Exploring nature with children

Fall and winter weather brings great opportunities to explore nature with your family.  Exploring nature with childrenChildren can explore and learn more about the world around them.  Extend play time by bringing leaves, snow, or ice inside!


At Dr. Day Care, we believe in playing outside EVERY day.  There are so many benefits to allowing children to explore the natural world around them.  From the NAEYC article, Connecting Young Children With Nature, “Nature instills in everyone a sense of beauty and calmness. It exposes us to things that are alive and growing and promotes curiosity and exploration.”  What outdoor activities do you remember loving when you were a child?


Read tips for parents from the RIELDS Fun Family Cards:

Encourage your child to explore and think about things that are living, non-living, man-made or naturally occurring materials. What are your favorite things to do in nature? Do you have a favorite season because of the weather? Think about ways you can share your interests with your child.


Exploring nature with childrenBABIES

Infants are very observant of the world around them and they depend on adults to help them make connections and label what they observe. When you are outside, point out the things in nature that you observe, like birds flying by, trees and flowers, dogs barking, or the wind blowing the leaves. Older babies enjoy touching some natural objects, like leaves, grass, flowers, etc.

Exploring nature with childrenTODDLERS

Children at this age become very aware of and interested in nature. Their main way of exploring nature is through their senses. Encourage them to touch, smell, taste and listen as they explore. Point out and name objects you see, like flowers and bugs. When you are out for a walk or at the park, allow your child to stop and look at things that are interesting, like weeds growing between cracks in the sidewalk, dogs walking across the street, or butterflies floating by. Use words to describe what your child notices and share in the excitement.

Exploring nature with childrenPRESCHOOLERS

Older children become aware of the fact that things are either living or non-living. They develop an interest in what things need to grow. Ask your child to think about what both plants and people need to grow. Talk about non-living things like rocks and dirt that do not need food, water, and light and how they are similar or different. Plants are a great way to teach children about how things grow. You can either buy a plant or plant seeds and make a plan together for helping the plant to grow.




Exploring nature with childrenKeep a box in your house or outside where your child can collect things from nature. Materials that may appear boring or typical to you might be very exciting to your child. Take the time to look through the box together. Talk about the ways materials are the same or different, how they feel, or where they came from.

Talk with your child about changes in the weather. For example, dark clouds warn us that rain might be coming. The wind getting stronger will make the trees move. Or, when it gets colder, it is important to put on a coat before going outside. You can talk about how much rain or snow fell or point out the frost on the grass or ice on the car windshield.

Think about ways you can explore nature in your own neighborhood. Even in cities, there are parks with squirrels and birds, and flowers and trees.

From the Rhode Island Early Learning & Development Standards (RIELDS)– Fun Family Activities, Science Standard.  Click here for more ideas!

Exploring nature with children