Home learning is the perfect opportunity to help children be more aware of their environment. Getting children connected to the outdoors, and encouraging them to do their own improvement projects, will give them the skills to make the world a better place.
For younger children, turn your outdoor space into a fantasy world with these ideas from David Sobel’s Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators:
Adventure: Turn a walk in the neighborhood or the park into an adventure. Set the stage before heading out, and allow your children to map, journal and reflect on the discoveries they make along the way.
Fantasy and Imagination: Try telling a story to evoke images and lore around the place you live. Transform your backyard into a magical kingdom and allow your children to fill in the details and retell what they have come up with.
Animal Allies: Ask your children what animals might live in this place (either your yard, park or other natural places). Have them pick their favorite (or two) and make up a story about them.
Maps and Paths: Have children produce a 3-D map of an area you plan to visit, then bring that map along to see how the area actually looks. Have a discussion on how different or similar the area looks compared to what they envisioned while making their map.
Special Places: Have your children build a fort out of toys, branches, and anything else outdoors (or use a natural place like space under a tree or in a hedge), or the classic blanket fort indoors.
Small Worlds: Have your children engage in constructing a small scale city, town, or kingdom using natural materials. Ask them to explain the features of their small world and how it is alike and different from the world in which they live.
Hunting and Gathering: Tell your children that you would like for them to collect or gather things from the yard or in the place you are visiting. They can then display their collection for the entire family. You can either specify items or ask them to collect things they find interesting.
For older children, engage their abilities in projects that will improve the sustainability and health of your home. Have them plan, design, and implement a project like:
Plant a tree, vegetable garden, or pollinator garden
Design an exercise program or sports competition for the family
Install a rain barrel
Do a home energy audit
Reuse and recycle items that can’t be recycled through your local recycling center
Plan and cook a healthy meal