Continuing our encouragement of getting children outside, this week we delve into using the beauty of nature to develop verbal and critical thinking skills. As an example, we share the following photos of wildflowers along with suggested open-ended questions to help you consider how you can use walks, nature, and talk to develop needed school-ready skills.
Ferns can invoke good discussions. You can have children count fronds on an assigned plant and then compare their numbers. You may want to ask, "How would this feel if you rubbed it against your face?" This invokes a sense of more than a visual appreciation for nature. You might want to have children imagine they are tiny bugs. How would it feel to climb on a fern during a wind or rainstorm?
This may seem like an uninspiring setting for children. But bend down and examine all that is here. Some children may describe the many colors they see. Others can predict what might be living under the dead leaves. You may even want to do a mini-science lesson about decomposing as children can then develop a sense of wonder about the cycle of life found in natural settings.
What a treasure trove this plant brings to children. Ask "I wonder" questions such as, "Hmmm....I am wondering what made those holes in this plant?" Let children hypothesize. It's also a good opportunity for children to understand that you do not always know all of the answers. This can lead to a discussion about how to solve the mystery. Let children offer ideas about the scientific process as they can consider how to determine the architect of the holes. Your children will enter school thinking like scientists!
This is one of my favorite wildflowers. You can ask children to describe this plant (green leaves). Discuss their guesses and then show the group how to gently lift the leaves to reveal small, gentle wildflowers thriving under the leaf. These are mayflowers or arbutus. I love the idea that often we need to consider what may be just below the surface! An important lesson for children, even if they are too young to appreciate the symbolism. They will remember the experience in later years and may use the lesson of arbutus - I did!
NAEYC - 2.G.03.
Head Start - XI.B.1.