Fun Scientific and Beneficial Experiences Provided by Nature for Kids

 

nature experiences

Last Saturday, my family and I were scheduled to take a day trip to a farm but the forecast called for rain. I decided an alternative trip would be a nature walk near our home. My son was so excited because he could wear his rain boots and splash in puddles! He experienced this and so much more!

While we were walking, I thought about the benefits of being in nature. Here is what I found…

Hands-on Science Lesson

One day, we watched the cartoon, Sid the Science Kid, and learned about the four life cycle stages of a frog. The first stage is the tiny frog eggs laid by a female frog. Then the eggs turn into tadpoles. The tadpoles start to develop front and back legs which is the froglet stage. The last stage is the adult frog, which is when the tail leaves and he is ready to live on land.

During our nature walks, we experienced two stages of this life cycle. We saw masses of tadpoles swimming in a pond.  My husband was able to catch tadpoles with a net and we observed them. My son was brave enough to touch the tadpoles and comment on their slimy skin.

About two weeks later, the tadpoles turned into hopping little frogs. We caught about 8 frogs to examine them for a brief moment before we let them go. It was an amazing sight.

Physical Activity

On our way to the nature trail, we saw squirrels and birds. As soon as my son saw them, he chased the animals and burned off tons of energy. Once we saw puddles, I switched his shoes from sneakers to rain boots and he jumped in the middle of them. His hands sloshed in the water as he examined the colors and depth. On the trail we detected rocks embedded in the ground and we dug them out. My son threw the rocks in the water and watched the circular ripples form. The walk itself was a great physical exercise for the body.

Social

We saw other families with children walking their dogs and runners. We greeted each other and sometimes had mini conversations. My son ran behind some of the runners and wanted us to join him. There were two older boys, riding their bikes, who saw us looking down and wanted to know what we were searching for. We told them we were catching frogs and saw turtles in the pond. They joined us by catching little frogs which allowed us more observational opportunities.

Use of tools

Whenever we go on a nature walk, I take scientific tools to provide a better experience. My son or I will carry kid size binoculars around our necks to observe squirrels and birds in trees. We also use it to watch turtles on branches in the pond. I keep a magnifying glass in my bag to closely view bugs, frogs, rocks, plants, flowers, pinecones, and leaves. As mentioned before, my husband will catch bugs and frogs in a net and put them in a jar for my son to examine. The most important tool, in my opinion, are hands. My son used his hands to touch and feel the treasures he found in nature. He was able to communicate whether the item was smooth, bumpy, slimy, rough, etc.

Cost

Taking a walk outside your home and being exposed to nature is free. Most parks with nature trails are complimentary also.  Take advantage of the natural lessons that God has provided. You can’t beat a day full of adventure at no cost!

I knew our trip was successful when my son said “That was a fun day!”

Happy Exploring!

 

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One Way I Sparked my Son’s Interest in Geography

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what on your plate

We live in a very diverse area near people from various countries. I love talking to our neighbors about their culture, food, language, and upbringing. My son loves to eat and always wants to know how food will benefit him. For example, he knows that chicken and eggs will help him build muscle. When I saw the book, What’s On Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, I thought he would be interested in reading it.

This book highlights countries such as Mexico, Ethiopia, China, and Greece, and gives the reader information on their locations, foods frequently eaten, and recipes. The enticing food pictures in this book will make you hungry.

My son connected with this book instantly. First, he learned that he eats similar foods to people all over the world. Moroccans eat grapes and oranges which are two of his favorite foods. He eats rice, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese like the Italians.

As we were reading the book, we had the globe beside us. We stopped on each page, identified the country, its food, and located it on the globe. I saw my son perk up because he saw these countries were located far away in various continents, yet one similarity was food.

Read this book with your child and learn about food all over the world!

Other ways to make connections with this book…

  • Make the recipes in the book
  • Eat Ethnic foods – Go to an Indian, Ethiopian, or Mexican Restaurant
  • Talk to people from other countries and compare what you have learned in this book.

Happy Exploring!

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Spark Children’s Interest in Geography at an Early Age

GEOGRAPHY FOR KIDS-2

When I was in high school, I took a Geography class. I did not like this class at all. At the time, I didn’t understand why I had to learn about other countries. I remember studying for this class was difficult because the subject did not interest me.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I wanted to learn about the world outside of the United States.  It was a time that enabled me to interact and live with people from all over the world. My first time on an airplane was during my college years. I went to Dominican Republic for a Community Service Project. After this trip, I traveled to Costa Rica, England, and Ireland for service and study abroad opportunities.  It was these experiences that made me want to go back in time and study Geography again. Through my travel, I developed relationships with people across the world.

So how do you spark a child’s interest in Geography?

YOU MAKE A CONNECTION! Specifically, make a connection that coincides with the child’s interest.

Below are fun ways to create connections between your children/students and the world! You will need a map or globe for the activities below…

For the child who loves animals

My son loves animals. We learn about how and where various animals live around the world. We’ve been able to learn about the continents through his love of animals. Make it fun and search for where the 10 fastest animals in the world live!

For the child who loves sports

You and your child can explore Unusual Sports played around the world.  For example, toe wrestling is played in Britain. In this game, competitors intertwine their toes and try to pin their opponents’ foot down. Find out which continent has the most unusual sports!

For the child who wants to be a Princess

You and the child can meet Princesses from around the world. Search for Princesses in Belgium, Germany, England, Monaco, and Liechtenstein. Have your child choose their favorite princess!

For the child who has friends from other countries or cultures

Locate on a globe or map where your child’s friends and their families were born. Find out about their culture, food, land features, and language. Try cooking the country’s food with your family.

Next week’s post will be about how my son and I learned another fun lesson in Geography.

Stay Tuned!

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Fun Activities that Teach Kids about Indoor Air Pollution

PRACTICALINDOORPOLLUTIONACTIVITIESFOR KIDS-2

Indoor air pollution can cause sneezing, scratchy throats, headaches, and watery eyes. One solution to this problem is plants, which decreases indoor air pollution within a room. Certain plants make the air healthier to breathe.

I was watching the cartoon, Cyberchase- Indoor Air Pollution Episode, with my son and learned these facts. This cartoon episode features Norm, the Gnome, explaining how new paint and furniture can cause air pollution. View Norm’s explanation in this video. 

We also learned more plants are needed for a larger room. Larger rooms carry more air pollution; therefore, more plants are needed to purify the air. How do you determine the number of plants needed for a room? The cartoon characters counted tiles in a room to answer this question.  Watch this video to see how it’s done. (select How Many Plants Per Room?)

How could you determine the number of plants needed if you don’t have tiles in a room? The answer is estimation. Watch how the characters estimate a room size, using previous knowledge. (select Estimating Room Size).

You can apply this within your classroom or at home.

How we applied this lesson in our home…

  1. Compiled a list of air purifying plants.
    • It is best to compare various lists.
  2. Research how to care for the plants you choose
    • Read books
    • Watch YouTube videos
    • Ask the plant experts at the store where you made your purchase
  3. Used estimation to determine the number of plants needed.
  4. Purchased the plants and materials to care for them.
  5. Care for the plants.

My family and I enjoy caring for the plants and the benefits of air purification. I have experienced a difference of air quality in our home. Try it out!

Happy Indoor Gardening!

Get the password for the library with Tips and Tools for Accelerated and Fun Learning for kids by completing this form. Once you press the SUBSCRIBE button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

 

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Unintentional, But My Toddler Started Reading at 21 Months – Here’s How

HOW I TAUGHT MY TODDLER TO READ AT 21 MONTHS THROUGH PLAY

While I was three months pregnant, I had lunch with a former co-worker, Cyndi. Cyndi just viewed a PBS special where Dr. Ben Carson discussed Brain Health. In this video (at 8:50), Dr. Carson says a baby’s brain continues to develop once he/she is born. The more a baby learns, the more the brain’s dendrites are making connections.

Babies who experience interaction with caregivers through song, cuddling, playing, and talking, develop connections in the brain faster and better. By the time a child is three years old, their brain has reached 90% of its growth.

I thought PLAY would be the best way to interact with my son and boost his brain development. I never imagined this concept would lead to him reading at 21 months!

Please note: I did the activities below with my son as a full-time working mom.

I used in-depth learning to teach my son. In-Depth learning is being exposed to a concept in various ways. I concentrated on teaching my son through three of the five senses which were sight, touch, and hearing. Dr. Ben Carson addresses In-Depth learning in his book Think Big.

*Bonus Tip

Access my list of Fun and Creative Tools Used to     Encourage My Son to Read at the bottom of this post!

Below are examples of what my son and I did….

SING

I sung constantly to my son. It became something that soothed him. I sung when he woke up in the middle of the night, in the car, and while feeding and changing him. Songs taught my son language. They also helped him to learn the alphabet and phonics. I took it a step further and created songs about words that began with each letter of the alphabet.

Read

I love going to the library with my son because of the programs, toys, puzzles and books. Before leaving the library, I always checked out at least 15 children books. I ensured at least one of the books was about the alphabet. There are zillions of books at the library about the ABC’s. He was able to see the same words I sung in songs within these books.

PLAY, PLAY, PLAY

I enjoyed coming home from work to play with my child. It seemed like a break from sitting and looking at a computer all day. We played with toys such as play doh and alphabet blocks. Before he could talk, we molded the playdoh into letters. We drew pictures on the storm door with window markers in alphabetical order. For example, we drew an apple for A and banana for B. On our way to the playground in the evenings and weekends, we identified letters on car license plates and signs.

Talk

Talking is a great way to increase a child’s focus. We discussed stories we read in books. We also made up stories about the alphabet and various animals. Whenever we were in the grocery store, I identified foods and the letter they started with. It is important to converse with your child on various topics!

Technology

Once my son could identify letters, I let him watch cartoons that featured the alphabet, phonics, and words. Leapfrog has a great series of educational cartoons. We also listened to toddler radio and hip-hop educational CDs in the car.

Put it Together

Once he knew the phonics, I taught him how to blend letter sounds to read words.  Many words, including sight words, were becoming familiar to him through exposure to books, children museums, YouTube, the library, cartoons, and anywhere we went. He heard words through our conversations, songs, radio, and television. His brain started making connections and then he started reading. He has also developed a true love of reading.

Similar concepts were also used to teach him to

  • write
  • count
  • identify colors
  • Spanish words
  • Tell Time

Last but not least, here is a quick video of my toddler reading a book called Big Words for Little Geniuses by Susan and James Patterson

Happy PLAYFUL In-Depth Learning!

Don’t forget to Sign Up for our FREE course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Get the password for the library with the list of Fun and Creative Tools Used to Encourage my Son to Read here by completing this form. Once you press the GET MY FREE TOOLS NOW button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

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Teaching Kids to Solve Problems

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TEACH KIDS TO HOW TO SOLVE PROBLEMSWITH THIS BOOK

When my son was two years old, he and I read the book, The Question Song by Kaethe Zemach. This book teaches kids to solve everyday problems. My son found it interesting because it contains repetition, rhythm, and rhyming words.

One Scenario in the book reads…

“My train is broken! What are we going to do? My train is broken! What are we going to do?”

“We’ll fix your train and make it strong. Then off you go, chugging along! That’s what we will do!”

The book shows a picture of a little boy holding a wheel that is detached from his train. Then the boy and his mother fix the train with a hammer and nail.

The book also addresses other problems such as injuries and selfishness. As a teacher or a parent, you can incorporate these principals at home or in the classroom. Below is an example of the time I applied this concept with my son.

One day, my son spilled milk on his shirt. Instead of cleaning the milk and getting another shirt immediately, the following happened…

ME: What are we going to do?

MY SON: My shirt is wet.

ME:  Should we leave the shirt on?

MY SON: We should take it off. (We took off the shirt.)

ME: What should we do now?

MY SON: (Looks confused)

ME: Let’s go to your room and get another…

MY SON: Shirt!  (We put on the shirt and went to where the milk was spilled.)

ME: We have a problem, there is milk on the floor. What are we going to do?

MY SON:  We will clean it up!

ME: What do we need to clean the milk?

MY SON: A Towel! (We used a towel dampened with water to clean the milk up.)

This helps kids learn to think and solve problems. Next time your child or students have a problem, ask them “What are you going to do?” Allow them to think and solve the problem. The more they practice, the better they will become.

Happy Problem Solving!!!!

Get the password for the library with Tips and Tools for Accelerated and Fun Learning for kids by completing this form. Once you press the SUBSCRIBE button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

 

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