Young Children and Nature

Last week, Mary Rivkin and Nancy Rosenow, the authors of Spotlight on Young Children and Nature participated in an online National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) event. They answered questions about connecting young children with nature.  I enjoyed reading the questions and answers and reflecting on outdoor play.

My favorite ideas from the Q&A session:

  • Plant potato sprouts in a garden and later dig them up and eat them.
  • Plant other foods that you can eat. (And later on, think of different ways to prepare the foods and create a class cookbook.)
  • Gardening teaches about being nurturing.
  • You can experience nature in an urban environment by investigating mini-environments such as shade (cool), sunny spots (warm), ice patches, puddles, etc.
  • Integrate technology and nature by taking a digital camera outside to take pictures of nature or by using a microscope to see items close up.
  • Dandelions = free flowers for kids.
  • Create baskets of nature loose parts.  Include things such as pine cones, stones, gravel, twigs, acorns, and leaves.
  • Being in natural areas reduces stress and promotes healthy living (both of which help children and adults learn).
  • Help children to become environmental stewards as adults. Provide them with time to experience the outdoors and grow to love nature as young children.

Thank you to Mary, Nancy, and guest participators for these great ideas for experiencing nature on the preschool playground.  If you are looking into creating a natural playscape on your playground, check out our raised Garden Box with Peep Holes.  I’m thinking Mary and Nancy’s potato garden would be fun with peep holes so the children can see the potatoes growing underground!


Rivkin, Mary and Nancy Rosenow.  “Q & A with Selected Authors of Spotlight on Young Children and Nature.”  National Association for the Education of Young Children. 3/29/12

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