Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Naturalist Connections: It's a Jungle Out There!

  With the weather warming up and the kids getting out of school soon, what is a parent to do when your child utters those infamous words "I'm bored"? I thought a good way to spend the summer on this blog would be to turn our attention to helping parents or any extended family member that may be caring for your kids over the summer, with creative ways to entertain the troops. I am the oldest of four children in my family and the youngest sibling is 17 years younger than me. Yes, I have heard those words over and over and over... well, you get my point.
  One of the things I used to do when my younger brother and sisters were growing up was to make sure that I had a stash of art supplies and other things that might come in handy. Some advice I can give you is to fall in love with the dollar store to stock up on "things-to-do" items, be patient, and be flexible. Sometimes it might take an hour or two out of your day just to help them get their imaginations fired up and out of the "I'm bored" syndrome. 
  One activity I enjoyed a lot as a kid was taking a nature hike. Now, you can do the same with your child and make it an enjoyable activity. Here are some things to do on your nature walk:
  • Pick up leaves or flowers (non-poisonous!) that you can bring home to press between the pages of your favorite books.
  • Look under rocks for salamanders or other lizards, up in the trees for birds, and on the ground for animals in their natural habitat. Use your digital camera to take pictures. 
  • Listen to the natural sounds in the area. Ask your child to describe them to you. Are any noises man-made? What birds are making the songs that you hear? Is there a wind causing some of the sound? 
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Things to do once you get home from your nature hike:
  • Download and print some of the pictures from your digital camera. Have your child make captions or create a story to go with the pictures.
  • Take some of the treasures from the hike and help them make a scrapbook. Look up the items in a field guide or online to teach them a little bit more about their treasures. 
  • Use the photos and encourage them to create a new plant or animal that has never been seen before but might live in the area you visited. What's the name of the new discovery? What does it look like? How does it behave? 
  • If your child has an instrument or if there is a piano, have them recreate the sounds they heard on the hike. 
  I am sure there are many more things you can do on a nature hike than I have listed here. So don't throw your arms up in the air when your kids are bored. Come back for an occasional visit to my blog just to get started! Sometimes the simplest activities are the most rewarding!

~From Amanda @LearningConnections