As we continue our love of the great outdoors this summer, we wanted to draw your attention to helping children become nature observers. Be sure to point out the ways animals hide or camouflage themselves. Ask children to think and explain why this is important. Help them to see creatures in the grass, in the water, in fields, or even in the mud as they become keen observers and critical thinkers.
We spotted this frog in the muddy water along a walk. When you see a frog in a place like this, a few probing questions can lead children to consider the wonderful ways of natural camouflage. You might ask, "Is it more difficult to see this frog in the muddy creek than in the green grass?" Listen and ask follow-up questions like, "How does blending into the creek help this frog?"
When walking in a different habitat, you could spot an animal like this toad hiding in the grass and dried leaves. This yields a discussion about why certain habitats are more inviting for animals than others. Ask children questions like, "Why does this environment protect the toad more than grass that was all green would?" You may want to imagine the view of this toad from a treetop. Pose questions like, "What animal might try to eat this toad? How would its coloring in this habitat protect it?" These help children to think about scientific concepts. Hold 'grand conversations' and follow-up with children's responses.
Take the opportunity to spot nature "at work." Then what may be scary to children, like this harmless snake, can become a normal and accepted topic for a discussion about the wonders of the environment. Children may be more likely to consider ideas like the snake's coloring and how this helps it, then be fearful of its presence.
These are just examples from our part of the world. What camouflage can be seen in animals where you live? These kinds of observations and prompts will encourage an appreciation for nature and will develop oral language along with encouraging critical thinking skills.
NAEYC - 2.G.03
Head Start - XI.B.1
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