Just like parents all around the country (the world!), we are embarking on a learning journey with our kids at home. Between our families here, our kids attend three different schools and each school is doing it a little differently. However, one thing that we’re consistently finding is that the kids want to be outside, in nature. For that matter – so do we! So, we have put together a list of activities that celebrate nature, that you can do at home with your little learners. We’ve also included a couple that can be done indoors (nothing’s guaranteed – particularly in these southern states where we live!).
Here are 10 nature-based educational activities to have you basking in the sunshine.
Counting on ‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not’
Use petals on flowers to practise counting. Simply grab a couple of flowers and count how many petals they have. You can compare the totals of different flowers and introduce simple addition through adding the petals of one flower to the petals of another. If your child is slightly older or more advanced, use the petals for subtraction or even grouping and multiplication (only if the flowers have equal numbers of petals. You can even use glue or tape to stick the petals onto paper and write illustrated equations.
Collect leaves, flowers, grass etc. to make a Nature Scene Collage. Simply stick your collected items onto a page to create a picture. Use pencils or crayons to draw what you cannot glue. If you need some inspiration, check out a Jeannie Baker book.
An acrostic poem is a poem that uses the letters of a particular word or phrase as the start points for each line. Simply write the word NATURE or GARDEN or TREES or even the name of your favourite season down the side of a page and then use the first letter of each word to begin ‘nature-related’ lines.
Sensing a Nature Walk
Go on a nature walk (or just go into your yard and observe) and make a list of 5 things you can see, 5 things you can smell, 5 things you can hear and 5 things you can touch.
Graph the Garden
Spend 5-10 minutes gathering items from the yard/park. Bring them all together and then sort them into categories. The exact categories will be dependent upon what your child gathers, but some suggestions are: hard, soft, green, brown, on the ground, off the ground, light, heavy. Once you have all your items grouped, use a piece of chalk to draw the axis of a pictograph on the path or driveway (you could also use butcher’s paper and a Texta). Make sure your pictograph has a title and the axis are labelled (one for the groupings you have decided on and one for the numbers in each group). Then place your gathered items inside the pictograph, count your totals and record your results.
Prepare a simple Treasure Hunt page for your child. Include items (name and picture if you can manage it) you want them to find within the yard or on a walk. You can choose to plan a Treasure Hunt where they have to bring the found items to you, or can plan one where they only have to see the items. Bringing them to you can be more fun, but then you probably shouldn’t include things like, butterfly, snail etc.! On your Treasure Hunt page make sure there is a box for them to tick off each item as it is found; kids love ticking things off a list (who doesn’t, really?!). You might even want to have a little prize or treat prepared for them when they are finished.
Spend time observing bees. Don’t get too close! Find a bush or a shrub they are attracted to (I know they are always on the lavender bush in our driveway) and, from an appropriate distance, watch them. Watch the way they move and interact with each other and with the plant. Once you have observed for a few minutes, write a short diary entry of a bee. Pretend you are busy springtime bee and write about what your life is like. If you want to, you could even research a few bee facts to help you with your writing. Bees are really amazing creatures so you should have lots to write about!
Ask the Expert
Stand in the park or yard and have your child select one creature (snail, bug, bee, bird etc.) or one flower or plant to research. Have them choose something they are drawn to and then find out everything you can about their selection: name, species, attributes, life cycle, interesting facts etc. Depending on what your child is interested in, they could present their findings on a poster, in a booklet, on fact cards or as an oral presentation, such as a news report or a lecture.
Find a poem or a song about nature or gardening (a simple Google search will bring up dozens). Go through the words with your child and talk about the meaning and the visual images created. You can then practise reading the poem/singing the song aloud for a performance. Those of you with the time and the inclination could even go so far as to add a costume and choreograph a complete routine. Make sure you video the stage spectacular!
These are an age-old favourite and a list of nature time activities would not be complete without Hairy Harrys. Take a close-up photo of your child’s face (pulling a funny expression can be fun), print off the photo and stick it to the outside of a plastic cup. Then fill the cup with soil, potting mix and grass seeds. Don’t forget to water it! When the grass grows, it looks as though it is your child’s hair! Kids love this activity and they get to tend to and watch something grow. Win, win!
What other nature time activity ideas do you have? We’re always looking for new educational activities for our Sunshine Collective kids, so if you have any ideas we haven’t included, shoot them through to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Get out there, enjoy the garden and be brilliant!
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