6 ways to enjoy nature with your preschooler
It’s officially summer! The sun is shining, the weather is warm, animals are out and about, and families are exploring the outdoors.
Below are Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s activity ideas for you to enjoy nature with your preschooler this season.
Embark on a nature scavenger hunt
Summer is the perfect time to hike with preschoolers. Bring along a nature scavenger hunt for your child to discover new things in the forest – or even in your own back yard (printable scavenger hunts are available at lensc.org/visit/virtual-learning).
For the littlest of hikers, we recommend gathering a box of crayons or paint samples so that they can match them with colorful things in nature.
Explore nature at night
Cuddle up around a bonfire, enjoy a round of s’mores and observe the sights and sounds around you. Listening for owls, looking for lightning bugs and learning how to identify constellations make for a perfect summer night.
If your preschooler cannot stay awake until dark, spend your summer observing the moon. Full moons will occur on July 23 and Aug. 22. Look for the full moon rising as the sun sets.
No butterflies will be harmed in this Lake Erie Nature & Science Center preschool favorite! For this backyard activity, all you will need are butterfly nets and bubble liquid. Blow bubbles for the kids to catch!
Make nature sensory bottles
Nature sensory bottles can be a calming activity for your preschooler after a busy summer day.
First, find a mason jar or any clear container with a lid. Fill it with pieces of nature, such as flower petals, leaves or pebbles, then top it with water. Shake the jar and watch as the pieces of nature settle — and your preschooler settles, too!
Grab a few books, bring a blanket to sit on, find a tree to lean up against or build an outdoor fort. Read together or allow your child time to read to themselves – whichever feels appropriate.
Some of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s favorite preschool books include "The Hike" by Alison Farrell; "Waiting" by Kevin Henkes; and "Stick and Stone" by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld.
Combine hiking and reading with Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s storybook trail (located north of the facility), which features "Owl Babies" by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson.
Visit Lake Erie Nature & Science Center
Need a break from the summer heat? Lake Erie Nature & Science Center offers free general admission to indoor and outdoor animal exhibits and natural history displays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Planetarium shows such as Twinkle Tots and Stellar Stars cost $5 per person and are specifically designed for preschool children.
To plan your visit, head to www.lensc.org.
Morgan Paskert is on staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.