You're not alone if you've suddenly found yourself in a 'homeschool' situation. I went from dreaming of one day homeschooling my son to the quick reality of it. Schools in my home state have closed in an effort to protect health and reduce strain on the healthcare systems. With this change, my family and I will be seeking out nature more often -- not just for health -- but for encouraging learning as well. In my preparation I've compiled a few nature-inspired activities below in hopes they will spark interest for others too.
Check Out 5 Nature-Inspired Activities For Kids To Help Beat Isolations
1. Make Mushroom Art
For this activity, you'll first need to go on a mushroom hunt. Once you have your mushroom collection ready, here are a few ideas to try:
- Trace around the mushrooms and color their images in. Compare the different shapes and label the parts of the mushroom (base, stem, cap).
- Dip mushrooms with gills into paint and press onto paper to create fun designs.
- Make spore prints by placing fully-opened mushrooms gill side down onto different-colored sheets of construction paper. Choosing different colored paper will allow you to identify the color of the mushroom's spores. Let the mushrooms sit on the paper for at least an hour -- the longer they sit the more defined the print will be. If you're interested in teaching your children more about spores and the life cycle of a mushroom, check here.
Related: 8 Things You Need To Do RIGHT NOW To Fight COVID-19
2. Compile a "Tree Rubbing" Collection
If you're headed out for a walk in the woods, consider taking thin sheets of paper, tape, and a bunch of crayons with you. With these tools in hand you can make an art collection by rubbing the crayons sideways (with the paper peeled off) on paper against the bark of a tree. Encourage the kiddos to select a variety of trees when making their art. Compare and contrast how the tree rubbings differ and why. If you don't have access to woods and trees, do your best, of course, and improvise. Even if it's just off your back balcony, find something that lets your children get some fresh air.
Related: 6 Fun Ways to Teach Children about Plants and Herbs
3. Create a Moss Garden
Once you start looking for moss, you'll realize it's everywhere! For this activity keep your eyes peeled for a variety of different types of moss and gradually build your collection. Your likely to find moss anywhere from sidewalk cracks to your own backyard. When harvesting, be gentle, and only take a small sample from your selected area. Keep your moss samples in a bowl or container and be sure to mist with water often. Let your kids decorate the moss garden with rocks, figurines, and other plants (we added aloe to ours).
4. Make your Own Wormery
What could be more fun than playing with dirt and worms? This idea comes from Allyson Speake, the creative mama behind Tanglewood Hollow -- a small business offering nature-based education materials designed to build a child's love of adventure and learning.
Building your own wormery will give your children an up-close lesson on the benefits of worms in soil. You can view an infographic with what you'll need and step-by-step details here.
If you're looking for a few more ideas, Allyson has offered Mothering readers 15% off any of her educational materials with the code MOTHERING. She has also partnered with a few other businesses to offer a homeschool starter kit. We understand not everyone has access right now to the things to start a wormery, but hopefully the plethora of ideas Allyson offers can substitute if you can't.
Related: COVID-19 Is Teaching Us More than Just How To Wash Our Hands
5. Play with Dandelions
Dandelions are popping up everywhere in our neighborhood and I'm excited to harvest a few with the kiddos. Here's a few ideas for playing with dandelions post harvest:
- Dip dandelions in paint and create a masterpiece.
- Consider this adorable "dandy-lion" craft.
- Teach children to use their breath by making dandelion wishes. Find a few dandelion seed heads first. Encourage your little ones to work toward blowing all seeds off the stem in one breath to make their wishes come true. I've been helping my son with this by holding my palm in front of his chest and encouraging him to take a breath so deep that his chest floats up to my hand. For younger children make this into a counting activity -- how many breaths does it take to blow the seeds away?
- Wear a dandelion crown.
Again, if you've been put under a stay-at-home order, we recognize that. We understand that building a wormery or doing a tree rubbing may be difficult if you're isolated in your 7th-floor apartment in San Francisco. You can still involve your children in nature-inspired activities for kids. This is a perfect time to start indoor an herb garden or even let them do their very own with a hydroponic garden!
We're in this together mamas. And we need nature now more than ever. What ideas for nature-inspired activities for kids can you share with us?