Fostering Nature Appreciation in Children
For some kids, it may be instinct to get out and explore nature. However, in the age of video games and computer technology, the same cannot be said for all children. Some kids hardly play outside, let alone learn to love and appreciate nature. Fortunately, with creativity you can teach even the most unaware and unwilling kids to love nature. Generally, once they get out there and start enjoying it in various ways, it comes naturally.
Visit a Nature Reserve
Nature reserves can hold some of the most captivating wildlife scenery, especially to young minds. They often have a large amount of different plants and animals. Also, they are designed especially for the purpose of preserving and appreciating nature. Nature reserves can offer uniquely creative programs, tours, and classes you won't find anywhere else. One way to find a nature reserve in your area is to visit the Nature Conservancy at Nature.org. You also may want to check your local parks and recreation department.
Gardening is an activity that will allow kids to observe nature from start to finish. This makes an excellent candidate for creatively teaching a child to love nature. Many kids will enjoy various aspects of preparing, planting, observing, and (where necessary) harvesting a garden. Some great starter plants for kids include bean plants, sunflowers, bulb plants, and sprouted plants. Allow the kids to be creative and design the arrangement of plants. Also consider getting the kids involved in the community by creating bucket gardens for the hungry or homeless.
Family Nature Night
Ever thought of dedicating a special night just to nature? Holding a family nature night is one way to instill the love of nature. It also can create some great family bonding time and memories. Various activities can be done during family nature night, such as star gazing, bird watching, insect observing, nature crafts, gardening, and so much more. Nature crafts can be anything from bird and squirrel feeders to collages, handcrafted jewelry, and wreaths. Since it's about nature appreciation, be sure to stick to all natural and eco-friendly crafting. To take this a step further, consider making it a regular habit.
Last updated 2/17/2022
One way to appreciate nature or enforce previous nature appreciation lessons is to have a family nature night. Whether your family members are nature gurus or just getting started, this can be a fun activity. Adults and kids of all ages can participate in some or all ways.
Natural Observation & Sample Collection
When you have a family nature night, kids and adults can collect samples from nature to examine, talk about and treasure. These can be things like fallen leaves, pine cones, flower petals and more. Just be sure to choose only fallen items, as you're there to observe and enjoy nature, not destroy it. Insects, frogs, lizards and other small creatures are great to observe in their natural environments as well. Night time may reveal things you didn't see during the day. A nature scavenger hunt is one fun way to enjoy the item collection (leave animals and insects out of this part).
Depending on the season, some garden fun with the right plants can be a great addition to a family nature night. Pick out seeds or transplants ahead of time. You might even consider making small container vegetable gardens to donate to the homeless. Plant them in a bucket with irrigation holes at the bottom to create a sustainable food source that's also portable.If you're unable to plant outdoors, you can still use pots and plant indoors.
Photos can help create lasting memories, as well as beautiful displays. Take pictures of the family enjoying nature, as well as pictures of the nature itself. Nature pictures can be used later to create albums, posters, computer screensavers, puzzles, collages, other art projects, and so much more.
Speaking of collages, how about making a natural one? Compile collected items from nature, like leaves, dried flowers, small nuts and more. The items can be glued to recycled poster board or cardboard. Homemade glue using just flour and water works very well for this. The consistency should be thick, but not enough that it looks like dough. It takes a while to dry, but holds well afterward. The creation can then be placed in a poster-size collage frame to accent any room in the house.
Sky gazing is another excellent way to enjoy family nature night. Lie out on the lawn on blankets or beach towels. Stare up at the sky and discuss what you see. This could be the stars, moon, cloud shapes, birds, dragonflies, tall trees, etc.
Before or after the sky gazing, everyone can close their eyes and just listen to nature. Suggest a certain amount of time for everyone to be completely quiet and just listen. When that time is up, the family can talk about what they heard, where the sounds may have come from, and what or who may have made them. This is a good activity to end family nature night with, as it is relaxing and will get everyone in the calm mode shortly before bedtime.
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