Monday, April 16, 2012

Tips for Observing Nature With Small Children

Since we are going to be spending so much time exploring nature, I thought it was important to teach the girls how to observe nature. 

We recently took a trip to a local nature center and had some incredible opportunities for observation. 

We saw turtles and geese and heard frogs and many varieties of birds.

 We were very lucky to have chanced upon the goose in the picture above, who let us watch him for quite awhile before swimming away. Of course, he wouldn't have stayed around for as long if we hadn't been following some simple rules for observing nature.

When relaying these tips to children, you need to tell them why they are following these rules. They are much more likely to be good observers of nature if they know the reasons behind the rules.

Tips for Exploring Nature

1. Be Quiet. This one is absolutely essential. Talking in whispers and quiet voices can sometimes be okay, but other occasions need absolute quiet. Why? Animals, birds, and even insects are naturally afraid of humans. We need to respect them and show them that we won't hurt them. Remaining quiet will help ease the fear.

2. Be Still. Any quick or sudden movements will frighten wildlife. Why? This is the same reason why we remain quiet. We don't want to frighten the animal. Slow, quiet motions are best. Find a spot to sit; it's much easier to stay still while sitting.

3. Stay a safe distance away. As the adult, it's up to you to use your common sense. For the safety of your kids and the wildlife, you need to stay a safe distance away. If you want a closer look, use binoculars. We were observing geese and turtles, both animals that would not harm us if we stayed a safe distance away. Other animals are best observed at zoos or other controlled environments.

4. Use all your senses. Teach the kids to not just use their eyes. Your ears and nose are also important tools to observation. What kind of sounds does the animal make? What do you smell? Observation is more than just seeing.

Observing birds is a great way to teach young children the rules of observing nature. 

Practice observing the different characteristics of the bird. What do they look like? What color is the beak? The head? What kind of noise does the bird make? 

Record the characteristics and then use a bird guide to determine what kind of bird you are looking at. 

Learning to observe nature is an important skill to have because the best way to learn about nature is through observation. What are your best tips for observing nature with young children?

**Many thanks to my mom for providing the two goose pictures.**

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  1. Great tips! Kids aren't naturally still and quiet, but when they see the benefits, they will start to do it on their own. :)

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  3. I am really excited for all of your nature exploration posts! Great tips here :)

  4. Such great tips! My daughter loves watching animals. We have had to keep reminding her that we have to be quiet bc she will get excited and start running and being loud and then loses her chance to observe bc the animals go away bc of the noise. I suppose that is a good lesson for her to learn naturally so the next time she will try to be more cautious. =)

  5. Thanks for the tips, we try to spend a lot of time outdoors. I came across your blog on pinterest & have added it to my rss, I look forward to future posts. :)

  6. Great tips! We like to "close your eyes and listen" sometimes. Seems the less visual stimualtion going on, the better they hear! I follwed you over from For the Kids Friday and my post is here:

  7. Wonderful tips! I love that you added to use your senses! That's so important to remember! Thanks for sharin on the Weekly Kid's Co-op!

  8. Those are terrific tips. Too often we want to rush through the natural environment but taking a minute to stop and use all our senses is such a good thing!

  9. Nature walks are my favorite. I love your suggestions!

  10. That's a great list. I think using all of your senses is an important one to remember and one that's probably often forgotten :)

  11. I think just the idea of giving children time to listen and watch is a gift! Magical.

  12. Every time I look at that last photo I think it is my daughters. We had a jacket just like that and my daughter has that same bright blond hair. So cute. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with all of us!


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