“The most effective kind of education is that a child
should play amongst lovely things.” — Plato
We call these "nature packs". We use clear
backpacks (from Lakeshore), small clipboards
with paper, colored pencils, and a magnifying glass.
The children are encouraged to look around at things
in nature. Observe them closely with the magnifying glass
and then, if they'd like, they can sketch what they see.
This can be done individually, with a friend,
or in a group.
This winter we haven't experienced much rain,
but we normally do. Last year our rain came
a little later than usual, which may be the
case this time, as well. Last year I found these
adorable rain boots and purchased 4 pairs so
we could take the kids out on rainy days to do
some exploring. We call them "monkey boots".
We were so fortunate that when we decided to
try them out, one of our preschool dads who just happens to be
a park ranger, was hanging out with us. He
was able to help us identify the birds, mushrooms,
plants, and worms we saw. What fun!!
Another valuable resource we have available to us is
an Outdoor Learning Laboratory aka "the pond". Our
ranger dad was able to be present when we went there
for a visit with our buddies and was able to give us on
the spot nature lessons about the ducks, geese, and other
animals that live and frequent the area. Thanks, Ranger Jeremiah!
Another activity we began doing this school year
was "nature frames". I saw this idea when visiting
a Reggio exhibit in Monterey in the fall.
Simply place some old picture frames, without the
glass or the back insert, on a flat surface. We then
encouraged the children to collect nature items and
arrange them within the frame. The kids had a blast
collecting and arranging. It was a group activity so they
had to all agree how it was to look.
Then there are always times when the kids come up with
their own experiences without any adult guidance, my favorite.
One day some of the kids began collecting and sorting natural
materials on their own. Love it!!
An amazing resource a friend of mine discovered awhile back and
after viewing it and drooling for a bit, I ordered by own copy. This
book is amazing. It has short, concise lessons that you can do in
a short while or you can extend into larger experiences. Not every
lesson applied to animals or plants in my area, but lots of them do.
I ordered it through Amazon. It's definitely worth checking out.
I realize not everyone has access to the resources we do, but
with a little effort and creativity you can enhance the experiences
of your children. I'd love to hear and see pics of what you do!!