Often simple is best. I think we, as parents and teachers, tend to over complicate things. We have all the very best intentions for our children and students, but we get bogged down in them.
Children need to explore.
Children need freedom.
Children need time.
Children need space.
Some of our very best mornings have started with a walk to the pond. This always works best when I have nowhere to be. If we are trying to squeeze something like this in I am always stressed and tend to push my kids towards things or away from things. When we have the whole morning, whether we use all of that time or not, I don't feel pressured by a schedule that they don't really understand.
We take our time. I follow their lead. Sometimes they are interested in gross motor and we chase each other. Sometimes they are interested in the trees or flowers so we study those. Sometimes they are lost in their imaginations and they pretend to be characters and the small pond and island become their setting.
Pond Walk by Elizabeth Wallace
Often they are interested in the ducks, geese, and other bird life at our pond. We have observed them several times in the past year we've lived here. Their behavior often provokes questions and thoughts.
Our son has been interested in bugs a lot for the past few months and the pond seemed like a good spot to look for some insects. Before we went, we read POND WALK by Elizabeth Wallace. In the book the bear really want to see a turtle and I like how the messages of taking your time, noticing details, and being patient are described throughout the book. After reading the book, our kids grabbed their bug kits and their journals, put on boots, and we headed to the pond.
We watched the geese...and they watched us. There was a particular interest in the geese's feet that were made more visible through the binoculars.
We tried to catch bugs but they are quick. At least the moths that my son really wants to get a good look at.
We got these Adventure Kids Bug Catcher Kits from a friend and they are a huge hit! I must admit I am a little skiddish around bugs and would not have taken them down this path on my own, but the kits sent them off chasing for bugs and especially our son is hooked. If you don't mind a good view of a squirming insect, the magnification on the bug jars does a good job of getting you a little closer.
And then they drew. They drew the ducks. They drew the water. They drew the tree. They drew a rainbow because in their world there always needs to be a colorful rainbow (possibly so you have an excuse to use every color).
We have continued to enjoy walks and hikes. After a year of scheduling them reguarly they have become an important part of our month and days.
If you are looking for a good resource for time outside or hikes particular, I really recommend The Nature Connection. I used it all year to inspire me and deepen my knowledge and it is a resource we will grow into as our kids become older. It is a great book for inspiring children, families and classrooms to take a closer look at the world we live in as it changes throughout the year.
Whatever they end up exploring, they always hate to leave and they always come home brimming with ideas. All we did was walk to the pond and their world comes alive with new possibilities and wonders.
Where do you like to wander and explore?
For more easy adventures for toddlers and preschoolers, check out our Bambini Field Guide.
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