I love the idea of nature study. I love the idea of just hanging out in nature, talking about what we see, and finding out details about the things we find. As the kids get older, of course there is a bit more information gathering, but in sha Allah (God willing), what I really want is kids that appreciate the world around them.
This summer I have committed to starting some more formal preschool activities for Aamina. Now that she’s 3 and a half, she needs a bit more to do each day, otherwise she gets bored and just wants to watch TV. With our new home, it’s given us good reason to explore what is around us.
Visit your backyard
Alhamdulilah, our backyard has been a fantastic place to get started in nature study. Just walking around, we get to talk about pine needles vs. leaves, little leaves vs. big leaves, flower sizes, and the bugs that like to inhabit different areas of our yard. We have been fortunate that the previous owner of our home planted a variety of lilac bushes, peonies, trees, and other plants I have yet to identify. There are areas that are heavily shaded, so we have been able to introduce moss, and exploring the different flowers has introduced the idea of bees feeding from flowers. I believe some of our neighbors have bird feeders and bird houses, so there’s an abundance of various birds to watch as well!
There’s still so much we can explore in our own back yard, and I’m so thankful it’s been a place to introduce the action of being observant. Really, at this age, showing how observation brings new adventures is the key to future success in nature study. It’s so fun to watch Aamina just sit in the yard and look around.
Visit local parks
Whenever I’m with people who live out of state, I’m reminded of how great the parks system is in our area. In Minneapolis, every home is within 6 blocks of a park, and I believe the suburb I live in is pretty close to that ratio. Every home I’ve lived in has been within a 5 minute walking distance from a park with playground equipment. Some are next to ponds to feed ducks, with nature trails to bike or walk, or other amenities. Most city and county websites will list the various parks in the area. I plan to go park hopping around our new neighborhood to check them out!
Nature study printables
I have been scouring the Internet for nature study printables that I think Aamina would be interested in, and I am thrilled that she’s been so excited to use the Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers. She loves her Eye Spy cards, and we are making plans with our homeschool group to work through some of the animal booklets. Next week we’ll be doing the fish book when we take the kids fishing, in sha Allah! After that? We plan to each buy a butterfly kit for each kid and do the butterfly booklet from the nature study eBook. We are very excited! Stay tuned to the blog to get updates!
Do you do nature study with your kids? How did you get started?
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Jenny Bergren says
You are right about the parks. We visited a new one yesterday that had walking trails, a pond and woods. The irony is that is was only 6 minutes from our house and I never knew it was there. Google maps helped me find it. I typed in my city name and “parks” and it showed all the parks in my area. This park was hidden back in a neighborhood and I never would have stumbled across it on my own.
There are also a lot of nature centers in the Mpls area. The one we go to has a large bird viewing window, a nature play area (no plastic but lots of rocks, sticks and even a tepee) and aquariums with fish, turtles, etc.
And, this is a blog with a lot of great nature study ideas…http://handbookofnaturestudy.com/ .
Shannen Espelien says
I love that blog! When we bought our new home, someone came by with a packet from local businesses, and lot of local information, so I got a list of all the local parks. we know the area relatively well already, but this is helping us park-hop in our own town, for fun. 🙂 Isn’t MN great for parks? It’s a feature that’s mentioned again and again when there are ratings for the best places to live.
Fun ideas! I am always looking for information on Nature Study.
Shannen Espelien says
I’m glad you enjoyed them! I’m really looking forward to expanding nature study as my kids get older! Preschool is a fun time just to learn to look around you.
Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventures says
I second the tip of starting in your own backyard! We have bunnies, bees, flowers, a creek with tadpoles and so much to see!
Thanks for linking up with The Thoughtful Spot, Shannen!
Shannen Espelien says
Wow, what a nice yard you have! The houses across the street from us have a river running behind it. I’m slightly jealous. 🙂
Kat Reader says
Exploring nature is such a fun and gentle way to learn with children. We’ve done the butterfly garden several times with our boys and they absolutely love it! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing at this week’s Thoughtful Spot!