Monday, July 13, 2015

Nature Helps Develop a Speaking and Listening Vocabulary

We all know the wonders of nature and how exciting these can be for children. We can encourage and support this love for Planet Earth by taking children on neighborhood walks and playing “I Spy.”  You can begin by saying, “I spy with my little eye something that is green.” Continue by describing the object you see. Children are sure to have fun playing this game. But it is more than a game as it also gives children valuable practice with listening and speaking skills. When it is the child’s turn to guess, important practice in listening to details results. When it is the child’s turn to give clues by saying, “I spy with my little eye…” he or she must find appropriate vocabulary to describe a chosen object.

You can extend this game by encouraging children to look for the most unusual environmental object around. If you feel comfortable, let the child take a photo of the “treasure.” When the walk is over, your child can look at the photo and use the visual to remember details about frogs, eggs, or beehives, etc. They can point out features in their photo and share with other family members or friends. The photos below, taken on nature walks with young children, show how vocabulary can be developed as you remember these “finds” and discuss them.

This child found part of an eggshell from a hatched bird. He asked for his photo to be taken and used the picture to describe his treasure. He described the color of the shell, the size, and repeated the word half when retelling the story of his "find." This made math vocabulary concrete. 
This section of a hive was found. It resulted in guesses about what the cells were made from and ideas about how it was constructed.
As you can guess, this creature ended up teaching the word, camouflage. Ideas about how animals use camouflage were discussed.
You can also encourage children to look at websites such as those offered by Explore. Their cams show a variety of wildlife and children enjoy watching and can even snap a photo using the camera icon. These photos can be printed and shared with others. See their many offerings that allow a window into nature here.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.D.04, 2.D. 06, 2.G.07.
Head Start - IV.A., VIII.A., VIII.B.

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