A Little Bit of Dirt:  55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature

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I took a lovely fall walk with my muses through the woods.  The girls stopped to examine the changing leaves, and discovered that Sassafras trees have three different leaf shapes.  We painted rocks to take with us to hide for other hikers to find.  We had a glorious time, and can’t wait to do it again!

When children are engaged with nature, they are making observations.  Whether it is nature art, such as painting rocks, and noticing the different textures and colors, or doing an actual experiment, they are great observers.  I know.  I was a teacher for years and years.  My students noticed every dog hair on my skirt, and every hair out of place on my head.

Asia Citro has done a great job of collecting activities to engage young children with nature.  I didn’t know you could blow bubbles with a dandelion stem!  What a foundation to lay prior to discussing how plants transport water from stems to leaves!  I was so excited to find directions for a water viewer (to go with the Zoey and Sassafras book, Merhorses and Bubbles!).  If you don’t have stream nearby, how about a wading pool?  You might have to set the stage ahead of time with aquatic plants, tadpoles, etc. for the children to collect, examine, or view.

I love that Asia provided extension ideas, open ended questions, journaling suggestions, and huge emphasis on safety.  The photography is beautiful, and will pull you and your children into these activities.  I know my granddaughters (or other children) would enjoy all of them.  I also like that the activities can be used with a great variety of ages.

There are so many activities that I can’t wait to do!  I never imagined that you would have to give a child directions for making mud pies, but now that I think about it, I don’t ever recall my granddaughters making mud pies.  What a shame!!   I have left over LED pumpkin lights from Halloween, so for sure we will be making the leaf luminaries.  I think making a natural wreath will be a good activity for our next hike!  Imagine collecting leaves, small branches with berries, hickory nuts, walnuts, acorns, beautiful leaves, and whatever else we find for a wreath!  Holidays will never be the same again!! The best part is all the questions these activities will generate, and the very special journals that will result.

Lastly, I must thank Asia for taking me on a meander through my own childhood!  When I saw the “Nature Potions” activity, it brought back memories of collecting Marigold flowers and attempting to make perfume!  My colleague and I couldn’t understand why no one wanted to buy it, though!

A Little Bit of Dirt is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Citro, Asia. A Little Bit of Dirt: 55 Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature. Innovation Press, 2016.    ISBN:  978-1-943147-04-5

NGSS:  I am not aligning each individual activity, but they appear to fit some or all of the K—2 Life Science Standards below:

K-LS1-1. Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
1-LS1-1. Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
2-LS2-2. Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
2-LS4-1. Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.