The little ones and I have been watching the squirrels in our yard switch from playful clowns to creatures on a mission to gather every last nut known to humanity!
The truth is that gathering in nature is a serious business both for the animals preparing for winter and for our children. Items carried home in pockets are evidence of early years learning happening in your own backyard.
Here are three kinds of natural treasures our children gather in the fall and what they mean for your child's growth and development!
1. Fall Leaves
The variety of crisp and colourful leaves in my house is unending as the trees in our neighbourhood shed their finery. As my little one gathers and then places her discoveries around the house, she is - perhaps unknowingly - comparing shapes, colours and textures and even categorizing and grouping them according to their similarities and differences. It doesn't get more STEM than this!
Acorn season arrived at our home concurrently with the introduction of our new play kitchen. Suddenly, my little guy was preparing acorn soup and other delectable acorn treats for a local squirrel. This kind of play with natural loose parts encourages the develpment of the imagination and wonder! Not to mention kindness toward local wildlife. You can imagine the squirrel's delight when he found this pot under our maple tree!
This year we went apple picking with the kids and watch them delight in climbing trees, reaching for the biggest, brightest apples! Their amazement at the abundance available to them and their sense of gratitude for the simple pleasure of the sparkling juice of that first bite tells me that gathering in this way is an activity that forms such values as: a willingness to take risks, being grateful and participating in the process of harvest so central to this time of year.
So while it may seem that the appearance of fall items like leaves, acorns and crab apples in your home is just more meaningless clutter - it's important to realize that these gathered items are actually confirmation of real learning going on in your child's heart and mind!
Are you finding little fall treasures scattered about your home? What kinds of learning is your child doing in nature this season?