Summer Is Here!

Providing meaningful activities for your children that foster a continued love of learning, natural curiosity, and building a variety of skills only requires creativity, perhaps a few around-the-house materials, and plenty of time to allow your children the freedom to explore. School may be out, but your child is still discovering how wonderful and curious is the world around them. I've collected just a few ideas that are simple but at the same time, provide a powerful impact on a child's thinking and skills. Today, we utilize the natural resources nature provides!

FUN WITH NATURE

These activities require very little extra material other than what is outside for your child to discover. Whether it be in your own backyard, on a walk around the neighborhood, or exploring a local park, invite your kiddo to collect any objects from nature to do one or all of the following activities.

Nature Photo Collage

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For this activity, I used a frame from a local dollar store (and it was actually $1). Turn the example "photograph" around in the frame so you have a solid white background. After your child picks the flowers or other plants, put them between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and set a stack of books (or other heavy objects) on top to press the flowers. After about 2 days, they should be pressed and ready. Together, carefully position the flowers on the inside glass of the frame. This requires your child to use his concentration and focus skills, along with fine motor skills as he arranges the flowers with tiny movements so as not to break the dry fauna. For added creative fun, you can encourage your child to decorate the white background with markers or crayons or paint before adding it on top of the fauna, and then attaching the back of the photo frame.

Categorizing Nature

Again, you can do this activity in any location that is outdoors. Invite your child to collect things from nature in a basket, box, or bag...whatever you have available. Afterwards, you can discuss all the different items found outside in nature and ask her where she thinks the items came from. Depending on the resources you have available for her to collect, you can provide her with different baskets or boxes labeled with a category. For example: trees, bushes, ground/grass. Encourage her to sort the items in the box she thinks it belongs (leaves, berries, and flowers from bushes; rocks, wood chips, clover, flowers, grass from ground; pecans, acorns, leaves, buds, bark, twigs from trees). Afterwards, she can create a collage by gluing the items on a piece of paper. These activities build on her categorizing and discrimination skills, along with fine motor control.

Floral Arrangements

Not all locations provide your child with the possibilities of different wild flowers, but if you find yourself fortunate enough, allow your child to pick flowers to bring home and arrange in a mason jar or other dispensable 'vase'. You can find these kinds of jars at your local $1 store. Before they arrange the flowers, you can invite them to decorate the vase with stickers and a ribbon. Teach him how to trim the bottom of the stems and allow him to try on his own with safe scissors. You can even discuss the life cycle of flowers, and how once they are picked, they do not survive long because they no longer have roots to give them the water and nutrients they need.