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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Keep Outdoor Play Simple: Let Nature Supply the Learning.

Dad and two small preschool children going on walk outside on a path

Daily walks or time spent outdoors have recently become part of many families daily routines as the benefits of time spent outdoorsincluding lowering stress levels and combating hyperactivity, are being experienced firsthand. As such, many parents and caretakers are looking for guidance on worthwhile outdoor activities for their children that don’t require a lot of planning or supplies. Below are some ideas for simple, quality outdoor activities that you and your children can do together that don’t require supplies or much planning. 

Activity One – Taking a Walk Outside 

Taking a walk may seem too simple to have any real benefits, but it has many. It is a great gross motor and physical activity for the whole family, especially those still perfecting their walking skills. Even for older children, taking a walk on uneven ground such as over roots in a wooded area or through a park with slopes, arched bridges or hills provides excellent opportunities to practice coordination and helps them learn to navigate varying terrains safely 

Activity Two – Counting Natural Items 

Head outside to your backyard, a nearby park or natural space. Have your children pick an item that they can see more than one of, such as trees, flowers, rocks or even wildlife. Have your children count how many of each item that they see. For infants, talk about what you see and count out loud to them. Older children may even want to practice adding or subtracting the numbers that correlate to different natural items. 

Activity Three – Watching Clouds  

Find an outdoor space with a clear view of the sky. Lay in the grass or on a blanket and ask your children what they see in the clouds. Point out anything that you see in the clouds. Does one cloud look like a dog and another like a tree? Ask your children what they know about whatever they see in the clouds to help develop their critical thinking skills, and identify areas of interest that you can explore together 

Activity Four – Taking a Thankful Walk 

Take a walk around your yard or community and point out natural items that you are thankful for to your children, such as I am thankful for the trees because they provide shade for us on hot, sunny daysI am thankful for the grass because it gives us a soft place to sit outside or I am thankful for the sun because it helps all of the plants to grow. Then ask your children to point out what they see around them that they are thankful for, and why. Depending on what your children point out, you can dive deeper into any topics that they show interest in and help them think critically about the natural world around them.  

Even the simplest of outdoor activities can have numerous benefits for both you and your children. Use your time spent outdoors as a chance to relax and enjoy some quality time together while the learning happens naturally 

Rorie Wells M.A., CPSI 

Education Facilities Specialist – Playgrounds 

Engaging Children in Caring for the Environment

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by Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I always go for the humorous and well-illustrated books to help children learn key messages. When I was writing the tips and activities for the United Nations sustainable goals for early learning, https://www.allaboardforglobalgoals.com/en-us, I tried to ensure the activities were fun, playful and engaging. Children learn best through play as well as relatable characters. In addition to Thomas and His Friends, I have a few favorite books that I think your family will enjoy this spring to celebrate Earth Day and more. These books are especially appropriate for the sustainable goals of no. 6 – clean waterno. 11 – sustainable cities and communities, no. 12 – responsible consumption and production and no. 15 – life on land. 

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George Saves The World By Lunchtime by Jo Readman 

This cute story inspires all children to recycle and reuse. I love the illustrations and how determined little George is to make a difference. 

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Charlie and Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child  

Get ready to tickle your funny bone with the antics of Lola and her brother. I hope children get inspired to recycle their own toys and other items. 

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The Wartville Wizard, by Don Madden 

Imagine all of your trash sticking to you. That is what children learn about when reading this whimsical tale. It is great book to help children discover personal responsibly and how their behaviors can affect others. 

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All the Water in the World, by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson 

Amazing illustrations and wonderful rhythmic prose guide children through the water cycle and our most precious resource, water. I love the diagrams. The book flows like the water. 

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Don’t Throw That Away, by Lara Bergen and Betsy Snyder 

This book is part of the Little Green series which contains other fun books about the environment. I especially like this one because the little girl is easy to relate to and most children can do similar things with the objects they find at home or in school. 

  

Gardening with Your Children

Even as an adult, I am awed by watching seeds germinate. I check my pots every morning in case a squash plant has grown an inch overnight.

As you begin your spring planting this year, plan ways to include your children. They will also be amazed by how seeds Boy Gardeninggrow into plants. You can talk about life cycles, nutrition and the environment. This helps them learn concepts in science, but you can also help them learn about math, language and other subjects.  Some specific examples of these lessons include the following:

Let them get dirty.

Let your children play in the dirt, especially if they are under three years old. It is important for children to explore the texture of the soil and the plants. They will learn how to mold soil, to change its shape and volume and to contain a mess within a safe space for free exploration. These types of hands-on experiences help children make concrete connections to words and experiences.  Sensory based play and exploration will cultivate your children’s physical development, especially the important small muscles in their hands and the tendons in their fingers.

Teach them how to nurture.

Your children will love taking care of plants and watching them grow. Preschool age children enjoy jobs that create a sense of responsibility.  Working in a garden helps them see the fruits of their efforts, leading to a sense of pride and accomplishment. Talk to your children about the needs of the plants including food, water and sunlight. For children who are three years old and older, you can begin a conversation that compares what plants and people need to live. Your children can learn fundamental social and emotional skills like empathy, communication, cooperation and learn to identify and express feelings while gardening.

Incorporate math.

While gardening, your children can learn fundamental math skills like patterns, sequences and numeracy. Consider the following activities.

  • Patterns
    You can plan the garden with your children by grouping similar seeds together. You can plant the vegetables in rows or you can plant the flowers by color. Once the garden is growing, you can help your children to notice patterns by asking questions like these: “Which plants have thick stems? Which have thin stems?” and “How are these two plants the same?”
  • Sequences
    Track the growth of plants with your children over time. Ask them questions about the order in which parts of the plants grow. You can ask, “Which leaves grow first?” or “What grows before the flower blooms?”
  • Numeracy
    While observing your garden, ask your children to count the different parts of a plant as it grows. For example, you might ask, “How many leaves are there now?” Model and use comparison words like bigger, more than and faster.  Measure the plants with your children and talk about how much they are growing.  You can graph the height of plants over time together. Clear flowerpots can let you observe and measure the growth of roots, too.

Develop literacy.

Always engage in conversations with your children. Read books about gardens and teach them new words about plants. Teach them the language necessary to speak about how plants grow. Ask open-ended questions like “What do you see happening?” or “What do you think the garden will look like next week?” to encourage them to think and communicate about their surroundings. Use a photo album or a three-ring binder with page protectors to create a book about your gardening experiences.  You can review past experiences and encourage verbal and written language skills by reading it together. Your children can also use their creative skills to draw illustrations and decorate the cover.

At the end of the summer, we hope that you will have a beautiful garden and an enthusiastic, blooming gardener.

Cardboard Tube Bird Feeder

February is National Bird Feeding Month! Invite feathered friends to your yard with some DIY cardboard tube feeders. You and your little ones will enjoy the fruits of your labor when watching the beautiful birds come to eat. To learn even more about your backyard birds, visit the National Audubon Society’s website.

What You Need

  • Plate
  • Birdseed
  • Nut or Seed Butter
  • Cardboard Tube (toilet paper size or half of a paper towel roll)
  • String

Instructions

  1. Pour the birdseed onto the plate and use a spoon, butter knife or Popsicle stick to coat the outside of the cardboard tube with the nut or seed butter.
  2. Roll the coated tube in the birdseed. Fill in any gaps as needed until the whole tube is covered.
  3. Thread a piece of string through the cardboard tube and tie the ends of the string together.
  4. Hang it from a tree for the birds to enjoy!

How Does a Garden Grow?

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Combine family fun with learning about nature and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Spending time gardening with your children can be fun and help them learn about how things grow. Most children have an inborn desire to explore and understand their world. Gardening is a perfect way for them to explore nature while learning about life cycles, nutrition and the environment. By gardening, your children will begin to develop new skills and ideas. They will learn new plant-related words, practice math skills by counting the number of days the seed takes to grow roots and learn about procedures and sequences by tracking the stages of the plant’s growth.

Begin your adventure by reading a book about gardening, such as The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, which will whet your children’s interest and cultivate their imaginations. After the introduction, you can talk about the basic steps involved in starting a garden.

  1. Plant a seed
  2. Count the number of days until the root, which is hidden under the soil, comes out of the seed.
  3. Look for the shoot to emerge from the soil.
  4. Watch the seed coat drop off displaying the new leaves as the shoot emerges.
  5. Observe how the seedling forms.
  6. Appreciate how the baby plant grows.

In your local garden store, you can find seeds, decomposable pots and topsoil. Let your children fill the pots with the soil and help them plant the seeds in the soil. After the seedlings grow large enough, the whole family can till the garden. Your children will develop a healthy lifestyle by working outdoors and eating the fresh food that your plants produce.

Backyard Camping Trip

Plan a family camping trip to your backyard.

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Enjoy the wonderful feeling of family bonding while only being feet away from your own home. A backyard camping trip can be a unique idea, and it’s great for family togetherness. Your children won’t be afraid while having the security of being so close to their safe place: their home. You can enjoy all that is involved with camping while still being able to use your own bathroom. What a great camping experience! To ensure this feels like a legitimate camping trip, remember all the necessary equipment, such as a flashlight, non-perishable food, water and a tent.

You can include the following activities:

  • Create a small campfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows;
  • Sing campfire songs;
  • Play catch, hula-hoop or jump-rope;
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt;
  • Hold a yoga session during sunset for a soothing end to the day;
  • Catch fireflies (depending on the season); Stargaze and teach your child about the constellations.

The 5 Best Outdoor Family Activities for the Most Time-Pressed Moms

Outdoor family activities don’t have to require a lot of planning or trips to the store. Here are five easy, low-cost ideas for working moms.

For any mother, time with your family is extremely valuable, especially when balancing that time with a career. You want to plan fun, entertaining activities to do with your children, but you also need ideas that don’t require a lot of time or an unwanted trip to the craft store.

Now that spring is in the air, you’re likely looking for ways to have fun outside as a family. These five outdoor activities are perfect for working moms who need simple yet creative ideas that don’t require much preparation.

1. Sidewalk chalk art

 

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Take the coloring outside! Sidewalk chalk is a great item to have on hand for when your children get bored. You can take turns tracing each other, turning yourselves into superheroes and other fun characters. Develop your child’s gross motor skills by playing hopscotch together. You can also use sidewalk chalk to build your child’s knowledge of shapes, letters or numbers. For example, try having your little one run or jump to circles, squares, triangles and rectangles as you name each shape.


2. Sensory scavenger hunt

 

Children playing in nature

 

Photo: iStock

This can also be an opportunity to teach your kids about nature.

Turn scavenger hunts into sensory scavenger hunts! Identify the smells and sounds of nature together. It’s a simple way to have a scavenger hunt without requiring time to develop clues or buy additional resources. See what your children can find, whether it’s birds chirping or flowers blooming. If something sparks their curiosity during the scavenger hunt, let them explore and ask questions.


3. Car wash

 

Girl washing the car with mom

 

Photo: iStock

A fun activity that checks a chore off of your To-Do list.

As a working mom, your to-do list may be a mile long, so get the whole family involved with chores like washing the car. Your little ones will enjoy splashing in the water and playing with bubbles! They can also wash their trikes, bikes or toy cars! Car washes are fun, and doing them together is a great way to check something off your to-do list.


4. Bubbles

 

Family blowing bubbles

 

Photo: iStock

Kids of all ages love bubbles.

If your children love making bubbles during car washes, they’ll love blowing bubbles too. The best part? You don’t even have to purchase bubble solution, which can go quickly with accidental spills. Homemade bubbles are fun to make and may save you a little bit of cash.

The simplest recipe only requires one part liquid dish soap to 15 parts water. Combine the soap and water in a large dish or bucket and stir gently. Dip your favorite household wand like a slotted spoon or coat hanger. Have some fun cookie cutters available? Those are great for making bubbles into different shapes!


5. Evening walk

 

Family walking together

 

Photo: iStock

Going for a walk is also great exercise for the whole family.

After a work day, get outside with the children for a walk around the neighborhood. You can even grab a couple slices of bread and walk to a nearby park to feed the ducks.

An evening walk is a great way to release the stress of the day and let your children get rid of excess energy before bedtime. Take this time to catch up as a family and learn about each other’s day. You may notice this quality time together becoming a treasured family ritual.

Activities that are engaging don’t have to be complicated or expensive. After a long day of work, you’re ready for quality family time. Make it fun and easy with these activities.

Leslie Marley is the Director of Education and Curriculum at U-GRO Learning Centres, a premiere provider of early childhood and preschool education in Central Pennsylvania. Marley has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 20 years. She is passionate about serving and empowering children and families.

 

This article was written by Leslie Marley from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Play in the Park

Parks are a great place to encourage outdoor play. Instead of sitting inside watching television or playing on a tablet, plan a day at the park with your little one. Bring lunch, water and snacks so you and your child can enjoy the outdoors all day.

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A few activities to get you started for the day can include playing Frisbee, playing catch and jumping rope. Try to gather a group of children and their parents for a friendly game of whiffle ball. If your park has a walking trail, bring a notebook and ask your child to draw things that you see along the way. Take photos of unique animals, flowers or trees and research them at home for a nice cool-down activity.

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What are some activities you and your children do at the park?

Summer Activities

Ten activities to do with your child this summer:

  1. Ride your bikes around your neighborhood or in a local park to increase family togetherness and to emphasize the importance of exercise.

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  1. Have a picnic. Encourage your child to help pack the basket. You can talk to him about the different types of food you are putting in the basket, where the food is from and what foods are best for his health.

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  1. Go on a leaf hunt. Your child can learn about different types of trees by their leaves, and she can observe how the trees grow. To create a lasting memory of your wonderful walk, you can collect a few leaves, place them on a sheet of paper and color them with a crayon. This will produce an imprint of the leaf to have for the future.

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  1. Volunteer in your community. Many communities have public gardens where children and parents come to plant their own flowers to contribute to the beauty of the community. If your community doesn’t have a garden, consider starting one. This will teach your child the importance of being involved and giving back.

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  1. Plan a treasure hunt. For more enjoyment, include the whole neighborhood.

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  1. Prepare new summer recipes. Encourage your child to use his skills to help with the ingredients and measurements. Soon, he’ll be cooking meals for you.

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  1. Take some of your old clothes and place them in a chest. Now, you can have a dress-up day, which is a perfect inside activity for a rainy day. Your child will love dressing up just like mom!

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  1. Create a craft table. Prepare a corner in your child’s playroom or bedroom with a table for craft activities, such as drawing, painting or building. This makes for another great indoor activity for rainy days.

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  1. Stargaze. On a warm, clear night, sit outside with your child and observe the various Talk about what you can and cannot see with the human eye. Enjoy the starry night!

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  1. Teach your child to conserve water during her daily activities. Since we enjoy pools, oceans and lakes during the summer months, this is a good time to teach your little one about the dangers of pollution and the effects it can have to our oceans and lakes.

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Five Ways to Encourage Environmental Responsibility

Conserving the environment is a priority, and helping to foster an eco-friendly mindset in children is more important than ever. Here are five ways to encourage environmental responsibility.

  1. Teach your children to garden. Gardening is an excellent way to teach your twenty20_89c7a32e-5c1e-4530-983f-92f78ca380a3child some basics of biology, such as how the sun helps plants grow, how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis and how vegetation contributes to a healthy environment.
  2. Enjoy some fun outdoor activities. Creating a wildflower scrapbook or going on an outdoor scavenger hunt may help your child appreciate all the beauty, wonder and fun the environment has to offer.
  3. Go for a hike. Whether you walk through the woods or just around a local park, hiking lets children experience the environment while getting some exercise. The internet can be a terrific resource for finding hiking trails close to home.
  4. Start at home. Recycling and conserving electricity and water at home with your child can go a long way toward preserving the environment. You can even make a game of counting how many different items you can recycle every week.
  5. Make something new with something old. Cardboard tubes, empty milk jugs and many other items can be given new life with a little creativity. Let your imaginations run wild and create something fun!