What curriculum should I buy?
How can I get my kids to do their work when they won’t sit for more than ten minutes?
Just step outside into nature and the learning possibilities are infinite. Being in nature stimulates the brain and naturally engages kids so the learning happens effortlessly. Just being in nature has cognitive and physical benefits for children. Not convinced? Check out the research https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162362/
Nature is free, abundant and accessible to all. What other place can intuitively teach you about the interconnectedness of all life on Earth as well as the life cycles of all living things?
How can you incorporate glorious nature as a learning tool?
The options are endless from visiting a local park and noticing the flora and fauna to full on immersion in the woods. Just walking in the woods opens up dialogue and lights a fire to scientific curiosity.
This year, my 10 year old has developed a deep appreciation for the role of fungus not just as food but as a life transforming powerhouse as well as a strong interest in birding as conservation. He fell in love with science just by being in the woods. We incorporate literacy, math, history and science in the forest. For example, we do literature studies by authors such as Jean Craighead George, author of the My Side of the Mountain trilogy. For history, we are learning about the Lenape Indians who were the first to live on my local land as well visiting parks and fields that George Washington and his men fought many battles on. For math, we may be look at patterns in nature like the Fibonacci pattern and both find it in nature as well as draw our own examples. We may take home found objects to later sketch and research and write and draw about it.
Most towns or counties have environmental centers that provide free to low cost classes and events that are super family friendly.
There is technology to help you get out there. Cornell has a free birding app that teaches kids about birds and how to use data. Kids can be an active part of tracking birds as well as the health of the environment. Birding populations are direct indicators of the health of the environment. You can check out Cornell’s app here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/merlin-bird-id-by-cornell-lab/id773457673
I keep apps like iNaturalist and iSeek on my phone to help me quickly ID new discoveries. Many times, my kids will use the photos from the day to later use as a research guide on the apps. You can access iNaturalist here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/inaturalist/id421397028
I would love to hear about your adventures in nature! Please share!