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Have you noticed how preschoolers love being outside and learning about nature? They collect leaves, acorns, and rocks. They chase the ducks and watch squirrels climb trees. The outdoors fascinates kids. And nature study is the perfect way to introduce science!
Nature Study with Your Preschooler
1. Nature Hikes
Nature hikes are the best way to begin nature study with your preschoolers. Your child can see ducks swimming in the water, eat blackberries along the trail, and throw rocks in the pond.
You don’t even need to go to a different location every time you head out for a nature hike. By going to the same place every week, you can see the gradual changes as the seasons progress.
In the early spring you’ll see the ducks arriving at the pond and trees just beginning to bud. A few weeks later the mama ducks disappear only to reappear later in the season with a group of ducklings swimming beside her.
As you return again and again, you’ll see the blackberry bushes bloom and then pop out with tiny green blackberries that aren’t ready to eat.
So make a point of taking your preschoolers on the same hike many times throughout the year. The changing seasons are fascinating to observe!
2. Read Books About Plants and Animals
Go to the library and check out books about the various animals you see. Read about ducks, robins, and blue jays.
Study up on deer and squirrels. Browse through books about flowers, trees, and bushes. Ask your preschoolers what plants and animals they’d like to study.
And you’ll find your nature hikes becoming more and more enjoyable as you learn about the various plants and animals.
3. Set Up a Bird Feeder in the Yard
A bird feeder in the yard is a wonderful method to attract birds to your house.
You can build one out of wood to attract the local birds, or you can cover a pine cone with peanut butter and birdseed. Once you have your bird feeder built, hang it in the yard near a window.
If you can, create a bird watching nook for your kids. Leave bird books in the nook for the kids to try to find the birds coming to your yard.
Have binoculars available so the kids can get a closer look at the birds without frightening them away. Place crayons, colored pencils, and paper in the nook so your kids can draw the birds they observe.
Your kids will spend many happy hours gathered at the window studying the birds visiting your yard.
Start a nature collection with your preschoolers. My own preschoolers have come home dripping acorns from their pockets or leaving trails of dandelion fluff from a local park.
A shoe box is the perfect place for your kids to store their collection. They can decorate the shoe boxes or simply label each one with the name of their collection.
Your children’s collections can be all of one type such as rocks, dried flowers, or seeds. Or the collections can be an amalgamation of items your child find fascinating.
They may collect shells from the beach, acorns from trees near the library, and favorite rocks from the local pond. They might find dried leaves on walks along with dandelion fluff.
Encourage your kids to store the items carefully so they can enjoy their collection for many years to come.
5. Start a Nature Journal
One of the best ways to enjoy nature study is to start a nature journal. Preschoolers will not be filling their journal with written notes yet, but they can draw pictures of what they learn.
Take the journal on hikes and draw pictures of the birds you see. Carefully observe the flowers and sketch them into the journal.
This will mean you’ll need to create a backpack for each child. Place their nature journal in the backpack along with crayons, colored pencils, and a magnifying glass.
The nature journal will become a treasure trove of learning in the years to come!
Preschool is the perfect time to begin nature study with your children. They’re fascinated by the world around them and are eager for an adventure out of doors.
Do you enjoy nature study with your kids?
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