Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Take A Child Outside: Ideas for Learning in the Outdoors

Even baby bookworms need time outside.  So in honor of Take a Child Outside Week, I am posting some of the activities we did to celebrate the outdoors. 

In general, we try to spend time outside at least once a day, and we are fortunate enough to live near some great playgrounds, national parks, and gardens.  This week, though, we made a couple of special "field trips".

Here's how we enjoyed being outside this week, and the things that we learned.  OH, and last, but not certainly not least, the books we read!

1) We visited a pumpkin patch

Unfortunately, however, we weren't able to actually PICK pumpkins thanks to a recent hurricane in our area and the field being very muddy (not to mention the pumpkins being rotten).  But we still had fun enjoying the sunny day and warm weather. 

If you make a trip to the pumpkin patch soon, you might want to try a few of these learning activities while you are there:

  • Point out new vocabulary words to your baby or toddler that have to with pumpkins: harvest, jack-o-lantern, patch, ripe, scarecrow, and vine 
  • Collect a few souvenirs to bring home to use as the basis for an arts & crafts project.  We chose to collect twigs (to be used in a project to create witches' brooms), acorns (we will be painting with them), and leaves (we will be sticking them between two sheets of contact paper to make a Fall placemat).  Pine cones, hay, and of course, pumpkins would also be great items to bring home.
  • Baby bookworm looking for some items for arts & crafts
  • A pumpkin patch is a wonderful place to practice those color words!  We talked about orange pumpkins, green apples, green grass, yellow hay, orange leaves, and brown acorns.

Book Pairing:
Most things we do begin with a book.  Here's a perfect book pairing for your trip to the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin Harvest by Calvin Harris

Pumpkin Harvest is a real-life tale of exactly what happens in a pumpkin patch.  I love the glossary at the end of the book that outlines all of the new vocabulary. The photographs are beautiful and baby bookworm enjoyed learning all about pumpkin harvesting before we took our trip to the pumpkin patch.

2) We took a nature walk through a national park near our house.

Another sunny day allowed us to enjoy a walk through a national park that is practically in our backyard.  I hate to admit, though, that this recent trip was the first time we had been there since the spring!  I guess we needed this Take a Child Outside Week to appreciate the things we take for granted.

You might want to try a few of these ideas while on a nature walk of your own:

  • Have an A to Z scavenger hunt to sneak in a phonemic awareness lesson.  What we did was started with A and tried to find an object that begins with A (we found acorns), then we moved on to B (we found bikes), and so forth.  Baby bookworm thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Count things in nature.  We collected lots and lots of acorns, and baby bookworm lined them on a bench and we counted them.

    Counting acorns
  • Try to find letters hidden in nature.  This one was a toughy for us!  I thought that maybe I saw a letter A in a tree, but you be the judge!  Hopefully you are more successful at this than we were.
  • Do you see a letter A in this tree's branches?  It's hidden on the right
Book Pairing:

If you have a baby, the word book Fall would be great to read before your nature walk.  We read this book all the time, although it is admittedly too easy for baby bookworm now!  

Maisy's Nature Walk by Lucy Cousins is one that would work well with this "field trip".  I will have to track it down because it looks cute and I'm hoping our next nature walk in the park isn't in another 6 months!

So get out there and enjoy the outdoors!  Fall has just begun, but it will be winter before you know it.  Time flies when you are having fun learning....

I am sharing this post on Jersey Family Fun.  For other ways to celebrate Take A Child Outside Week, be
sure to visit this link up. 

I am also sharing this post at Learning All The Time's link up called Favorite Resource This Week.


  1. Thanks for the ideas. We are heading out for a nature walk on Sunday. Love your ideas!

  2. Great ideas and book suggestions! We love outdoor time here at our house!! Thanks for linking to Favorite Resources :)


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