The nature is full of intriguing exploration and wonders for your child to learn and appreciate what is in this Big Big World. There are so many things that young children can learn from the nature. Stop hiding in the house and go outdoor and absorb the sunlight, smell the fragrant of the flowers, run and fall into a pile of dried leaves and catch some beautiful insects for exploration. Check out these fun ways to help your child learn about nature.
Mirror Exploration (Psst.. Babies and Toddlers love Mirror)
Mirror is the best way for your child to learn how to focus and track images. It also helps them to relate and build understanding of the world around them. By looking at the mirror, children will get to explore their facial expression and comprehend the wonderful expression on their face or what their body can do. While Babies will take time to recognise that the child in the mirror is a reflection of themselves, the older babies and toddlers will comprehend much more such as the other objects that appear in the reflection. Bring the mirror outdoor for more fun exploration. With the natural outdoor environment, it enhance the whole exploration of themselves and their surroundings.
Young children love to touch and pick things up. Why not transform it into a fun-tastic way to learn about nature. Just put a masking tape on your child’s wrist with the sticky side up and let them start collecting things in the park or garden when you go on a nature walk with them. It will be a great opportunity for you to talk about what they have picked up – make-up a story about the fallen feather or the leaf who turn yellow – will be great. If you child shows interests, you can think about doing simple planting with them – green bean and peanut plants are the easier ones to start with.
The most simple art project is one that is fuss-free, free and readily available – one that you can also involve your child in every step of the activity. Begin the project by heading outdoor to collect leaves (flowers and twigs are also suitable and readily available). Explore the different colors, textures, shapes and pattern of the leaves with your child and allow them the autonomy to choose their favourite ones. For younger children, you can use contact paper that is already sticky while the older children can explore with glue and how it works. Tape the corners of the contact paper on the table or the wall and allow your child to paste and decorate their creation. If time permits, you can allow your child to add some glitter and paint to the collage. When the masterpiece has surfaced, take another piece of contact paper and stick it to the masterpiece.
Play and Dance in the rain
Parents may be sceptical of allowing your child to play in the rain, for fear that your child may fall sick, get wet, fall and injured themselves. If we avoid the rain for these fears, we might be missing out on all the fun experiences and discoveries of playing in the rain such as:
1. Listening to the rhythm of the rain
2. Feeling the rain on the hand or face
3. Jumping in puddles
4. Looking at reflections in puddles
5. Painting in the rain
6. Pouring the rainwater from different containers
7. Creating music through the water in the bottles
8. Splashing at each other
9. Tasting the rain
10. Walking in the rain with an umbrella
So much fun and satisfaction your child can get while playing in the rain! Just don’t forget the boots, raincoat and the umbrella. Check out this video of a little toddler experiencing rain for the first time. The reaction is priceless.
A suncatcher is a small ornament or a piece of reflective glass that is place on/near the window to capture the lights into the room. It is easy to make and toddlers will really love this activity! Go on a nature scavenger hunt in the garden and look for the beautiful leaves that have fallen to the ground, the colorful flowers, twigs and branches and you are all set to go. Cut out the centre of the plastic plate and paste the contact paper over it. Allow your child to play around with the items that they have discovered and use it to paste and decorate the sticky part of the contact paper. When your child is done with the artwork, stick another piece of contact paper over the sticky paper to seal it. A beautiful and unique suncatcher is done. You can also do a few of it and hang it all in a row as a beautiful ornament.
Flower Petal Perfume
Children love all things beautiful and colourful. Well, how about creating your own little flower fragrant pot with your child that can be used to intrigue your child’s senses and make your house smell good. Follow these simple steps:
– *Pick up the flowers that has fallen, gather them and bring it back to make a flower petal perfume. Your child is going to have fun gathering the petals in a basket and playing with them.
– Fill a jar with the petals and add in the water.
– Allow your child to stir, squish and mix the concoction, they can smell it as they repeat the steps.
– When the child is done, seal the jar and leave it overnight.
– On the next day, allow your child to filter the liquid away from the flowers and their own little flower perfume is ready! They can learn many skills while engaging in this activity.
* Teach your child the etiquette and manners of treating living things with respect by not plucking the flowers.
Painting with Stones
Painting outdoor is not only fun but you will have lesser things to worry about such as getting the whole house dirty. There are also a variety of ways to do painting instead of the conventional ways. Collect different stones or pebbles from the park and you are ready for the adventure. Set up a slope like structure with a cardboard or corrugated board and allow your child to practise rolling the stone or pebbles without the paint first. Whey your child is ready, dip half the stone in paint and watch the mark left behind by the stone when it rolls down the paper. Take the opportunity to talk about gravity in simpler way and also why color changes to form a secondary color when it is mixed. Both of you can also have fun exploring the different ways of letting the object move down the incline.
Go outdoor with your child and find a big tree with rough bark. Tape a piece of paper to the bark and allow your child to rub the crayon over the paper. Let your child choose the colors they like and then teach them how to hold the middle portion of the crayon. As your child rub the crayon against the bark, they will be able to see the prominent pattern. A good activity to talk about the different surface texture and why tree has rough bark.
See the World with Multicolor Binoculars
Have fun with your child as you both create your very own binoculars using recycled toilet rolls. It is wonderful and exciting for your child to see the world in a different color. You can also simplify the whole project using plastic plates, cutting a circle in the middle of the plate and pasting the cellophane paper over the centre of the plate. A great activity to introduce nature and colors to your child.
Dough Play and Nature Prints
Create your own dough in a natural brown hue and allow your child to make print using the different objects that they have gathered outdoor from stones to branches, leaves to flowers, anything they can possible find in the park. Let them have fun and go wild with the prints. They can experiment with all kind of patterns and arrangement. This is a fun activity for young children and they can replay this over and over again.
What better way to appreciate and enjoy the sun, wind, scenery, fresh air and the nature than to have a lovely picnic in the outdoor environment. The child can have fun running on the grass with their bare feet, watch how the wind blows everything back and fro, watch how the birds fly in the sky and how their shadow looks like under the sun. So much fun exploration packed in one outing.
It is important to help children build connection to the natural world around them. Children who are in touch with Nature can reap many benefits across multiple learning and development. These benefits are long-term and will contribute to their overall well-being as they grow and develop into worth adults.
By Crystal Tan