What you will need:
- Nature Journal (click here for instructions on making your nature journal)
- Art materials
- Optional: shovel or spoon
- Color or draw a page in your journal, or on a piece of paper, and label the page “Ponds and Water Spots”. A water spot can be anywhere: a pond, creek, stream, puddle, downspout, gutter or man made watering hole. Did you know there used to be an ocean in Kansas?
- Look for these things to draw or write about in your journal:
- Pond skater
- Something that quacks
- A dragonfly
- Pond weeds (algae, cattails, water lily or lotus blossoms)
- A large rock or a log with a frog
- Ask: What animals can you find near a water spot? Do you see any signs that an animal was nearby? Any minibeasts? Compare.
- Draw your water spot.
- If you are able to, dig a hole near your water spot. What happens? Did it begin to fill with water? Why?
How to expand it:
- When you ask questions, you inspire linguistic development. Children begin to ask questions, make predictions, and are exposed to a rich vocabulary. Self expression will bloom! Nature is always changing. Encourage your kiddos to discuss, wonder, make marks, write words, share thoughts and explore further through art exploration.
- Dig a trench. Line it with sand or small rocks. No sand or rocks in your yard? Line it with foil. Build a stream or a slippery slide for bugs.
- Discover the power of water. Engineer a ramp to carry water downhill. Place an object in the path of the water. What happens? Can water carry small objects? Test your ideas!
- Explain and demonstrate: teach your child how to safely use a vegetable peeler and practice with a vegetable like a carrot or a potato. Then find a stick to whittle into a boat or raft. Or make a whole fleet! Reminder to kids: supervision is required for the safe handling of any new tool. What other tools can you introduce to your child? Tools will come in handy when you make that backyard fort together…
- Experiment with some of your favorite nature collectables. Do they sink or float? Explain. Illustrate your findings.
- Ask: what makes a water strider seem to dance across the surface of the water? Tally the number of water striders that you see. Are they the same size? Color? Are there more or less than you saw yesterday?
- Show and Tell: Water pollution. What does it look like? How can I help?
- What questions did your child ask? What other experiments did you and your child test?
What kids learn:
- Nature touches us all with it’s connectedness. Living things depend on each other. Is there life in the water community? Or is it all just ‘wet’? Imagine water as a stress-free sensory zone, and as the weather warms, a place for daily play. Playing near a creek can become recurring play. Don’t have one? Make your own! Like any open ended activity, water offers uncertainty. Will I get wet? Probably. But the brain is wired for thinking and problem solving. So, out with the predictable, and in with discovery!
- Comparison. Use opposite words, like gooey and solid, warm and cold, big and small, empty and full. Learning to compare things is an important part of learning language.
- Experimentation. When kids experiment, they're learning how to learn. Failure is an important part of experimenting, so let kids try things that won’t work. It’s how they figure things out!
- Sensory play! Sensory play lets children touch, squeeze, smell and feel helps build connections in the brain.
- Density is what decides whether an object sinks or floats in water. If something is less dense than water, it floats. If something is more dense than water, it sinks.