Monday, February 26, 2007

13 Great Nature Activities for the Very Young

We're paying a week's visit to Virginia, where spring is already beginning. My daughter and I found a clump of daffodils that were starting to bloom, and spent a long and lovely time just looking at them and touching them. Nini was especially interested in running her fingers over the buds and talking about how they soon would bloom.

In my opinion, the best nature experiences for toddlers and preschoolers are the simplest. Small children intuitively grasp the magic of the natural world, if given a real, unhurried chance to explore it; you need only gently steer them toward its wonders.

Some ideas:
  1. Find some ants. Watch them crawl.
  2. Find dandelions. Rub your fingers on the flowers until your finger turn bright yellow.
  3. Find dandelions that have gone to seed. Blow the seeds into the wind.
  4. Same as above, but wave them around like magic wands.
  5. Go to a stream. Pick up some small rocks and throw them in the water ("Plunk!").
  6. Go to a stream. Throw a stick or piece of grass in the water and watch it float away.
  7. Find some pine cones. Rub them together like percussion instruments.
  8. Find some moss. Feel the texture, observe the color.
  9. Lift up a big rock and see who scuttles away from underneath.
  10. Pick up some dry leaves and crumple them in your hands.
  11. Find a pine tree and feel the needles. Break a needle in half and smell it.
  12. Find some sticks. Poke and scratch the ground.
  13. Lie on your back. Look up at the trees, and the sky, and the clouds.
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Utterly on-target, this lyrical (though somewhat disorganized) book details the increasing alienation of many children from the natural world and outlines the many benefits -- psychological, ecological, medical, and more -- from nurturing kids' relationships to the outdoors.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, your blog has been nominated for a Hot Stuff Award at GNMParents (

Voting closes Friday

Good Luck

Melinda said...

Hello -- you have a delightful blog! I found you via the GNMParents link. I'll be looking forward to your other posts. Are you planning on homeschooling?

Leslie Kauffman said...

I'm honored by the nomination -- and thanks, Melinda, for the kind feedback. To answer your question, my husband and I haven't made any longterm decisions about schooling ... but our current path feels very right at the moment.

In NYC, you have to apply to preschools almost a full year in advance, so we're committed to our unpreschooling/homeschooling choice for at least the next year, and possibly much longer.

Erica Douglas said...

Hi, I run the Hot Stuff Award at GNMparents.

Great blog, if you ever fancy doing a guest post at my blog I'd love to have you. We are definitely in a similar niche.

Thanks and good luck.

Anonymous said...

Great ideas - and I love this blog in general. I'll add a link from me. I wrote about Louv's book a long time ago here:

It's all more and more relevant as my 23 month old twin boys grow older.

ImaginationPlay said...

What a great post. This is such a powerful message. Would you mind if I share this with the parents in my preschool program, including a link back to your Blog? Nature Matters~ Tdeb