Earth Day was Wednesday, but every day is a great day to learn more about the Earth and nature. Playing and singing together are perfect ways to indirectly teach your child about the natural world.
If you don’t know any songs, YouTube is an excellent resource. Here are the Jbrary girls teaching you how to sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Children learn best from the adults in their lives, so don’t be afraid to sing off key.
The Jbrary girls have all sorts of songs, and they are great, so I will forgive them for starting the song out as the Eensy Weensy Spider. They pretty much have a YouTube video for every song and rhyme you might like to learn or teach.
Let’s take a look at “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” What do children learn? You don’t need a lesson plan about spiders and the seasons for a child to enjoy this simple song, but hearing those words “spider” and “sun” and “rain” helps to build your child’s early nature vocabulary. They learn that spiders can climb up a water spout. They learn about rain, which we are getting a lot of (this is April, after all). And they learn about the sun, which warms things and dries things out so the spider can go back to climbing up the water spout.
The hand motions make it an easy song to learn for the very young who aren’t speaking yet. But even though they aren’t speaking, they are taking in every word you say or sing. So talk and sing with your little ones as often as you can.
When you go out for walks, encourage your little one to touch grass and branches, gently, of course. Visit the Library to find a guide for local trees or flowers if you don’t know their names. Even knowing the name of one kind of tree builds your child’s verbal vocabulary and nature knowledge.
Ted Lewin has a great book for early readers, Can you see me? , that helps children and parents think about looking for animals, who are often hiding in plain sight, just camouflaged. Can you and your child find them in the pictures?
Another great book for you to share with your child is How Things Work in the Yard. Lisa Campbell Ernst explores things you might see in your yard (or in a park) such as butterflies, squirrels, or rocks. Her paper cut illustrations are interspersed with interesting facts, such as this one about ants: “Ants communicate with each other by tapping their antennae together.”
If your child is older, you can collect flowers or leaves and make a collection. Leaves are easier, since they often fall onto the sidewalk and don’t require being pressed into big fat books. To keep leaves for a long time, you can iron them between two pieces of wax paper. Here are some instructions.
In Pittsburgh, we are very lucky to have so many parks where you can take nature walks. Depending on where you live, you can take nature walks in South Park, North Park, Frick Park, Mellon Park, Highland Park, to name a few.
Looking for more books? Ask a librarian! We love to help people find books!
by Suzi, CLP — Downtown & Business