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Once upon a time, I worked as a naturalist. Best job ever. Each day, I got to lead children of all ages down trails in the woods and prairies and along ponds, rivers and streams. It was fun to see kids eyes open to the natural world around them.
While I could discuss decomposition or habitat adaptation with older students, I had to keep it simple for preschoolers and early elementary students. The main objective for young learners was observation. To keep the young ones focused on nature observation, we always used tools to assist them. Sometimes, we would give each child a paint chip card and each child’s job on spring and summer hikes was to find that color on our walk. Other times, we could give children pictures out of a magazine of a tree, a leaf or an animal.
Nature Observation Aids For Young Learners
Maureen at Spell Out Loud understands that young learners do well with observation aids. She created fabulous nature study I Spy printables as part of her Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers.
Kids can carry these I Spy cards with them on nature walks and search for whatever is printed on them. These printables are grouped into animals, garden, spring, fall and winter. They can be printed on cardstock, cut out, laminated and put on a ring to make it easy to carry and less likely to get ruined.
Searching for something in particular in nature can help children develop their observation skills and keep them focused on their walks. They are more likely to stay engaged if they are looking for a red bird than if they are simple walking around outside.
Recording Nature Observations With Preschoolers
Another great part of the Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers are the Printable Nature Booklets.
These themed printable booklets are a perfect first science journal for young learners. They allow students to record what they observe in nature and practice their writing skills.
Observing is one part of the scientific process, but observations are of no use to scientist unless they are recorded. Giving a young learner a blank notebook with the instructions “record what you observed” is a bit too much for the age group. The Printable Nature Booklets are a great way to ease into the process.
Need Preschool Science Help?
At The Homeschool Scientist, I get lots of questions about preschool science. Should we even bother teaching science to preschoolers? Is preschool science just a big mess? In Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Maureen tells us that preschoolers can absolutely be taught science and she gives advice and ideas on how it can be done successfully. For instance, she gives advice on adding more preschool science into your homeschool year.
- Incorporate observing nature and being outside in your weekly routine.
- Set up observation centers that can be used independently.
- Read quality literature that teaches science in the context of the story.
(Maureen, also, has a great 10 Days of Preschool Science series on her blog, Spell Out Loud that you don’t want to miss!)
You can get more science advice from Maureen by getting the Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers download. It is only $2.99 for 68 reproducible pages.