It’s amazing the number of educational objectives across the entire curriculum that can be addressed during a nature hike. Not only is it a wonderful way to bond, relax, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors, but a myriad of concepts can be introduced, explored and reinforced through this daily routine.
To more intentionally incorporate learning opportunities into our hikes, I made a list of early childhood objectives from our state’s Model Curriculum that could clearly be included during this time. Sometimes we head out with a specific objective in mind, and other times I look for ways to weave in the content spontaneously. Check out our list here: Nature Hike Indicators
I found these awesome blank board books at Romp and immediately had a million ideas for them. One fun and simple project was a counting book starring my little guy. I rounded up 10 sets of items, set up a couple of posing areas, and we were off. After our photoshoot I added numbers and cropped the photos and printed them on photo paper. I trimmed the photos, glued them to the book pages, and covered them with press-on lamination film.
Since then we’ve made a color book using favorite items and a bedtime routine book. Now that my daughter is a toddler, I think I’ll pull together a book about all of her family members, and another featuring pictures of her, maybe a version of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
We included a shaded sandbox play area in our garden plan to give the kids something nearby to do when they tired of helping with garden chores. This was especially helpful when E was in his 2-year-old wandering phase as the garden is also fenced. Now E spends countless hours in his sandbox whether I’m in the garden or not. Recently one of his favorite activities has been playing restaurant and making “smoothies” and other concoctions to serve me as I work.
When I saw this post: Creating a Mudpie Kitchen on “Rhythm of the Home” I knew it was right up his alley. Before long, we had whipped up this arrangement, and we continue to look for more accessories (thrift store dishes, empty spice containers) as we go. Since the play area also runs alongside the chicken run, it also makes a great spot for a chicken drive-through. “Would you like some wild strawberries or chickweed with those grubs?”