Learning about nature and animals can help broaden children’s knowledge about the natural world and is a great way of helping develop their early childhood education. Here are some practical ways in which you can help your child learn about nature and animals.
Learning About Birds
Garden birds can be a great source of inspiration and learning for children. You can feed them, watch them building nests, listen to birdsong, see them flying outside and spot the different types of birds. If you have a garden or balcony, you can put bird seed or nuts out for the birds and watch them feeding, but even without a garden of your own, you can still see birds when you’re out and about.
Although young children might be aware of birds from books or games, it’s good to help them get to know more about different birds and their characteristics. To help with learning about birds you could draw up a simple chart or graph so together you can record details of the different birds you see. If you can’t get up close to them, binoculars can help get a closer look.
If your child enjoys drawing, then drawing the different types of birds can be fun and you can put the pictures up at home, on a notice board or on the walls, to remind them of the different birds they’ve seen.
Learning About Farm Animals
Lots of children’s books and television programmes feature farm animals and most young children learn the basic different types of animals found on a farm, such as cows, sheep, chickens and pigs. But all too often, especially if you don’t live in the countryside, young children don’t come into actual contact with farm animals.
This is where farm visits come into their own. Visiting a farm, whether a specialised city farm or a farm in the country, is a great way of broadening your child’s knowledge of different animals and of seeing nature in action. There are many farms throughout the UK that open to the public, especially during key times of the year, such as in the spring during the lambing season, and they welcome visits from families with children.
You can typically get to see the animals in the natural environment, watch cows being milked, see chickens and chicks, and sometimes even get to touch or hold animals up close. Seeing nature and animals first hand helps accentuate the learning experience – children will remember more about something if they’ve had a good personal experience of it that they can link to in their memory.
As well as farm animals, the same ideas can be applied to zoo animals.
Learning About Nature
Getting out and about and exploring nature is a good way of spending quality time with your child, but it can significantly enhance their learning too.
If you’re going out for a walk, try and pick an area where there are trees, bushes, flowers or other forms of natural beauty (although you can be in a park or in a wood, in the country or in the city, and still gain benefits). Make the walk more fun by incorporating games into your day – for example, looking for different types of leaves, spotting different flowers, looking for signs of animals or picking up feathers.
The learning experience can continue back at home, where you could put together a nature journal together, writing or drawing about what you did and saw or sticking in the different leaves or feathers. Together you could examine the leaves you found and try and identify the different trees they came from, or you could explore what types of animals typically live in that environment.
Nature is all around us and it’s good to keep it in mind when you’re planning activities with children. Young children are so keen on learning and there are learning experiences involved in almost every thing they do, so make use of the opportunities and help build your child’s early learning experience.