“Green Education” – What Nature Can Teach Our Kids

Kids today have huge advantages with regard to learning through technology; however, many kids are sadly, sometimes completely disconnected from nature. Now that summer holidays are upon us what an awesome time to introduce your children (no matter what age) to “Mother Nature” :)

Having all the technological advantages for education doesn’tmean that our children need to miss out on the important lessons that they can learn by interacting with nature. Here are someideas to get your kids out andabout, and learning some of thewonderful lessons that are just waiting to be discovered about
plants, animals, and the world around us.

Learning About Plants

Chances are, your child isn’t planning to be a botanist when he grows up. But, plants have a lot to teach us about biology,reproduction, landscapes, even art.

Some activities for children of various ages, to start learning
from plants, might include:

* Experiment with crayon rubbings of leaves and bark from
different trees.

* Learn to identify common wild plants and flowers in your local
area.

* For older children, examine different kinds of flowers, andlearn how different plants reproduce. Look updiagrams of flower parts in books or on the internet, then see if you can find
similar types of flower in the park or woods.

Learning About Animals

When you really observe the animals around you, you’ll find that hey are ALL interesting. A child can learn just as much from the sparrows in the backyard as from the lions in the zoo.

Ideas for budding animal observers:

* What are the commonest birds in your local area?

* Observe how different kinds of birds move. For older children,
learn to identify more difficult species, based on their flight
movements.

* Collect feathers, and try to identify what bird they came from.
Then use the feathers in craft projects!

* What signs can you find in the park of animals that are too shy
to usually be spotted? Look for prints, droppings, holes in the
ground and plants that have been nibbled.

* Look for insects in different places – under rocks or logs, in
trees and flowers, in ponds and streams. Gently catch insects in
a jam jar, draw them and then release them back where you found
them.

Learning About Geography

You can think up lots of nature activities that will help your child in school geography lessons; doing so will also broaden your child’s horizons when it comes to thinking about his local geography as well as larger issues.

With young children, try out some of these ideas:

* When you have trips out, show your child where the park /
river / woods etc are on a map. At this early stage, you’re just
getting across the concept of representing places on paper.

* Lie on your back in a field together and spot different shapes
in the clouds.

* Raise your child’s awareness by talking about the seasons and
the weather. Play games like spotting trees that have started
to change color in the fall, or who can spot the first signs of spring in the park?

For older children the opportunities for learning geography in
nature are almost limitless:

* Make your own map of your local park or wood.
Bring it to life with symbols showing where you have seen
different plants or animals.

* Learn about different types of clouds, and see how many kinds
you can spot in a week.

* Examine the soil in different areas. What are the differences
in texture and color? Does this affect which plants grow?

* Make a study of a river near you. What can you learn about it?
Can you find your river on a national map, and trace the path
your river takes until it reaches the sea? How do the shape of
the river and the type of soil it runs through relate to how fast
the water flows? What animals live in your local river?

Learning About Yourself

When we interact with nature, perhaps some of the most important
lessons we learn are about ourselves! When you take your children
out to explore nature, you’ll find they will need very little
equipment other than their own senses.

Encourage your child to learn about himself as he explores the
natural world around him:

* How quietly can I move? Can I walk slowly and quietly enough to
get close to a squirrel or a rabbit?

* Can I mimic the movements that different birds make? Can I
crawl like a turtle, wriggle like a snake, run like a rabbit?

* Can I close my eyes and use my sense of touch? For a young
child, a great game is to put several natural items in a cloth
bag and have the child feel them and identify which is a feather,
flower, leaf, piece of bark or a rock.

Wherever you live, and whatever the time of year, you and your
family can always have a lot of fun learning from nature!


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