Connecting Children to Nature

Learning Activities

The following are suggestions and links for parents and teachers looking for lesson plans and resources related to the Connecting Children to Nature through American Literature book selections within this web site.

Please take a look at the companion Exhibit Discussion Blog and make a comment on the featured books.

Old Mother West Wind

Take a walk in nature to a place where you have observed animals at play.  Take along a sketchpad, journal, binoculars, writing tools, and perhaps a camera for documentation.  Consider which animals entertain you and bring them to life creating a short story.  Ask different family members to help you develop this story and see where your imaginations may take you.

Seed Babies

Create a surprise garden! Ask friends and family for seeds they are not using this year.  Ask for a brown paper bag unlabeled with written directions for growing printed on the outside.  Plant the seeds in the spring, or if you have a light table, any time of the year and see what emerges. The fun in this activity is making hypothesis and observations of the tiny seedlings emerging from the soil.

Wild Animals I Have Known

Have you ever a noticed an animal that visits your yard or porch often?  Have you had an encounter with the same animal over and over? Take some time to track its behavior by journaling daily or sketching the animal’s different postures. 

The web site below gives you a general background about Seton and his writing process.

Seton link

Among the Meadow People

Go take a walk outside with a friend or family member.  Take along a magnifying glass, a notebook, and a pen and find a place where grasses are at different heights. Explore the area while walking, sitting, or even crawling on your belly.  Through the magnifying glass, observe any small creatures scurrying around you.  Draw pictures of them or write a short poem about your encounter. If you are in a group, talk about your experiences and create a collaborative mural through pictures or words. You can also use Joseph Cornell's Sharing Nature with Children book to deepen this activity with friends, family, or in the classroom.

A Tree is Nice

Take a walk around your backyard or schoolyard and see if there is a spot where you can plant a native tree.  Make sure that you measure where you want the tree and take into account how much shade the tree will provide.  Document the experience by taking pictures of the planting and post it to a blog site created by you, your family, or classroom.  Who knows? Someday you might have a photo book that can be passed down generation-to-generation to people who have enjoyed this tree.

Paddle to the Sea

Organically written from a teacher's perspective from teachers focusing on language arts, creative arts, math, science, and social studies within the lesson plan.

FOND DU LAC EDUCATION - Mrs. Robin's 2nd Grade Lesson Plan

Ranger Rick Magazine

Collect materials around the house to make your own nature magazine.  Go through old journals and sketch books to find memories or stories to include in your magazine.  Perhaps pictures taken when you were doing a nature activity or pictures of an animal of interest could be used as illustrations.  Interview family and friends and include in your magazine their memories and stories of nature.

Sharing Nature With Children

Buy from your local bookstore or borrow from your local library Sharing Nature with Children and do the activity called the ‘Un-Nature Trail’ with family and friends.  Invite a teacher at your local school to do this activity with their students.  The students will be encouraged to play with all the senses.  They will also learn to categorize, and learn more about man-made objects in nature.

Joseph Cornell Website - Flow Learning explanation and resources written by author.

Joyful Noise

With a friend or family member, go outside on a summer night or day and record the sounds with any recording device available.  Great places to capture intense nature sounds include marshes, ponds, or meadows.  Listen to the recording and try to visualize what would create those sounds.  Another fun activity is creating a song with the sounds you hear and record.  Starting a companion blog site with other members of your community would be a great accompaniment to this activity.