Taking a nature walk is a good way to spend some quality time with your child and help them identify the creatures you see along the way. It’s not an African safari, of course, so you won’t be able to show her lions and tigers – unless you go to the zoo. You may, however, see squirrels, sparrows, robins and perhaps a rabbit or two. Depending on where you live, you might even see cows, horses and deer. Tell your child the name of each creature you spot and have her repeat its name along with you. Explain a little about each animal: what it eats, where it lives, what its babies are called and anything else that comes to mind. If you can be creative on the spur of the moment, make up a short descriptive rhyme about each animal.
Take along a picture book or coloring book with an animal theme and help your child identify the animals or color a picture of her choice. Don’t forget to pack a lunch. Bake some animal shaped cookies early in the day to snack on.
If a nature walk isn’t possible because you live in a city setting, you can still take advantage of the idea by utilizing a local park. Or pretend you are on safari and visit your local zoo!
Turn your next trip to the great outdoors into a learning experience with this nature activity that focuses on the sounds animals make. Spend some time sitting quietly together, listening for animal noises. Perhaps it’s a bird chirping, a dog barking, a horse neighing or an insect buzzing. When you notice the sound, give your child the words to associate with what he or she is hearing. For example, you might say, “Listen to that cat meowing. It is so soft.” Or, “I can hear a cow mooing. I wonder what she is saying to her cow friends.” You can even have some fun pretending to be an animal. Try talking to each other using only chirping sounds…or buzzing noises.
When you return home, create your own animal sounds recording. Or, if you do not have access to a recording device, work together to create an animal sounds book. Using pictures of the different animals you heard throughout the day, have your child identify the animal and then dictate the sound it makes. Use the same text for each page, “The ____ says ____.” For a picture of a bird, you would write “The bird says chirp.” The two of you will have a lot of fun remembering your animal sounds nature activity when you share the book before bed and at story time.
Animal exercises can be done one-on-one with your child, but is even more fun to do with some friends! This nature activity for preschoolers is a good way to include physical education into your lesson plan. For every animal you and your child see during your outdoor adventure, do an exercise geared toward the movement of the animal. For example, have the child flap her arms like a bird, hop like a rabbit, stretch like a cat, gallop like a horse, or scamper (run fast) like a squirrel. You can have the child run fast in place for a couple of seconds then stop suddenly and stay absolutely still – just like an animal might do. Your child will learn while having fun and you will too! Once you have practiced the specific animal movements for a period of time, try testing your child’s memory. Call out an animal name, and see if he or she can remember just how that animal moves. Or, try moving like an animal and challenge your child to guess which creature you are imitating.
These nature activities for kids are easy to incorporate into your day, and will give your preschooler a new appreciation of the animals that surround us every day.