Every child is a scientist in the making. Your young one may not grow up to pursue a career in biology or zoology, but scientific discovery and learning are accomplished daily as your child plays in and interacts with all of nature and the great outdoors.
Through tactile exploration, new information is acquired and tested. Sights, sounds, smells, even tastes found outdoors give children the opportunity to be a scout, an investigator, an inspector, and an examiner of all of the oh-so-interesting discoveries that make up a child’s world. To experience once again the excitement of uncovering such marvelous wonders, look at the world through the eyes of your budding scientist.
A Kids-Eye View
It may seem simplistic, but sometimes just getting down to your child’s level will open your eyes to a new and interesting perspective. When you see a raccoon, your toddler may see a large masked beast that stands on its hind legs and hisses. You may walk through a meadow of clover without even looking down, but your child may see fascinating caterpillars dining on the leaves, buzzing honey bees on the flowers, even silent quail searching for insects at the edge of the field. Turn over low-growing leaves to find a chrysalis or collection of ladybug eggs. It’s a whole different world when you see things through your child’s eyes.
Experience the Squishy Stuff
Part of joining your pint-sized scientist in the fun of learning is getting into the squishy stuff. Dig in the dirt to discover earthworms, centipedes, and maybe even a toad keeping cool away from the hot sunshine. Use your hands to catch water bugs or minnows in a pond. Scoop out a piece of algae and see how it feels. Dig out beach sand and feel the scurrying of sand crabs in your hands. Find a shell with a hole in it, then hang it around your neck on a piece of string. Examine all your marvelous discoveries and talk about what you see. Then play in the mud, just for fun.
Try Something New
Climb a tree. Walk along a fallen log. Catch fireflies in a jar, then turn them loose into the dark sky. Fill a pan with water and find out which things float and which things sink. Walk barefoot. Use the slide at a playground to find out which things will slide the fastest. Try a pinecone, a rock or a seed pod. Lay on a blanket and look for shapes in the clouds. Being outside is healthy for both of you, and spending time with your child is the best thing of all.