Forget pinning cool things online for enrichment activities….just get outside and study nature!
Are you feeling overwhelmed with finding enrichment ideas for your kids? Sometimes it can be difficult trying to be sure that your kids are exposed to many different things, and sometimes we can overlook the beauty right outside our door.
Nature study: a hidden treasure right under your nose. Since the beginning of time, people have had a relationship with nature. Nature can hold a lot of memories, fear, or fun for adults. But for our kids, nature is a clean slate, a place of wonder, something just waiting to be explored. And they need you to show them!
Sophia’s sticky-fingered friend
How do we study nature? It’s very, very easy. For the most part, you just go outside with your kids. Take them out into different types of nature (creeks, meadows, forests, etc.). Point things out to them. Ask questions and ooh and aaahhh when they bring something over to show you. Bring a journal for them to use as their nature journal; date each entry and just have them pick something to sketch. (don’t critique it either!) It’s a wonderful memento to have in their baby book. Teach them to slow down, be quiet, smell, and just listen. Remind them not to pick anything; they can take things that have fallen to the ground, but teach them how picking, bending, or breaking plants can actually lead to the plant dying. Teach them that all animals, reptiles, insects, etc. should not be taken home and never, ever hurt. Teaching empathy in your child is very easy to do when you point out the value of life in nature and in our daily life. (Now rodents and pests might be another story.) You can even build natural playscapes in your backyard (Ok, pinning for ideas might help here! LOL). In our yard, we have bricks and pieces of wood for building, a worm garden, a table/chairs made out of wood they cut themselves from a friend’s cut tree, etc.
Does studying nature really matter? Well, I can only pull from my experience, and I believe it does. Going outside and just enjoying nature and its creatures is one of my kids’ favorite things to do. I don’t have to instruct or direct them anymore; they just go out and look for themselves. They touch and smell and listen, and it is their favorite time of day. They love looking back at their old sketches. They even enjoy searching through books to identify a bird or read more about a bee. The idea of studying the nature around us can ground our kids and remind them that the world does not revolve around them, but they are here to experience and protect the world. And a good start to doing that is by enjoying it!
Our little tree huggers.
Sophia releasing a tagged hummingbird at age 4.
What are your favorite things to do in nature with your family? Here are a few of more of ours!
Sketching the unicorn at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
Beautiful Atlanta History Center