Each time my kindergarten class and I are outdoors together there is value and great learning going on. I take my kindergartners outside often, to the park, side of the schoolyard, and hiking to the community garden. This fall we:

  • collected nature words for journal time
  • created math patterns with leaves and sticks
  • played
  • sketched
  • explored schoolyard trees (even measuring the circumference of the large cottonwood— which is 36 kindergarten hands!)
Kindergartners sketching outside
Kindergartners sketching outside

These explorations have been instrumental in inquiries around the larger theme of place and our connection to nature, that the students will be studying this year.

Their study of trees and the field trip to the arboretum will be an exciting ways to deepen learning about these larger themes.

While walking to the community gardens to go to our ‘Secret Lilacs,’ students were discussing what they might see, asking questions, formulating theories, and reflecting on the changes that might be evident. I heard:

  • “Do you think the bees froze?”
  • “Do small animals freeze in winter and big animals survive?”
  • “How are birds nests made? What are they made from?”
  • “I bet there will be less leaves on the lilacs and so many colors on the trees. Everything will be so changed.”

The great naturalist Rachel Carson taught that it is more important for a young child to explore and revel in the beauty and wonder of the natural world than to feel obligated to know and tell all one knows about nature.

I hope you get a chance to be outside and to discover and appreciate nature’s gifts with your children this year as they explore their connection to the natural world.

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” – Rachel Carson