Some days, my children are very observant – they notice every little thing around them, often picking out things I never would have seen. Other days, it seems like they’re wearing blinders, unable to notice anything even if it sits right in front of their nose. It took awhile, but I think I’ve finally pinned down the cause: what they notice is change. When something is different, it’s often immediately apparent, locked on to and discussed.
I like to use the changing seasons – especially summer to fall and winter to spring – as a springboard for their awareness of the natural world. That same creek we walked by every summer day suddenly becomes entrancing as it begins to fill up with water and the foliage of the small weedy trees within it starts to yellow. New bugs, new habits of the same old animals we’ve been seeing all summer, all are fair game for a discussion of the beautiful, constantly changing world we live in.
This is an especially great time to discuss the local ecology with children. Most are aware of the basic seasons from an early age, but oftentimes movies and books focus on one region of one country and aren’t exactly representative of the experiences of your own family in your own land. To discover your own local ecology requires lots of separate observations over a long period of time – luckily, that’s easily accomplished with a daily or weekly walk around the neighborhood, or even some time sitting in the backyard. If your children are anything like mine, they’ll be very powerful motivators! Even in an urban area, you can still observe the different behaviors of local animals, the different insects present at different times of the year, and the changing plants as they bloom, fruit, and then prepare for the winter season – or whatever the season is called in your part of the world!
photo courtesy of shutterstock