It’s important to inspire a fascination with the local environment in young children. Chances are, their innate curiosity has already driven them to set out into the woods and fields around your home. This is something you should encourage, as it teaches kids valuable lessons in geology, biology, and ecology. Additionally, they get some much-needed exercise in the sunshine while digging in the soil, turning over rocks, and peaking under fallen trees to see what little creatures live under there. It’s important to take part in these activities to keep the little ones safe and guide their learning experience. Here are some things you can do together.
Explore Your Yard
When you hear the word geology, it probably brings up images of mountains, canyons, and volcanoes, but that’s a little inaccurate, as your property is as much a part of the Earth’s crust as Krakatoa. There are plenty of interesting rocks found locally, while backyard geology also gives children an actual excuse to dig around in the dirt while still learning, which can encourage even the most skeptical of kids to at least give it a try.
Plant a Garden
Without soil, we wouldn’t have anything to eat. This fascinating mixture of tiny rock particles mixed with organic matter provides an environment for food plants to survive, and growing them in your backyard can teach valuable lessons in the life cycle as well as the importance of sunlight, nutrients, and water for organisms to thrive. There are many ways for them to get their hands dirty, such as planting, weeding, and harvesting.
Go for a Hike
You may want to go further afield to explore some of the forests and mountains just outside your hometown. A hike is a perfect way to do this, providing ample time for exploring the landscape, identifying different plant species, and spotting some fascinating fauna that call the area their home. They can also learn how to use a map and spot birds with a pair of binoculars.
Take a Camping Trip
For an immersive experience that’s a bit more extensive, spend a few days and nights out in the woods, exploring the nature trails while the sun is out and sleeping under the stars. As one writer at Mom Goes Camping explains, spending time outdoors teaches children a respect for nature while they disconnect from the fast pace of modern life and technology. It also serves as a wonderful bonding experience for the whole family.
Spend a Day at the Coast
Tidal pools are full of intriguing life forms such as starfish, sea urchins, and crabs. Your child will also get to experience the rising and falling of the tides, which leave large expanses of the beach exposed for collecting shells. Children’s activity website Little Bins for Little Hands suggests a number of learning activities that require nothing more than a shovel and a pail.
There are some hidden dangers when exploring the natural world, even in your own backyard. Here are a few rules to follow to ensure nobody gets hurt:
- Watch where you put your hands and feet.
- Shake out your shoes before you put them back on.
- Beware of poisonous spiders, scorpions, and snakes.
- Be careful of your fingers and toes when lifting rocks and boards.
- Learn to recognize dangerous plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
- Don’t disturb creatures’ living environments.
Have fun during your explorations and enjoy the beautiful weather. And if you see any trash lying around on the ground, pick it up and throw it away. That’s an excellent way to teach your child the value of preserving our natural environment for future generations to enjoy.