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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