Keeping a nature journal is one way kindergarteners can learn about the natural world. Here are some tips for helping a budding writer and reader record their nature observations.
Visit Natural Places
Visiting and enjoying a variety of natural environments, like hiking in a rocky canyon, walking around a pond, or arboretum, bicycling along the seaside, or even public gardens allows children to be exposed to growing plants, insects and animal habitats.
The best way to have a kindergartener quietly observe something is with picnic. Every child is different, sometimes an exhausting hike might be in order, so that they can relax, listen to the silence, and notice the many shades of green, shapes of petals and scents on the wind. Some children at this age are able to sit quietly, others have a harder time, especially if they’ve been trained to be wild outdoors. It helps if we whisper and move slowly, and encourage them to imitate our mood. Explain that holding very still is the best way to get the animals to come out. It helps if they actually see a timid rabbit or bird first.
Instead of having them write their observations, record them with your cell phone or tape recorder and then transcribe it with nice handwriting or on the computer. Once it’s printed out, have them illustrate it themselves.
Keep nice colored pencils and a sketchpad in your backpack, along with nutritious snacks. In fact, mom should have her own sketchbook. When you see something you’d like to remember, sketch it out. Pay attention to details and do your very best. Even if you don’t feel like an artist, the main goal is that you’re trying and that your child sees you doing this. Offer him a sketchpad and encourage him to record something each time you’re out in nature.
Journal Through the Seasons
Choose one specific thing in the natural world to journal through the seasons. It could be the view from your kitchen window, it could be one maple tree at the arboretum, it could be anything at all. At the peak of each season sketch, photograph, write a poem or graphic description of it. Noticing how things change during the seasons seems to fascinate kindergärtners and can spark a lifelong appreciation for the natural world.
Kindergarten life science classes generally teach children the basic names of plant parts (this is a flower, this it the stem, these are the petals…) and their general function. A more important goal of teaching life science is an appreciation and respect for the living world. Memorizing names from a worksheet is less likely to bring a child to that goal than spending time enjoying nature and noticing all the wonders of the natural world
Prepare to begin a kindergarten nature study by bundling up and heading out into the elements. Bring a raincoat, an umbrella or sunblock and your nature journals. Use nice colored pencils and a sketchpad. have a few sizes to choose from, some children like a smaller size writing pad, like a 4×6 or 5×7 and others like having a large canvas. It’s more important that the child is noticing the big and small things in nature than to memorize every single part of the flower, without ever smelling one. Learning to enjoy nature and having an appreciation for life is one important goal of life science for kindergarteners.
These activities for teaching kindergarteners about glaciers are excerpts of the “Activity-Based Kindergarten Curriculum” scheduled for release in July of 2009. Subscribe to TypeAMom or Lisa Russell’s website by email for notification of its release, special early-bird pricing and promotions and more excerpts.