Exploring Nature in the Classroom
Learning about nature encourages children to grow up fascinated with the natural world. Kids who love nature become adults who are ecological advocates, armed with knowledge and respect to preserve and protect our planet. Incorporate nature into regular routines with activities and exploration adventures! The Moshi Exploring Nature playlist is a fun and engaging way to connect nature, storytelling and music for your classroom. In this playlist, you’ll find Moshi Stories, Meditations, Sounds and Music.
Creature of the Month
Assigning a creature each month as a theme is a brilliant way to engage kids with nature from all over the world. Allow students to choose which aspect they want to study and present to the rest of the class, making this an active and interactive learning experience with connections to science, ELA, math, and social studies. Explore the elephant, understand the urchin, learn about the lemur, be fascinated by the fox, investigate the iguana, and comprehend the capybara!
Feed Feathered Friends
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with birdlife nearby, some window bird feeders are an excellent way to observe birds in their natural habitat and experience close-up learning without disturbing them. For example, which types of seeds do different species of birds seem to like best? What birds are the most frequent visitors to the feeders? Maybe you have other wildlife, like squirrels or chipmunks, who also get in on the action!
All you need is a clear jar, some earthworms, moist garden soil, and black paper. Wrap the jar in the black paper for a few days and keep it in a cool spot in the classroom. When the paper is removed, children can examine the tunnels worms build and learn about a whole new world underground!
Show and Tell
Have children bring in a sample of something from the natural world. Beforehand, have a discussion with kids to be sure they understand when it’s okay for something to be taken or moved ( a fallen leaf, a pinecone) and when things should be left alone (a flower they don’t have permission to pick, a frog in a stream!). Children can take turns sharing what they have found out about the object and pass the object around for the class to have a tactile experience. Ask questions such as: Why is this stone smooth while others are sharp? Why does this plant have flowers? What environment is this shell suited to?
Nature Resources for the Teachers
The Nature Conservancy has lessons and hands-on activities through their Nature Lab for upper elementary grades. An amazing toolbox of resources about trees, forests, ecosystems, and climate change is available through The Forest Service education section. Kids Gardening is a fantastic resource to get kids excited about gardening and growing things. The World Wildlife Fund also has a range of educational resources. The National Geographic Society does as well, including the Explorer Classroom. In these interactive sessions, kids explore topics with some of the world’s most amazing ecologists, like marine biologist Roxanne Beltran (tracking and monitoring elephant seals, helping unlock new information about the species), astrophysicist Munazza Alam (planetary systems in the universe, how they compare to our solar system, and what they tell us about the origins of planets), and Unplastify co-founder Agustina Besada (the mission to change the human relationship with plastic and accelerate positive change).
Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors by Kim Andrews
Our Planet: The Official Children’s Companion Book by Matt Whyman
Tiny Explorers Series by Miro Tartan
Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life by Richard Louv
Put a plan together to celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day on May 19! Find a comfortable stop outside and play one of the Moshi Stories from the Exploring Nature playlist in your classroom. Then, invite kids to draw and write about what they heard.