Homeschooling     Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12     Education Guide    

Nature-based education for kids



Ideas for using the great outdoors as a learning tool

nature, outdoors, kids, education


Computer screens are increasingly becoming the focus of education, but nature has always been our teacher. Familyfocusblog.com offers these suggestions for activities that will teach kids botany, biology, ecology, observation skills, research methods, patience, and a host of other lessons.

Hiking – Whether you choose a walk around the block or a wilderness trek, hiking is a fun family activity that provides a changing assortment of stuff to notice. Point out creatures and plants to your kids and stop to observe or examine. You might do a bit of research before starting out, so you can also talk about the history of the area or facts about the predominant plant and tree species.


Birding – Birdwatching provides a great focus for a hike, but it's most easily done in your back yard, especially if you have a bird feeder. Even a city fire escape offers views of birds. Kids will learn a lot just by observing and differentiating one species from another. You can bring in information such as what various birds eat, nesting habits, migration patterns. Practical lessons will also be stirred up, from the use of binoculars to how to keep squirrels out of the bird feeder. 

  

Gardening – It's healthy to get hands in the dirt, and what a tremendous satisfaction it is to harvest vegetables we've grown ourselves! Kids can get exercise by helping out with digging beds. They'll learn about plant life cycles by planting seeds, watching them grow, and learning when to harvest. Watering teaches responsibility, judgment, and details of the water cycle. Weeding teaches how to identify different species, especially if you show them the edible weeds that can go into salads.

 

Rock hunting – Kids who are interested in rocks and fossils will enjoy trips to investigate creek banks, stream beds, and rock walls. The Hudson Valley has old quarries that are fun to explore, providing lessons on the history of the local economy. Bring along a rock and mineral field guide and do some research on the geological formation of the region. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I remember when my kids had to find fossils for an elementary school class, sorry I forgot the grade. We looked for stone walls and were almost always successful in finding fossil imprints.)



More Homeschooling


  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • The Mama Bear Effect Launches New Resource to Combat Child Sexual Abuse

    Parents of young children and those with special education needs now have a free tool to educate children about their bodies and boundaries

    Parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapists now have a new tool to educate the most vulnerable population of children, those who need specialized assistance with learning and communication. read more »
  • Libraries in the Hudson Valley

    Visit your local library for books, classes, events and more

    Libraries are a great resource for families. Not only can you check out a book, or two or three...you can also find classes for kids and adults. Some have summer reading programs, book clubs, homework help, career education and family-friendly events. read more »
  • Stem toy that kids are guaranteed to love

    Kids can learn all about the digestive system

    Have your kids take a journey through the belly with this STEM kit from Meandmine. HVP staff's grandkids review this fun toy and it gets 2 thumbs up! read more »
  • How to be funny, and how not to be

    Famous comedian Roy Wood Jr. offers tips

    Being funny can be a kid’s superpower, but it can also become a weapon to wound. Comedian Roy Wood Jr. helps fellow parents guide children accordingly. read more »
  • How and when to teach kids about homophobia

    A two-mom couple offer tips on having this crucial conversation

    Social media influencers Ebony and Denise, moms of three kids, have some helpful guidance on how and when to broach the topic of homophobia with your family. read more »
  • s-NO-w Day

    The world won't come to a halt if you spend the snow day with your kids

    Peter Shankman offers some great advice on what to do with that surprise snow day read more »
  • Three books to encourage healthy outdoor play

    Great ideas to help kids get outside

    A fun journey with a grandma and granddaughter, nature play and how to create areas to connect children with the natural world read more »
  • Words to soothe the angry child

    The right phrase can make all the difference

    Pandemic or no, children can get really mad, really fast. The folks at motherly offer some strategic phrases that can help de-escalate any number of situations, from toddler-hood to the teen years. It’s never too early to teach anger management. read more »