Nature and kids
Dragonfly Teaching Your Children About Nature

Nature is everywhere-not just in the country. While a walk down a country lane offers the full sensory experience of sights, sounds, touch, and smell, city parks have much to offer as well. Many are planted with colorful flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and birds or trees with interesting fruits and leaves that turn color in the autumn.

Yes, it's important to cultivate young minds in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but it's equally important to cultivate their sense of the natural world. Instead of plopping your 4-month old babies down in front of a Baby Einstein video, sit them in front of the window and watch the leaves on the trees shimmer in the breeze.

Recommended reading: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Take a Walk or Explore the Yard
Instead of going to the gym to get your exercise Put your kids in the stroller and take a walk. It's good exercise for you and your kids will enjoy the change of scenery. Send your toddlers and preschoolers to roam around outside and encourage them to touch the leaves, smell the flowers, or dig around in the dirt. If you have an herb garden let them touch and smell the different textures and aromas of the leaves.

You may not be a botanist or even a gardener, but you probably know the names of many of the more common plants. If you want to learn more take a look at these easy to read guides for identifying plants:

Identifying Flowering & Non-Flowering Weeds

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers

Visit a Nature Center
Nature centers are designed to provide visitors with lots of information about the plants and animals that live in your region. Take a Saturday morning class on bird watching, sign up for a hike, participate in a canoe trip, or pick up the free literature that park guides are always happy to provide.

Books and Nursery Rhymes
Another way to help your youngsters learn about different animals and plants and their habitats (the "homes" they live in). For example, Beatrix Potter, who wrote and beautifully illustrated a series of books in the early 20th century, featuring personified animal characters has an entire series of books personifying animal characters complete with watercolor illustrations, Peter Rabbit being the most famous and most beloved of these characters.

Book Recommendations:
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
Ages 4 to 8

A Child's Garden of Verses (Illustrated by Tasha Tudor)
Ages 4 to 8

Wind in the Willows DVD - The Complete First Series
Ages 4 to 8

The Secret Garden
Ages 9 to 12

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