Child’s play: learning about nature

Garden Making

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We know a six-year-old girl who along with her three-year-old brother have discovered a lot about nature this summer. Because of the pandemic, many families have been spending more time at home. We’ve enjoyed hearing about their times outdoors, planting seeds and seedlings for tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley, and other herbs and vegetables.. Then, they spotted a caterpillar on the parsley. A few weeks later, the caterpillar had disappeared, but the kids discovered the caterpillar had moved to a gap in the house bricks. It was now a chrysalid, the hard outer case protecting the egg that, if it survives a Canadian winter, should emerge next spring as a butterfly.

The ambition of authors Monica Wiedel-Lubinski and Karen Madigan is to encourage more families to get outdoors so children can discover that nature is fun. In Nature Play Workshop for Families, they’ve provided a practical guide to 40+ outdoor learning experiences in all seasons to spark a connection to nature vital for children’s healthy growth and development.

When children plug into electronics, they can get disconnected from direct experiences with nature. The book uses beautiful photography and simple lists to provide visual suggestions of tangible approaches to nature-based learning and play, and ideas for hands’-on projects using natural materials. Inspired by nature preschools, forest kindergartens and forest school models the world over, this guide also includes advice from experienced nature-based educators, too.

Examples of nature-based child experiences in the book include:

  • Wildlife observation and tracking
  • Nature sounds, songs and poetry
  • Gardening and cooking with wild edibles
  • Printmaking, charcoal drawing, dyeing and shadow play
  • Journaling inspired by nature

Monica Wiedel-Lubinski has two decades of leadership in nature-based education. At the Irvine Nature Center outside Baltimore, Maryland, she was the founding director of The Nature Preschool. Karen Madigan is an educator at Irvine Nature Center who has worked closely with children, families and fellow educators for more than 25 years.

Get the Nature Play Workshop for Families book

Nature Play Workshop for Families: A Guide to 40+ Outdoor Learning Experiences in All Seasons is published by Quarry Books; 144 pages; C$29.99; ISBN: 9781631598685 [When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.]

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