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Toddler Talk: Nature Walk

The leaves are changing and now falling to the ground. Though the weather is getting brisk, a jacket or some heavy layers usually suffice to make being outside bearable (at least in our part of the country). The grass is still green and there isn’t any snow ... yet. And before the snow covers the ground, it’s time to go out and explore and see what treasures fall has left us!

So, we headed out to our backyard to see how things are changing from warm weather to cold weather. We have wild grape vines along our fence that have creeped over from our neighbor’s yard, and though the veggie garden has been tilled under, there are remnants of the goods that were growing there. Squirrels and birds have been leaving pieces of nuts and feathers behind, and creepy crawlies seem to be hunkering down in places to hide themselves from the crisp air.

With instructions to “Find treasures!” Ramona scoured the yard for anything and everything that caught her eye. I armed her with a basket to collect her finds. She found feathers, sand, long blades of grass and flowers past their prime that still had some great color. There were wilted grapes, clumps of hair from who-knows-what animal, bits of wood, long sticks and stones that she didn’t want to let go of. We watched ants marching one by one and saw birds soaring high in the sky.

When her basket was full, we laid out her loot and sorted through what she had found. I gave her a jar to put all of her newfound treasures in. I loved watching her concentrate: first the dirt and sand, then the rocks and sticks, and then finally the feathers and leaves—her own little collection of goodies.

And now, when we go outside, she seems to take her time a little more to look a little closer at what's going on in the natural world ... and I do too! It’s fascinating to watch her watch this. And I’m thankful she has the space to discover.

What you need:

Nothing, really! Just the great outdoors. But a basket or something to carry your goods in is helpful.

A jar is a great ways to store and display the treasures your little one has found so they can continue to look at them them even after you’ve gone inside and snow has blanketed the ground. Or you can use paper and tape to arrange them and hang them up on the fridge.

What you do:

1. Get outside and encourage your child to keep his eyes open for fun discoveries. Anything is game (though I suggest watching out for “goodies” left by family pets).

2. Have him put whatever tickles his fancy in the collecting basket.

3. Sort through the goodies, and take the time to talk about them and where each one comes from.

4. Find ways to display or store the goods so they last through the winter: in jars, taped to paper, in a little display box or in trinket bowls.

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