observation is such a basic learning tool, springtime provides an ideal
climate for learning outdoors. A nature walk or a picnic provide excellent
opportunities for discovery, observation and discussion. Here are some
suggestions for using a stroll outdoors as a vehicle for expanding
vocabulary, practicing listening and memory skills and pointing out basic
1) Devote a portion of your walk to "listening." Talk about
what you hear (birds singing, leaves rustling, water running). See if you
can locate where the sounds are coming from.
2) Explore the textures and smells you find along the way. Touch the
rough bark, the smooth leaves, the soft moss and hard rocks. Smell the
sweet flowers and the dusty road.
3) Compare the trees, animals, flowers and rocks you observe as same or
different in color, shape, and size.
4) Use such descriptive words as above, below, between, under, next to,
inside, small, medium and large in making reference to the things you
5) Look for tracks and "houses" of animals. Talk about where
the animals live, what they eat and how they stay warm.
6) Discuss the "best parts" of your trip when you get home.
It's not only satisfying to recall fun events together, but such
reminiscing is also good practice for your child's memory skills.
Have an enjoyable and productive spring.
Reprinted with permission from the
National Network for Child Care -