It’s June and summer is here! I know it technically isn’t summer until the 20th but my brain will always function like I’m in school… so summer starts… NOW! We kicked off our summer today with a nature walk around the house to inspect how things are changing. I am definitely not a nature girl, but I can’t deny what a rich experience playing outside is. We walked, ran, jumped, and skipped around the house and found all kinds of goodies. Yellow flowers, purple flowers, dandelions of course (why kids so enamored with them, I’ll never know), grass, Maple tree seeds and leaves, Chives, flower petals… my kids had a blast getting to run around and put things in their buckets to eventually put on their summertime collages.
There is so much going on in an activity like this you probably won’t be able to highlight it all with your child, but let’s break it down a little bit.
Large Motor: Going on a nature “walk” involves any form of movement your child chooses to move from place to place. Enhance this by encouraging them to try different ways of moving by demonstrating some moves (it’s still cool and fun when we do it now). You can skip, twirl, run, gallop… bear walk… hop like a bunny… anything that sounds fun to your child. Adapt it to fit their abilities and their interests as best as you can. If your child is less mobile or not at all, take them to the “nature” or bring it to them.
Fine Motor: The small muscle movements will show up in picking things up outside as well as in the creation of their collage. Picking up a leaf, pulling a dandelion, squeezing the glue, and putting all their beautiful pieces from outside onto their paper are all fine motor movements.
Sensory: Sensory experiences show up in a lot of activities, but it’s our job to highlight these experiences and give them words for our kids. Ask a lot of questions and describe what you feel, hear, see, smell… all of those senses. “oooh this tree bark is so bumpy,” or “these flowers smell beautiful,” or “this mud is slimy…” Outside, the sky is the limit to describing sensory experiences… literally!
Art: Your child will have a chance to practice their creative abilities when it comes to putting together their collage. If your little one isn’t quite strong enough to squeeze the glue go ahead and give them a little hand getting it out but make sure they have freedom to choose where they put it. My little guy had a blast getting to pick out all of the spots to put his petals, leaves, stems, and seeds!
Early Science: Believe it or not little toddlers and preschoolers are already picking up on early science concepts. On our walk some of the things we encountered were a mama robin protecting her babies in a nest that we got a little too close too, seeing the difference in growth of our maple leaves, and deciding whether or not a bug was going to hide in a hole in the cement. Simple concepts about animal homes, change in growth of plants and trees, weather, and so much more are early science concepts that we can enhance.
These concepts don’t even scratch the surface of all of the communication experiences this activity brings as well as colors, shapes, sizes… It’s a great big world of learning with so many opportunities for us to expand on the experience with questions and labels. Have fun making special memories and lot’s of new experiences for your little one!