We had a positively perfect fall day for our nature walk today. My kids even thought it was chilly enough that they insisted on wearing mittens. So, since warm clothes shopping hasn’t happened here yet, my son was stuck wearing his sisters pink mittens.
What I love about the transition seasons, fall and spring, is that it makes nature walks very dynamic. What I mean is things are constantly changing… temperature & weather, colors, growth or loss of leaves and flowers, the animals around us are bustling, there’s always something to look at, compare, and experience. So, we had plenty to talk about!
We started out by checking on our pumpkin in the back yard. My expertise is children, families, and parenting… I fail in any knowledge or common sense with growing any living thing from the dirt! Last spring one of our activities was planting some seeds, so, how fun would it be to grow a pumpkin to get to carve or bake with come fall?! This is the second year that we have planted pumpkin seeds, and the result is the same. We have enormously overgrown pumpkin vines, and 1 teeny tiny pumpkin that barely turns from green to orange. We obviously will be relying heavily on canned pumpkin for our fall recipes! So, once we checked on the pumpkin we grew, we then had to go check on the pumpkins in the front… the ones we didn’t grow! It still counts as nature I guess, even though it’s now on our front porch.
We found lot’s of great things to learn from. Seeds from one of our trees for next years growth, bugs, huge spider webs in some bushes, and lot’s of changing trees and leaves to look at.
Let’s talk about what’s going on here…
Early science and math: Obviously this is an early science and math activity, so those are the main developing areas. I’m certain that I’ve said here before, but I will say it again… all children are scientists. Doing simple activities like this allows your child to use their growing observation skills to build upon the knowledge they already have. So, on top of that it’s our job to talk about the things we see, provide new information, and connect it to their life.
So, for instance with our pumpkin I might say, “Hey, look our pumpkin is turning orange! It’s not green anymore. Do you remember planting the little white seed last spring when it was getting warm?” Springboard off of what your child knows or is familiar with (the pumpkin) describe something new or different that you see (changing color) and connect it back to their own life (planting in the Spring).
The key to any activity with this age group is simply being descriptive in our communication with them. We are obviously not going to discuss the more complex science behind the fall transition. They are, however, learning what a fall leaf feels like in their hand. They are observing (with our help) that those leaves aren’t the same color anymore and maybe learning a new color. And they are learning what cold weather feels like and what the difference is between feeling warm and feeling cold. Simple concepts to us, but they are creating an understanding in their little minds that they will eventually build academic learning upon. I hope you have a wonderful fall day to explore together!