Spring and summer are the perfect seasons for helping your child learn more about nature. Regardless of where you live, you should be able to find plenty of plants, insects, and natural materials to serve as learning materials. Of course, your child might have so much fun that he or she might not even realize that learning opportunities are involved. Here are a few fun outdoor learning activities that you and your child can enjoy together.
Learning about Insects
Children are often fascinated by small insects such as ants, ladybugs, lightning bugs, butterflies and moths. The warm spring and summer months can be the perfect time to catch and inspect some of the insects that call your backyard home. Depending on the type of insect you wish to inspect, you might need a butterfly net, a jar, or even a small scoop or shovel. A magnifying glass can also be quite helpful for closer examinations. An older child might enjoy an insect species identification handbook, so that they can learn more about the insects they find. It can also be fun and educational to encourage your child document their findings in a small notebook. When the examination is complete, encourage your child to let the insect fly or crawl free again.
Learning about Birds
Spring and early summer can be a fascinating time to learn more about birds. Many species are build nests during this timeframe, sometimes providing the perfect opportunity to take a peek. Sometimes birds will build their nest on a lower branch of a bush or small tree. If you are lucky enough to have this happen in your backyard, you might have the opportunity to see the baby birds. To avoid upsetting the parent birds, you should always keep your distance from the nest. However, you can use a pair of binoculars to take a peek, even from a distance. You can also use binoculars to bird-watch in your backyard. Bird-watching can be an activity that the whole family can enjoy together, especially if you have a bird identification manual. If your child has a digital camera with a zoom lens, he or she could also take photos of the birds you find.
Learning about Plants
If you plant a garden every year, why not provide your child with his or her own garden area? Mark the area clearly, so that you child will feel a strong sense of ownership. Provide him or her with some easy to grow seeds, such as lettuce, green beans, zucchini or marigolds. If your child is quite young, help him or her plant the seeds and mark the rows carefully. In addition to planting the seeds in the garden, it can be fun to sprout some of them in a rolled-up paper towel that has been dampened with water. Keep the paper towel damp by placing it in a partially closed plastic bag. Check the seed package for the germination information, making note of when the seeds should sprout. During the germination timeframe, unroll the paper towel carefully once a day, so that your child can observe the sprouting seeds.