Connecting children to nature at a young age is important to their relationship with the natural environment throughout life. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean “teaching” them about nature. Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners are in a highly developmental stage of life and can become enthralled with nature just by experiencing it in a positive way. Depending on age and ability that experience could come in a multitude of formats like taking a hike, running through an open field, exploring the forest, swimming in the river, looking at the shapes in the clouds, the list goes on. Notice these activities are not information-based, they are sensory-based, centered around experience and observation. Children can learn immeasurably from the smells, feels, and sights they experience. And most importantly a relationship with nature will be fostered through the positive memories they retain.
While the activities listed above are great, sometimes it is nice to have a little bit of structure when working with young children. One of my favorite structured activities for young children is nature-themed yoga in the outdoors. It is wonderful in so many ways because it requires little to no equipment, provides the opportunity for endless creativity, combines physical and mental health, and can be done practically anywhere. You have the freedom to create poses based around any animal or plant you can think of, and if the weather is bad, doing the “nature poses” indoors works too. Yoga is a great activity for children as it can be calming, rewarding, and challenging depending on the goal of the instructor and the individual child. I have had great success with nature yoga activities with preschoolers and kindergartners especially and recommend it as part of a daily routine or for a field trip activity. Although I am not a licensed yoga instructor I have put together a video resource that can be followed along directly or used for inspiration.
Use with caution and at your own risk, but please take the video and run with it with your own children or students.