How can you cultivate learning in the great outdoors? This is the final segment of our Cultivating Learning in Everyday Activities series. Check out Learning in the Kitchen, and Learning in the Laundry & Other Rooms for further inspiration.
1. Take a walk together and discuss seasons, the growth cycle of plants, recognize the different types of plants, leaves, flowers – all of which are beautiful means of exploring nature and science.
My cousin, Amy, adds: I count exercise as one of my daily to dos, and the kids learn a lot when we go on walks. We have fun talking about the seasons, if it’s winter or spring we look at buds on plants and talk about them, in fall we talk about how chlorophyll makes leaves green, and why they change color. We try to spot birds, etc. And of course we get books from the library on all these topics. They also like to collect nature items, which can be used to beautify the home, or can be used to make creative crafts!
Karis and I love to sit at the end of our driveway and count the cars that drive past. We count them by color, by vehicle type, and whatever other fun ways we can think of. I remember taking road trips growing up and playing games with my siblings of going through the alphabet by finding letters in license plates. We would also try to find every states license plate. These provided fun learning while on the road, but could also be done while sitting at the end of our driveway as Karis gets older.
2. Garage Sale - Autumn suggested: Give kids a table of things to sell (food items or small toys). Teach money recognition, counting, etc. Who can resist a cute little child selling some goodies?
Michele shares: We enjoy gardening as a family to supply us with fresh produce, and this allows us to teach some interesting science concepts (such as decomposition, plant growth, and the water cycle/weather). As we start seeds, prepare the soil, and nurture our vermicomposting system, Gen does all these gardening tasks right alongside us. Here is a post about “educational” gardening with her when she was two-years-old.
4. Grocery store
Kat shares: My 5 year old always goes with me to the grocery store and we do lots of stuff there. We discuss the different kinds of produce, where they come from, how much they weigh and cost and I let her press the numbers for the little produce price stickers (which, I guess, is more fun than educational now that she’s older). I also show her how to pick out good produce.
Michele shares: We also work on this (identifying numbers and letters) while at the grocery store, and have begun adding in the concept of money (recognizing coins). As I make out my grocery list, she often gets her own scrap of paper and pen to practice making “her own list” (writing out letters we’ve been learning or drawing pictures).
Many of the ideas shared in this series where inspired from these two volumes:
Mommy, Teach Me!: Preparing Your Preschooler for A Lifetime of Learning by Barbara Curtis – an excellent volume of ideas, games, and learning activities from a Montessori mommy of 11 children. Highly recommend it!
Montessori Play & Learn: A Parent’s Guide to Purposeful Play for Two to Six by Leslie Britton – This volume is a wonderful collection of ideas for incorporating learning into your normal routine and help supplement preschool learning for your child. For planning your home, introducing your child to the supermarket or the neighborhood, and helping him discover other people and cultures, this book provides valuable tips and insights that help parents and children grow and learn together.