Educational Activities in the Great Outdoors
Teach your kid his ABCs with a little help from Mother Nature.
- An outdoor classroom:The park. Your backyard. Any outdoor place. If that means you have to convince your partner that a trip to the beach is essential if your kid's going to learn to read, by all means, start packing.
- A digital camera
- A photo album
- Head outside. Pack a picnic if you'd like and make a day of it.
- Have your kid start collecting things and putting them into small piles: Rocks. Sticks. Leaves. Blades of grass. Pinecones. Flowers.
- Once your kid has a big collection, help him to make letters out of the stuff. For example, he could make an "A" out of sticks and a "B" out of leaves.
- Have a literary genius on your hands? Make the letters out of items that begin with the letter. For example, the letter "D" could be made out of driftwood and the letter "P" could be made out of pebbles.
- Snap a picture of each letter as your kid makes it or let him use the camera to snap it himself (unless, of course, it's a $2,000 camera and you're near a body of water).
- When you get home, develop the pictures and put them in a photo album (in alphabetical order, of course).
- Give your kid the photo album and challenge him to identify the letters he sees. Help him learn the letter sounds by sounding them out for him as he identifies them (e.g., "d-d-d-driftwood" or "m-m-m-My Sharona").
- As he gets better, have him begin to identify other items that begin with the letters. Yes, "p" is for "pine cones," but what else starts with "p"? Maybe "pretty mommy"?
- Adapt this activity for older kids by having them use the letters to spell and sound out simple words. Have them spell as many words as they can in a certain amount of time or let them match words that they finds in books—just keep them away from your Cosmo!
- Make it a math activity by making numbers and plus or minus signs out of your nature collection.