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My Path - interactive activities for pathway play.
My Path:
Engaging with nature
Research shows that children’s engagement with nature impacts their physical and psychological well being. It is critical that children have opportunities to connect to the beauty of the natural world and have hands-on experiences outdoors. Through play, we can further encourage children to discover, imagine, and develop deep connections with nature, encourage environmental learning, and develop and strong sense of stewardship to the earth. During your journey, incorporate some of these fun fall themed activities to get children engaged and exploring the natural world surrounding them.
My Path Links Literature Connections Sharing Your Experiences Engaging With Nature Planning Your Journey Playing Along the Way
Nature Bracelet:
Kids enjoy collecting all kinds of small, natural objects like leaves, rocks, feathers, shells, flowers, and seed pods. Make a “sticky” bracelet on your child’s wrist out of masking tape with the sticky side facing up. As you explore, let them collect items they find along the way and stick them to their bracelet. Children will love wearing their creations and comparing with others what they found.
Creatures, Creatures, Everywhere!
What traces of animals can you find along your pathway journey? What types of insects do you see? Take a journal and record clues you find of animals, insects, other wildlife. Maybe you see a burrow of a rabbit, a nest of a bird, or a chrysalis from a caterpillar that has recently emerged as a butterfly. You might take a look under a rock for some earthworms or look closely on the leaves for some hiding insects. Spring is a good time to learn about baby animals and ways animals care for their young. It is also a great time to discuss ways animals protect themselves from predators (camouflage, imitation, etc.), attract mates, or change behaviors. Observing animals opens the window to discuss the importance of protecting the natural habitat of animals, safety precautions, and the importance of never leaving any food or trash outdoors that could be potentially harmful to wildlife.
Animal Animations
Act out various characteristics of different forms of wildlife such as insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. How do these animals behave in the spring? What do they eat? What do they spend their time doing? To add even another layer of fun, ask your friends or family to guess what type of animal you are pretending to be.
Springtime Wildlife Treats
Want to attract some butterflies to your own home? Butterfly feeders can be made of overripe fruit such as oranges, bananas, tomatoes, watermelon, or pears. Simply cut the fruit in halve or in chunks or slices and place on a brightly colored plate. You can also string fruit pieces on twine to hang on a tree branch. Watch as butterflies appear to enjoy your sweet treats!
Letter Treasures
As you walk look for items in nature that look like letters of the alphabet. For example, you might see a branch that looks like the letter “V”, a flower that looks like the letter “O” or a feather that looks like the letter “I”. Older children may enjoy taking photos with a camera and making their very own book as they make their way through the alphabet. You will be surprised what letter treasures you will find!
Make a Splash
April showers bring May flowers! Have some fun after a spring rain by slipping on your rain boots and some old clothes and go splash in the puddles you find on your walk! Puddles also make great mud holes for hours and hours of dramatic play and multisensory fun!
Springtime Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of various sounds, signs, critters, and other items to find in nature as you make your way down the trail. Your child can be a super spring sleuth as they locate these springtime items on your list and them off as they are located. Below is a list of items to consider searching for:
  • Woodpecker knocking or bird singing
  • Newborn wildlife
  • Frog or Salamander
  • Turtle sunning on a log
  • Butterfly or caterpillar
  • Nest or an egg shell
  • A puddle
  • Bud on a tree or shrub
  • Sap oozing on a tree
  • A mushroom (Note: never eat any mushroom found in nature)
  • A flower in bloom
  • A plant sprouting from the ground
  • Seed pods
  • Dandelion or four-leaf clover
  • Rainbow
  • Bird feather
  • Honeysuckle
  • Spider web
  • Bee colleting nectar
Program developed in partnership with:
PlayCore Natural Learning Initiative
© 2010 PlayCore, Inc. and Natural Learning Initiative,College of Design,
NC State University.
All rights reserved.
Pathways for Play is a trademark of PlayCore.
Spontaneous play (children playing together without direct adult intervention) is recognized by child development experts as a crucial aspect of healthy childhood.
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