Nature study plays a big part in our Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool. Spending time outdoors and studying the world around us has so many benefits. These benefits are just as relevant during the baby, toddler, and preschool stages:
- nature study helps us find our place in the world and make connections
- nature study promotes curiosity and investigation
- nature study lays the foundation for more complex science lessons.
Getting out of the house or planning activities with little ones can be a challenge, especially when our time is divided with older children doing their school lessons. But nature study doesn’t have to be a complicated affair.
Here are four tips for simple nature study for preschoolers.
1. Walk with a purpose
A nature walk can be as simple as walking around your own backyard or a longer hike at a local natural area. Setting time aside for a regularly scheduled nature walk is a great way to begin the process of nature study with preschoolers.
Before setting out on a nature walk, I like to guide our attention toward some aspect of nature. We might look for birds or spiders or berries. We might focus on different types of trees or flowers or animals.
2. Start a collection
Most children love to collect things, and nature items are no exception. Collecting unique rocks or different colored leaves or wildflowers is a great way to explore nature in a deeper way.
Children can collect items on nature walks, in the backyard, or anywhere they go. Having a nature collection gives a child a sense of pride and a connect them to nature.
Find a fun way to display your collection on a nature table or somewhere inside your home to bring the outside in.
3. Document the journey
A nature journal is a great way to document nature walks, new species you’ve identified, or questions your child might have. Of course preschoolers won’t be able to write or even draw everything they see.
Be a scribe and write down what your child tells you. Don’t worry about getting too scientific. Naming the parts of a flower or finding the scientific name for a tree will happen later.
For now, the most important part of nature journaling and being in nature is making observations with the five senses. Use a blank notebook or one with guided prompts like this (affiliate) beautiful journal from Twig & Moth.
4. Follow the spark
Nature is always exciting because you never really know what you are going to see. Even things like dandelions that you’ve seen a million times before are new and exciting to our little ones.
Take the opportunity to make even the littlest discoveries something to celebrate. Let your child notice the world around him and see what interests him. When he asks questions, answer him. Find more answers in your favorite nature books. Spend even more time outside making observations.
These sparks of interest that we explore with our preschoolers are the building blocks that lay the foundation of a love of learning we all want for our children.