Our kids love the natural world, simply put, because they go outside almost every day. We don’t own video games or video game players, and they don’t have electronic devices of their own yet. So when they go outside, they might be armed with a book, but they are much more likely to see, to hear and to smell what’s around them. In addition, a few books have inflamed in the girls a passion for a specific subject.
We go places. We stay put. (It’s okay to be late for tennis if we need to watch the phoebes fledge.) We keep lists. We draw in nature journals. We take pictures. We get dirty. We touch things. We plant things. We save things. We have a rock-and-bone-and-fossil table.
Window bird feeders have been indispensable for winter days when it is too cold to stay outdoors for long. Most recently a window hummingbird feeder has been drawing them right to our window so we can enjoy them up close. Binoculars near the window are an encouragement to observe.
Intimately knowing your own landscape is crucial in order to be able to notice differences by season. If you spend a year just watching what goes on outside your four walls, whether it be on a suburban postage stamp or 500 acres, you will see things you’ve never imagined from year-to-year. You’ll notice when the Canada goose pair has returned late for the spring. You’ll notice if the dark-eyed juncos will take safflower seed from the ground. And you’ll notice which way the wind blows when a storm is imminent. Do this yourself for a year, and your children will follow. Our ten-year old notices the smallest changes, while our 12-year old is passionate about the bigger picture and how things affect one another. We want our four children to know the feel and smell of their own soil, so they will be more likely to conserve and preserve in the future.