Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership
Spring has sprung! Tender new leaves and a bounty of blossoms are just a few signs that we are heading into a warmer season. Birds have arrived back to the area from their winter homes, animals are out of hibernation, insects are more visible outside, and the weather patterns are changing.
It’s a great time to observe and discover the natural world with your young child! What is new outside each day where you live? Do you see new plants sprouting, leafing out, or blooming? What colors are the birds you hear singing or see building nests? How many animals did you see in one day? Do you notice insects crawling or flying? Have you seen storms blow in and then clear to be a sunny day?
All of these observations can be written down into a nature journal. This can be easily created from paper folded in half into a booklet. For each entry in the journal, show your child how to write the month, day, and year. Add the time if you’d like.
Now look around outside, be still, and notice what is around. Help your child put those observations into words and note them in the journal. Your young child can add drawings if he or she would like make a visual record of what you both saw.
By practicing observation skills and noticing details and patterns in nature, you are introducing your child to new words and helping them learn how to express their thoughts and ideas.
Once you have started observing the natural world, your child may want to know more. Find the answers to questions about nature in these children’s books.
“Trees, Leaves and Bark” by Diane Burns. A book of pictures, facts, and activities to help young children learn to identify trees by looking at details.
“About Birds: A Guide for Children” by Kathryn Sill, illustrated by John Sill. Beautiful realistic paintings illustrate common backyard birds. The text tells basic facts about how birds live, in easy-to-understand language.
“National Geographic Kids Readers: Animal Homes” by Shira Evans. Especially for pre-readers, adults can use this book to help children learn new words about animals and where they live.
“The Backyard Bug Book for Kids” by Lauren Davidson is a story with facts, photographs of insects, and activities for young children to help them learn more about insects.
“Oh Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?” by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz. Part of the Cat in the Hat Learning Library, this book gives detailed information about weather phenomena and instruments as the Cat in the Hat travels with friends in a hot air balloon. Appropriate for young elementary age children.
There are also many natural areas and nature organizations that have websites with information, online tours, and live webcams. Search online for the topics that interest your child. Add information you learn together to your nature journal!
Family Reading Partnership is a community coalition that has joined forces to promote family reading. For information visit www.familyreading.org.