Beyond the Nature Walk: Extending the Learning
Here in the Nation’s Capital we are all spending a lot more time outside after a particularly cold winter.
The long awaited sunshine has us all soaking up the sun, eagerly tending to our yards, hitting the parks, going for leisurely walks and bike rides once again.
Winter’s blanket finally melted away to reveal the first glimpses of colour poking from the ground. Children stop to marvel and often return home with pockets overflowing from found items – or what could be considered nature’s little gifts to these natural collectors. As caregivers and parents we can use a child’s natural curiosity to extend their learning even further.
Here are just a few ideas to use up those little treasures collected on your walks:
Sensory: Place your treasure hunt items into a sensory/discovery bin or a bottle with water to create an eye spy bottle. Place items into a heavy-duty Ziploc bag with clear hair gel and strong tape. Then tape to a window to create a sensory sun-catcher.
Crafts: Provide loose parts and craft supplies for children to create open-ended art. Items can include pinecones, acorns, feathers, stones, sticks, glue, paint, googly eyes, small pom-poms, and even dough for endless possibilities.
Salt (or Cornstarch) Dough Pendants and Key Chains: Press items with texture into small round pieces of dough. Press a hole into it and let dry. Tie string to the pendant for hanging.
Collage: Glue items to paper to create a collage. Or stick them to mac tac to create a window sun catcher.
Art: Create pet rocks by painting them and adding googly eyes. Glue pressed flowers to the rocks for a gift for Mom.
Literacy: Create story stones by gluing images to the rocks to guide storytelling. Paint the letters of the alphabet onto each stone. *Optional: Paint one side in uppercase letters and lowercase on the opposite side OR paint one set of rocks in uppercase letters and one set in lowercase for the children to match.
Numeracy: Paint rocks for counting or patterning games.
Leaves and Feathers
Leaf Sun Catcher: Sandwich leaves between two layers of mac tac and place in a window. This can be done with flowers as well.
Leaf stamping: Paint leaves and press onto fabric or paper
Collage: Glue leaves to a page to create a picture or collage.
Pinecones and Acorns
Colour Matching Game: Separate acorn nuts from their cups and paint them in matching colours. Young children can match them by colour.
Classification: Paint acorns in various colours for children to sort by colour or create patterns with. Add tongs for more challenging fine motor practice.
Rhythm Sticks: Paint thick sticks in bright colours to make your own music sticks to tap together.
Mobile: Create a nature-themed mobile by hanging found treasures from a branch. Or decorate a branch with coloured feathers, ribbons, and yarn to hang in your playroom.
And because I love picture books so much, I’ve included a list of a few of my favourite ones to add to your nature theme programming:
- A Tree is Nice, by Janice May Udry
- Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin
- Leaf Man, by Lois Elhert
- Not a Stick, by Antoinette Portis
- The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
- The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
- There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell, by Lucille Colandro
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen
- Or how about the old classic Fairy Tale: Jack and the Beanstock!
Et en français:
- Une si petite graine, de Eric Carle
- De la graine à la plante, de Melvin et Gilda Berger
- Edgar la patate, de Don Oickle et Sue Skaalen
- Simon fête le printemps, de Gilles Tibo
- Après la pluie, le beau temps, de Cécile Gagnon et Joanne Ouellet
- Mon rayon de soleil, de Mie-Francine Hébert et Steve Adams
- Le jardin imaginaire de grand-papa, Andrew Larsen et Irene Luxbacher
For more information on bringing nature into your daycare, check out our Getting Back to Nature, post. Thanks for reading!