The snow is gone. The birds are singing. Spring is here! After a long winter, families are eager to get out and enjoy nature. There are many new titles this season that can teach you and your child about the world around us.
Nature Crafts for Children by Clare Youngs
The projects in this book are inspired by nature. All the materials require can be found while exploring your own neighbourhood: sticks, rocks, weeds; it is inspiring to see how a simple thing like a leaf can be transformed into a work of art. My six-year-old and I had a great afternoon picking out different sized pinecones. There are a variety of crafts that are a good fit for younger ages, as well as more detailed projects for older kids. Some crafts are as simple as painting rocks, other crafts such as the palm leaf bowl require more complex fine motor skills. My six-year-old chose to make pinecone ‘creatures’ that were simple to create; we only needed pinecones, leaves, some sticks and a whole lot of glue (see a photo of the finished product below).
The Children’s Book of Birdwatching by Dan Rouse
This guide will teach you about the different birds you might see in your backyard. From common robins to rare breeds, you will learn how to attract different varieties of birds. There is a section on what song birds eat and how to grow it. For example, snapdragons attract insects that birds like to eat, while offering a source of nectar as well. There are also tips on how to use different materials for nesting. My child and I had a great time turning an old teapot into a birdhouse.
The Book of Nature Connection by Jacob Rodenburg
There is so much to discover about the world around us. We are used to seeing nature but how often do we stop to smell, touch or listen to the outdoors? This book contains activities to encourage the use of all five senses to connect with nature. A windy day can create a choir of trees to sing. Rustling leaves will sound differently depending on the type of the tree. Listening closely to these sounds can help you identify a type of tree just by the sound of the leaves. Every season has its own distinct scent. Freshly cut grass in the summer smells much differently than new growing grass in the spring. Keeping a scent chart will make you appreciate just how much scents change based on the time of year. This book is designed to be used by children or adults. I certainly learned much more than I thought by stopping to consider the different textures, sounds and smells in my own backyard.
More than just books – this kit contains field guides for local wildflowers, butterflies, birds and caterpillars, as well as a set of binoculars to get a closer look at all nature has to offer. When I checked this out, I thought it was the perfect learning opportunity to teach my six-year-old about all the wildlife in our area. She’ll learn how to use binoculars. She’ll learn proper bird names. She’ll learn how to tell the difference between weeds and plants. Great! Well, thirty seconds after she got the binoculars on, I turn around to hear: “Hey Mommy, I can see your BUTT!” Which was of course followed by hysterical giggles. No amount of coaxing could get her to focus on anything else. I guess birds can’t compete with the fascination of my magnified derriere. But don’t let my story deter you, Explore Nature Kits are a great way to get your kids outdoors.