1. Find a box. It doesn't have to be fancy-shmancy. I grabbed a wooden crate that my husband found on the side of the road some time ago. It had previously been decorating our front porch. Sorry, porch.
2. If your box has holes, as ours does, cut up an old cereal box or some other piece of cardboard to place in the bottom.
3. Put it in the bottom of you box (man, these steps are simple!).
4. We added an ice cube tray to corral all the teeny tiny bits of nature the kids might bring home.
5. Go on a nature walk! Find a local park, wildlife refuge, or - as we did today - walk around the neighborhood.
We found evergreen trees:
All three of the kids had fun feeling the branches.
Cactus (which we did not feel):
And wildflowers...or weeds. You know.
Natalie brought an empty cereal bag with her and they both put some of their finds in it to bring home.
While walking, we also paid attention to other things. We felt the wind and the kids noticed that it started to get stronger on our walk. They played in large, muddy mud puddles and got completely soaked (I'm trying to be more laid back about that sort of thing). Natalie and Daniel started screaming to see if they could hear their echo - they could. Silas joined in. Doesn't matter how young you are, I guess - screaming is fun. We noted the dark grey clouds in the sky, and we heard thunder. That was when we started walking home. On the way, I asked them what they thought the wind, the clouds, and the thunder might mean, and they both said rain.
When we got back, they arranged their things in the box. Well, I'm using the term "arranged" liberally. Basically, they threw everything in and I arranged it all. They are preschoolers after all.
The pine cone and the dried flowers were from another walk, another day. We found them on the porch with the box and decided to add them in.
And our little tiny bits:
What are we going to do with it all?
Above all, I don't want this nature box to become stagnant. I want it to stay interesting, and if the kids have thoroughly examined everything several times, then they'll start to ignore it. I think the key here is to rotate things in and out fairly often. Right now, my idea is that with each new theme, we'll add one or two new items to explore, while at the same time culling out some of the items that have been in the box for awhile.
This is all pretty new to us, so I'll have to keep you posted after it's been in use for a few weeks. Today, though, the kids had a blast. They loved being outside, jumping, screaming, looking at things. It was a good reminder: it doesn't take much to get kids excited. Even a walk around the neighborhood can make their morning.
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