Nurturing a Nature-Lover

Encourage your child to experience the natural world to enhance learning.



Nurturing a Nature-Lover

Even if you live in a cold climate, you can help your very young child love nature at any time of year. Start indoors! Tuning her into nature will increase her observational skills and enrich her growing vocabulary with lots of new words such as types of birds, flowers, leaves, snow, wind, and clouds.

Houseplants: Plant some of the orange, grapefruit, and lemon seeds from fruits that your toddler has eaten. Explain that the plants need water and earth and light to grow. These citrus seeds make small plants with shiny green leaves. Your toddler will be so proud of his little plants.

Outdoor gardening: In the late autumn, give your toddler a small trowel without a sharp point. Let her help you make nice cozy holes to plant bulbs (supervise her closely so she doesn't try to taste them, since they are toxic). Tell her they will sleep in the earth until the springtime wakes them up. Then they will start growing green leaves and pretty flowers — yellow daffodils or brightly colored tulips.

Fish: Having goldfish is fun for a toddler — she will love feeding time. However, since she is still learning wrist control, she may pour the food too vigorously. Fish can die of overfeeding, so put your hand gently over your toddler's as she lovingly feeds her "fishie."

Walks: In autumn, take your little one places where there are lots of colorful yellow, brown, and red leaves plastering the damp earth. Talk about the colors of the leaves. Explain that the trees need to get ready for the snow and ice that will make their branches heavy. They need to let their leaves turn pretty colors and fall down before the winter winds come.
In winter, take a walk outside with your child bundled up in a stroller. Point out the bare branches of trees, and remind him how the leaves turned pretty colors and sailed down to the ground in the autumn.

Animals: If your community has a zoo, take out a membership. Your baby will delight in pointing out the antics of monkeys and other animals.
At home, fill a bird feeder and hang it close to a window. Hold your baby in your arms and together watch all the different feathered creatures that come to have breakfast at your feeder. If you have bread or crackers left over after a meal, tell your baby that you are saving the crumbs for the birdies, then add those crumbs to your feeder.

Books: Be sure to read some easy-to-understand books about plants, animals, and nature. The book The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, is about a little boy who plants a seed and carefully waters it every day.

Science & Nature Activities
Age 3
Age 2
Age 1
Early Science