4 Ways to Start a Nature Collection

By Liska Myers

After the blinding brightness and scorching heat of summer days, autumn brings pleasant warmth to colours and air, which makes the evenings so pleasant that we like to spend them outdoors. Sometimes we get no further than our backyard, sitting on the lawn as Canada geese flock in the sky overhead. Other times we drive to a nearby forest and walk for a couple of hours, looking for beautiful leaves.

For our son, it is his favourite part of the day. Finding a stick in the grass, he struts around and whacks the tall grass. Or he throws rocks in the river. Or he searches for pine cones to add to his autumn collection. For, in the eyes of a child, autumn is a time to start a nature collection, of course! An ornate leaf here and a chestnut there. An acorn cap, and there is an acorn itself. A piece of bark can be turned into a boat later. We cannot help but get into the mood of his search. After the inevitable arrival of winter, our little nature collection will bring back memories of these walks.

How can you start a nature collection?

First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with bringing home the finest specimens of rocks and leaves for display. But when your baskets get full of treasures, you may want to suggest a new way of making a collection! Here are a few ideas:

1.  Bring a camera on a walk in the forest and encourage children to take pictures of everything that seems interesting to them. Even a three-year-old can operate a simple camera, and the results will be fascinating for everyone. How often as parents we wish to take a look at the world through children's eyes! Here is our chance.

2.  A nature collection does not have to consist of rocks and leaves only – make a collection of birds, mammals, or insects. Suggest to make lists of all the animals you see. If you have a few children and they are a game for a little competition, keep lists separate and compare them at the end of the walk. Seasoned bird watchers do it!

3.  A good addition to a nature walk will be a field guide. Look for field guides to trees, birds, wildflowers, or insects, specific to your area. In North America, Peterson, Kaufman and National Audubon Society guides are especially popular among nature lovers. They will help children identify and learn new species, which they might never be able to put a name to otherwise.

4.  Take notepads with you when you take nature walks, then find a nice sun-warmed rock to sit on and sketch leaves, trees, or insects that you see, and label them if you can. If you have not drawn for a long time, try it anyway! It is not about the quality of your sketches, but about making memories and having fun, like playing a game of Pictionary.

What are your favourite things to do together with children when you go for a walk?

Liska Myers is an author of the blog, Adventure in a Box, where she shares ideas on how to make wooden toys, set up a home puppet theatre, and choose the best children's books. Accompanied by her husband and son, she lives and adventures in Ontario, Canada.

Posted on Sep 29, 2014

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