Every time our family gets outside, life slows and we can fully enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Being nature smart is among the 8 intelligences; it is called The Naturalist Intelligence. So, in addition to the importance of playing outside and enjoying some fresh air and vitamin D, sending our children outside daily increases their Naturalist Intelligence if there is some intention behind it.
I am a book-lover and some books capture me the moment I catch a glimpse of them. The Nature Connection, by Clare Walker Leslie is one of those. This is a great book that focuses on a different parts of nature each month. In addition to that, Leslie does an excellent job giving her readers ideas and suggestions on how to become a Naturalist.
We began to use it this past summer and one of the many things it has encouraged us to do is pay attention to nature as we wait to experience our “nature surprise” for the day. We learned how to take 20 minutes out of each day to sit quietly, watch, and listen to all that is going on around us. Before we would head out, the girls would grab their nature backpack (which included a sketch book, a pencil, and a magnifying glass) and a water. I would bring a camera and a nature book. My favorite is Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study so that we could put a name to an unfamiliar tree, plant, bug or object and learn something about it.
We loved to go to the same spot to see what was the same and different about it each day. It came to a screeching halt when the mosquitoes came out in full force, however, up until that point, it was something that captured the attention and hearts of our girls.
We watched the fruit on the Sumac tree ripen as the days progressed and when we noticed that they began to seep with juice, we collected as much as we could carry in a grocery bag, brought the berries home, and made Sumac Lemonade. We would have never done this had it not been for this daily nature adventure, paying close attention to the details of nature that we would have otherwise missed. This is just one example of a sweet memory that came from this intentional nature time together.
Two other great books to have in your library are The Stick Book and Go Wild! by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofiled. Both of these are completely inspiring. These may encourage children to get outside and hunt for the necessary items in order to create something amazing. And who knows, perhaps they will begin increasing their Naturalist Intelligence in the process of making unforgettable childhood memories.
Our first year homeschooling, we read The Boxcar Children and being filled with the motivation that only a first-time homeschooler experiences, after many phone calls, I found a refrigerator box which we brought home and cut into a “Boxcar.” We painted the outside of it and decorated the inside as if this was the boxcar the children were living in. We sat in it every day while we read. It made such an impact that I couldn’t part with it after we were done reading the book, so I cut it up and used it as our family’s camping sign. On our first camping trip, we went on a nature walk and collected twigs, acorns, and pine cones. With the help of a glue stick, we created a sign that still brings a smile to my face.
Nature provides so many excellent learning opportunities, but it is so easy to miss. Taking time each day to intentionally experience nature no only strengthens the Naturalist Intelligence in all of us, but provides lasting memories. Take time to go outside with your children today and explore!