In honor of Earth Day, I encourage you and your little one(s) to get outside and explore!
My son and I have made a routine of going out for a “nature walk” every day around 4:00 pm. It gives us an opportunity to get some fresh air, get some exercise, and learn (even though he doesn’t think of it as a lesson).
To make our walks more interesting, to engage my son in conversation, and to make sure we continue moving forward (especially when he wants to step on every single leaf on the ground), we started playing a good old fashioned game of “I Spy.” If you aren’t familiar with this game, here are the basics. You start by saying “I spy with my little eye…” and then give a clue about something you see such as “something green.” Then, your child will look around and make a guess.
When my son was younger, we kept it simple like this. Now that he is older and has a more developed vocabulary, however, we can make it more challenging. Knowing your child, you will have to alter your words to his/her ability.
After my son got the hang of the game, I changed the theme (unbeknownst to him) to “I Spy – Math, Science, and Nature Edition.” Instead of saying, “I spy with my little eye… something red,” to point out a stop sign, I now use the word “octagon.” Then we talk about how many sides an octagon has. There are a lot of pentagons, rectangles, triangles, and octagons around town which we often disregard when we’re not driving. Don’t forget to look for letters on the ground too, such as “FIRE ZONE” and “CHILDREN AT PLAY.”
Spring has sprung and there is so much more to explore outdoors now.
Leaves are budding, flowers are blooming, and birds are chirping – take advantage of these facts to learn (and then teach) about nature! Learn the names of some of the most common flowers that you see around town – for us, we see a lot of crocuses, daffodils, and tulips in the early spring.
We usually don’t just point things out and move right on. We take a moment to discuss what we saw. For example, we note the different variations of each type of flower, such as color and size. We talk about whether the flowers came from bulb or from seed. We talk about how seeds are spread, how flowers are pollinated, and the importance of bees and butterflies.
It is also sometimes nice to tune in to the sounds around you. You can always change the phrasing of the game to “I hear with my little ear…” too. Besides fire engines and dogs barking, there are robins, cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, ducks, and geese flying around and making lots of interesting sounds.
By playing this game, my son, at the age of 2, was been able to identify strawberry plants just by their leaves (no fruit yet to give it away) and where to find marigold seeds. Now, at the age of 3, he knows what forsythias are, if there’s a mint plant he can taste, and how to decipher between male and female cardinals. His vocabulary and knowledge of the world around him continue to increase exponentially. Additionally, this activity is simple, creates an opportunity for bonding, and best of all, it’s free!
You’ve heard the phrase take time to smell the roses, right? So, what are you waiting for? Get outside with your kid(s). Smell the roses. Touch the flowers. Listen to the birds. Taste the herbs. And, most of all, see what a wonderful world it truly is!
Here are some other fun Quirky Momma ideas for having fun with your children outdoors:
- Outdoor Activities for Kids
- Backyard Play Ideas
- It’s Playtime: Gardening with Preschoolers
- Earth Learning Activities
- Enjoying Art Outdoors
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