“It is quite possible for today’s child to grow up without ever having taken a solitary walk beside a stream, or spend the hours we used to forage for pine cones, leaves, feathers, and rocks – treasures more precious than store-bought ones.  Today it is difficult to tear children away from the virtual world of the mall to introduce them to the real one.”  Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble, The Geography of Childhood.                                                                            

As the weather turns to spring, and we eagerly spend more time outside, think about how nature supports children. Encouraging children to explore their natural world addresses skill development in all developmental domains. Experiencing nature encompasses the development of the ‘whole child’, a concept that is embraced by the field of early childhood education. The following Nature Walk Activity demonstrates how all of these domains are addressed.  The table shows a ‘snapshot’ of how this activity supports the development of the whole child.

The Activity:  Nature Collection Walk

A simple walk outside, especially through a park or nature reserve, provides a wealth of material, experiences, and observations to promote development in all areas/domains.  Increase the on-going learning by doing the same walk during different seasons of the year.  Encourage children to ‘collect’ treasures – make sure the children have bags in which to put their treasures! An egg carton is a great ‘organizing’ tool. Winter ‘collecting’ is more about things they see than actually pick up.  Use their ideas for lots of art and language activities. This is fun for adults and children alike!

Experience/observation/activity Domain Development of skill
The ‘walk’ to pick up/collect items Physical ·   Large motor skills – walking

·   Walk enhances personal health and fitness

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The children are happy – walking and talking with each other about what they are finding Social/Emotional ·   Children interact positively with each other

·   Children cooperate with each other in sharing items

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Children ask questions about what they see Approaches to Learning ·  Curiosity

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Collect rocks, feathers, pine cones, grasses etc. Cognitive ·   Scientific observation and exploration

·   Science and math- comparisons

·   Math – sorting and patterning

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Use feathers, grass, pine cones to create a work of art Creative ·  Self-expression

·  Share ideas and thoughts about creation

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Children look up in the trees and see different things – birds, branches, leaves, etc. Literacy and Language ·   Care giver and child talk about what they see, what they might do with it, how things are the same/different

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Don’t be afraid to get outside and just enjoy!