This nature walk activity is provided by Guest Blogger Kim Vij of The Educators’ Spin On It.
Nature Rocks! As we step outside with the warmer weather, there are opportunities to create teachable moments even with our youngest learners. A simple nature walk can build a variety of skills and knowledge in both science and language.
Are you ready to step outside?
Here are skills your child develops when they explore nature:
- Observation Skills
- Problem Solving Skills
- Identify Animals
- Discover Food Comes from Plants
- Classify Animals & Plants
- Identify Living vs. Nonliving
- Build vocabulary
- Identify Habitats
- Most importantly…Learn to love Nature!
Take your child on a nature walk and have them look for a variety of objects. As they are searching, look for things that move, that grow, that change or stay the same. Grab some binoculars and look up, asking “what do you see?” Use a magnifying glass - “can you find any insects for the bug house?” Look in the garden – “can you find food?” While they are exploring, you could create a nature box or bucket of treasures that they find. Or, if you want to take your nature walk to a whole new level, make Nature Alphabet Rocks!
Activity: Nature Walk with Alphabet Rocks
We created some alphabet rocks to help us find when nature ROCKS! Seriously! We’re searching for all the amazing things that are happening in our yards, parks, playground and trails right before our very own eyes. Here’s how you can create your own alphabet rocks and learn in various ways outdoors.
Grab a bag of inexpensive rocks (or gather some from your yard) and encourage your child to paint the letters of the alphabet onto the rocks. For younger children, you can assist them a bit more by pre-writting the letters on the rocks to trace. For our youngest children consider having them paint a few extra rocks while you are painting letters on the rocks, or use stickers that they can place on the rocks independently. While you’re making the rocks, discuss what letters you’re making and the sounds that they make. Create a sheet together ahead of time with all the letters of the alphabet and as you finish they could set each letter on the matching letter. They will be working on both identifying letters, letter sounds and alphabetical order!
Now it’s time to explore!
Encourage your child to search for a variety of elements of nature, and as they discover new things, have them select which Alphabet Rock belongs with that item. If they find a Flower, put the f rock by the flower! Items to look for include: Grass, Leaves, Flowers, Trees, Rocks, Birds, Squirrels, Sticks… anything that is an element of nature!
For children who are older, you can encourage them to spell out the items they discover with the rocks and have them record it into a nature journal. By incorporating Alphabet Rocks into a nature walk your child is developing print awareness, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge! To encourage this development you can collect the labeled items onto a tray. Once you’re back indoors create a Nature Alphabet Journal and record what you found.
What are your favorite ways to explore nature with your child? Leave your ideas in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.
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Kim Vij is the co-author of The Educators’ Spin On It. As an early childhood teacher and a mom of three, she’s learned many tips and tricks of parenting and teaching along the way in the past 20 years. She shares her “Educator’s Spin” on parenting issues and how to make learning playful and playtime meaningful.