Getting children outside to experience and learn from nature doesn’t take a lot of tools or preparation…it doesn’t even take a lot of nature. It mostly takes time, questions and a willingness to get a little messy.
What shouldn’t stop you is not having the answers. If you can answer the questions they ask, that is great. If not, that is more then ok too. You can tell them you don’t know and observe together, make a guess and then think about where you could go to find the answer. Just getting them outside and looking and thinking about what they see lays a foundation of science knowledge that I would argue is as critical as having the “right” answer.
Below are images from around our very suburban neighborhood that my 3 year old, 5 month old and I explored the other day. This nature walk can be adjusted/replicated anywhere you can find a patch of grass, or a tree or some clear sky.
If you want to brush up on types of questions you can ask, look for information about questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. I found one good link here but I’m sure there are many others!
Woah! What is that? What happened to it? Do you think something ate it? Is it starting to rot? What do you think it would look like if we came back in a month?
Look at all these lines! What do you think they are from? What happened to this branch, why is it off the tree? What do you think is under it? What is that next to it? Do you know what a pinecone’s job is? Why are some leaves green and some brown?
What is that! Did an animal make it? What is it used for? Does it look like someplace you might want to live? If you could design a house for an animal, what would you make?
Look at that, what shape is it? What does it look like it is made of? How is it clinging to the branch? What do you think lives there? Do you think that when we are out in nature we should touch/take things we find or just look? Why?
What do you think this is? How big is it? What color is it? What else can you describe about it? Where is it growing? Are there any other plants that are similar? What is that behind it? How could we find out what it is?