried and failed at implementing the nature corner in our house before. I didn’t help Miss H look for new things to observe and add to it. Now that she’s a little older, I’ve reinstated it. I think Miss H will initiate adding more into the jar herself. A little pine cone and a “helicopter” seed from our ash tree were the first things to go into it. Since we use a kitchen cart to store our nature corner, I also keep a few vases there so not everything has to be dried up and…dead. I make sure to draw her attention to the things we’ve gathered rather than just putting them there and forgetting them. Update: After a couple of months, our nature jar is filled to the brim (did you see my picture on Facebook?)
Leaves or Needles
Recently, we went on nature walk. Before we left, I explained that some trees have leaves, and some have needles. As we walked, I asked Miss H to observe trees. She immediately saw the difference between leaves and needles, and bounced from tree to tree to see which one they had. She also wanted to observe the bark and smell the trees. Yes, smell! She learned that some trees have a delicious sent, so now she smells every single tree she sees! (Ponderosa pines smell like butterscotch! She wants all trees to be Ponderosa pines!)
I love that she’s using all (most- not taste!) of her senses to observe. This is just the beginning of a lifetime of enjoying Creation! How do you encourage your child’s love of nature?