I know, I know! Anyone who has read previous posts will be sick to death of me talking about nature walks – but they are brilliant!!
Today, I had a long overdue day off. I’ve been on teaching placement for the last 4 weeks which has kept me more than busy – getting up at 6:30, working until 4 and then coming home and planning/ evaluating until midnight. But now it’s all finished (I passed first year WOOHOO!) and my summer holidays have well and truly started.
So… how did I spend my day off? I went for a lovely walk in the sunshine!
Feeling inspired; I thought I would blog about some of the learning opportunities that I stumbled across:
The first thing I noticed were that there are lots and lots of Dandelion clocks! I have many fond childhood memories of picking these and using them to ‘tell the time’.
There is a very obvious connection to simple counting here (count how many puffs to blow away all of the seeds). You could also use them to spark children’s curiosity in telling the time – do the dandelion clocks really work? What time is it now?
A different way to explore these would be to think about simple seed dispersion. Why did these dandelions grow here? What will happen to the seeds when you blow them away?
Blowing the dandelion clocks has the added bonus of developing some of the muscles in the mouth. These types of experiences can have benefits for speech and language.
Of course, it wasn’t just dandelion clocks that I saw. There were all sorts of flowers and plants!
The next part of my walk involved sitting in the shade and looking up at the trees. It’s important to take a break and sit in the shade – particularly if it’s a really sunny day. Encourage your children to look at the patterns that appear as the trees move and sway. Can you move your body in the same way? Children can also see how the sunlight sneaks through the gaps to create speckled patterns on the ground. Can we sketch any of these patterns? Could we make a similar pattern using paint/ collage?
Speaking of light and shadow, how much fun would it be to trace the shape of these shadows with chalk onto the pavement? You could also have the children explore their own shadow shapes using their bodies or loose parts. Come back to the chalk outlines later in the day/ the next day. Are the shadows in the same place? Why do you think this is?
Time to look up at the trees again! At this time of year you’re bound to find all kinds of beautiful blossom! What colours can you see?
Consider using colour match cards or some kind of chart to note down the different colours that you spot while walking. I’ve seen some great examples of this using paint cards e.g. Dulux (with the various shades).
Again, this is a great link to some fabulous art – you could use tissue paper to imitate the soft, delicate blossom petals.
As I was heading back towards home, this tree caught my eye. Firstly, the bark looks perfect for some fantastic rubbings, but also the bottom looks like a fairy door! If you have any trees like this near you, why not work with the children to turn the tree into a fairy house, and create a little fairy garden at the bottom? There are LOADS of great ideas for fairy gardens to be found on pinterest.
Here are some of the bits and pieces that I collected while I was out walking.
Be sure to explain to the children that we mustn’t pick too many plants/ leaves (especially not from people’s gardens if you pass by).
When you bring these items back home/ back to nursery, you could display them on a nature table for the children to investigate wtih magnifying glasses or mirrors. You could also add your natural materials into the sand/ water table, into playdough or into potions. On the other hand, they could be used for measuring and weighing, painting, or printing… the possibilities are endless.
I hope this post has given you a few ideas for your next nature walk!
Don’t forget – you don’t need the sunshine to get outside, puddles and mud are just as much fun!