“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Henry David Thoreau had a deep connection to nature that permeated his writing. Thoreau had the amazing ability to paint a visual image with his words, almost placing you in the environment he was describing.
Howard Gardner identifies this type of skill as verbal linguistic intelligence, the ability to excel at the spoken and written word. People high on linguistic intelligence enjoy reading and are able to explain things in depth.
Young children are just starting to develop their own voice, whether written or spoken. We, as educators, are introducing rich language experiences through language modeling. We put new vocabulary words in context for young children to understand. The outdoor environment presents a rich context for developing verbal/linguistic skills. How might you enhance your outdoor classroom and outdoor activities to increase verbal/linguistic intelligence in young children?
Reading nooks: Create an outdoor space for children to enjoy books. Have a “book bag” that children can bring outside with them, varying the books often. Read books about the outdoors and nature. One of my favorite authors is Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. Many of her books like Shells, Shells, Shells and Rocks, Rocks, Rock explore concepts in nature.
Journaling: Provide supplies for children to journal, documenting the experiences outside. Document the children’s words as they dictate stories to you. Have crayons, markers, and paper available for the children to visually represent their ideas.
Language walks: Walk around the outdoor environment and label what you see. Have the children label what they see. Talk about your shared experiences, making sure to define any new vocabulary words children may not know. Every spring I would take the preschoolers on a walk around our college campus looking for spring buds. I would label the flowers emerging from the ground, such as the crocuses, tulips, and daffodils.
Weather watch: Have the children describe the weather. How does it feel? What types of clothes do you need to wear for the weather? How is today’s weather different from yesterday? What do you see when you look in the sky? Take pictures of the weather and have the children describe what they see.
Outdoor Theater: Create an “outdoor theater”, a place where children can perform stories. Provide the children with a few open-ended items to use like scarves, dress up clothes, sticks, and baskets. Or let the children discover their own props.
These are just a few ideas that you can use to help increase children’s verbal/linguistic intelligence while experiencing the outdoors.
Check out The Adventurous Child Bookcase with Lockable Lid which can be used to store all the books needed for outdoor reading!
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