—By Carol Malnor
Teachers and kids are back in the classroom. But that doesn’t mean it’s an end to time in nature. I was inspired by Stacy Torino’s article “50 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Bringing Nature into the Classroom.” One of my favorite ideas was “Stock your bookshelf with nature books,” so I’ve added a Dawn Publications’ book to go along with a sampling of ideas from Stacy’s list.
- Measure rainfall: You can make your own rain gauge and put it out to see how much rain you get. Here’s a good guide on how to make a proper design. (Pitter and Patter. Two water droplets journey through the water cycle meeting all kinds of critters along the way.
- Have a classroom bug box: Bug boxes are a fantastic way to get a closer look at what’s crawling around your schoolyard. Bring them into the classroom, and then be sure to always let them go. (Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs. Lift up a rock and find a whole world of fascinating critters.)
- Have a featured animal of the week: Even if you live in the city, there are dozens of types of wildlife in your neighborhood and city. Assign students different weeks, and have them do a short report on the animals that can be found in your area. (Wild Ones: Observing City Critters. Follow a curious dog as he discovers all the animals in a city/suburban neighborhood.)
- Do a soil test: You can learn a lot about the dirt in your own backyard or schoolyard. Take a look at this soil hunt to gather soil. Here’s a simple soil test to try as well. (Mighty Mole and Super Soil. Mighty Mole leads you in a discovery of her underground world.)
- Make bird feeders: The pinecone feeder smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed never gets old. Though if you’re looking for an update, try making these birdseed cupcakes. (Noisy Bird Sing-Along. Join the bird chorus as you learn about birds while making their sounds.)
- Grow microgreens: You can buy special seeds or just use seeds like sunflower seeds. Once they reach an inch or two, you can pinch them off and eat them. By the way, the nutritional value in these little sprouts is through the roof! (Green Bean! Green Bean! A young gardener grows a bean plant through all the seasons.)
- ID trees around your school: Have kids collect leaves from around the school, then use field guides and ID books to figure out what trees they came from. A great resource is Project Learning Tree. It’s one of the best nature programs around! (Over in the Forest: Come Take a Peek. Young children meet the animals in the forest through rhyme, singing, and movement.)
- Celebrate the first day of a new season: Whether you celebrate the winter or summer solstice or the spring or autumn equinox, do something special to recognize the seasons. (The Dandelion Seed. A simple and profound book about a tiny seed, seasons, and cycles.)
Read all 50 ideas on Stacy’s blog at We Are Teachers.