Friday, April 6, 2012

April is Month of the Young Child

One of the simplest things my kids love is just taking a walk - in the woods, at the park or just around the yard.  There are so many little things happening in nature, especially in the spring.

I usually give them each a plastic grocery store bag and then they can collect things they find.  This might be rocks and pebbles, twigs, (my daughter has an affinity for big pieces of mulch), leaves, pine needles and cones, acorns, bark, flowers, old birds nests, antler sheds, feathers.  I also take along a bag and usually mine collects things that I find to incorporate into crafts or trash that we find - I take a pair of gloves for handling trash items and the kids don't touch those.  This part gives way to opportunities to discuss why kids shouldn't pick up things they find laying around - sharp objects, things that could be contaminated, germs, etc. - and why its bad to litter - what could happen to an animal who steps on it or eats it?    

We look - for signs of animals and discuss what those signs tell us - prints, what direction they were heading, were the deer running or walking, signs that they were pawing through the snow for food or nibbling on branches.  What is new from the last time we passed an area?  What kinds of bones do we find and what might have happened to that animal?  Colors - what are the colors that we find and why might things be a certain color - why was this frog green and the last one we found was brown or gray? Lots of questions...

Little Man finds a little frog on the trellis.  If you look hard you can see him clinging to the top. 

We listen (we must be quiet ourselves to listen!) - are the birds noisy or quiet? Can we heard the road? Can we hear farm machinery down the road? Chipmunk chatter?  Rustling leaves? Water in the creek? The wind blowing the leaves? Insects?

We feel - how does it feel on our feet to walk through different parts of the forest? Is it muddy, dry and hard, spongy, soft, loud or quiet, littered with sticks and branches to step over or rocks, sandy, grassy?  How is sandstone different from the field rock? What do moss and bark feel like? Are branches smooth or do they have thorns? How do different leaves feel?  How do WE feel walking in the woods - are we excited, calm, relaxed, tense, energized, tired, hungry (almost always yes by the end of the walk!)?

The questions we have during these walks are great - my questions provoke my children to think beyond the obvious, and it prompts questions of their own - many, many questions!  Sometimes I know the answer and sometimes I don't and my own curiosity is provoked - and then we research the answer together when we get home.  Listening to their questions allows me a unique opportunity to see how their minds work, how they process information and connect the dots to form a conclusion.  Often these walks spark great ideas on new projects or desires to learn more new things.  Sometimes our walks are 10 minutes and sometimes they are 2 hours - both are great chances to focus on each other and observe each other and the world around us.  When we come home sometimes we sort our bags right away and other times it might be a couple of days before we get back to them - sorting the bags creates another opportunity to learn and connect.

What way are you celebrating the Month of the Young Child?  Please share by adding your comment!

1 comment:

Rosilind Jukic said...

I love this post....what a wonderful way to spend time with your kids. I love the bag idea so they can collect things. I think I will steal this idea! Thanks for linking up at Mommy Teaches. I hope you come back and link up again. Blessings from Croatia: A Little R & R: