As the season starts to shift from winter to spring, it is a great time to encourage observation and awareness of nature in your children- and yourself! Take note of the new plants peeking out of the mud, the different bird species returning or migrating through the area, and the (hopefully!) the warming temperatures. Below are a few ideas to help encourage observation.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a fun way to encourage observation in your children. You can find nature scavenger hunt pages to print online, or you can make one yourself. You can include items that are relevant to the season or to a certain subject. Remember to make your scavenger hunt age appropriate, one way is to use pictures for the younger children and words or phrases for the older ones. When coming up with items, think outside the box. Leave some items open ended. For example, instead of a specific item such as a stick or bird, ask them to find something that is a certain color or shape and see what they come up with.
Keep a Phenology Journal
When did the Black-eyed Susan bloom this year? When did the waterfowl migrate through your area? Keeping a phenology journal is a great way to encourage observation and note changes over time. This project can be as simple or detailed as you like. One easy way to is to make a quick note of these events on you calendar. Or you can keep a more detailed journal noting more information such as date, weather, and notable variations from the previous seasons. You can even join a phenology citizen science program like Nature’s Notebook (https://www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook )and contribute to scientific research!
Play I SPY Nature
Put a nature spin on an old classic. Tell participants they are only allowed to choose items from nature. This is a simple way to observe nature. Best of all this game can be played anywhere you have a view of the outside world; from the classroom window, at the park, or even in your car!
With our busy schedules it can be easy to ignore or take for granted the amazing cycles and changes in nature. Taking a moment to note the small changes in the seasons, the migration of birds, or the growth of a plant helps us stay connected to the natural world around us.