How we support pupils or clients in developing a deeper connection with the natural world around has profound effects, both on health and wellbeing, but also on improving critical thinking skills, observation skills and activating their senses.

We can do this in so many ways, but here are a few to get you started.

  • Nature Observation: Begin each circle time by asking children to share something they observed in nature recently. It could be a flower, a bird, a cloud, or even the weather. Encourage them to use their senses to describe what they noticed.
  • Nature Sounds: Play a recording of natural sounds like birdsong, waves, or rustling leaves. Have children close their eyes and listen carefully. Afterward, discuss what sounds they heard and how it made them feel.
  • Seasonal Changes: Talk about the current season and the changes happening in nature. Ask children what they like most about this season and what activities they enjoy doing outdoors during this time.
  • Nature Stories: Share nature-themed books or stories during circle time. After reading, have a discussion about the story’s themes, characters, and what the children learned about nature from it.
  • Nature Art: Bring in natural materials like leaves, sticks, or rocks, and encourage children to create art with them. This can include leaf rubbings, nature collages, or rock painting. Discuss the materials and where they come from.
  • Nature Riddles: Present riddles related to animals, plants, or natural phenomena. For example, “I have feathers, and I can fly. What am I?” Let the children take turns guessing the answers.
  • Nature Journals: Provide children with small notebooks and colored pencils. Encourage them to draw or write about their favorite outdoor experiences. Share and discuss their journal entries during circle time.
  • Outdoor Adventure Planning: Ask children to plan an outdoor adventure for the next week or month. They can decide on the location, activities, and what they hope to discover in nature. Discuss their plans and help them prepare.
  • Weather Observations: Discuss the day’s weather and how it might affect outdoor play. Encourage children to share their favorite weather conditions and what they like to do on sunny, rainy, or snowy days.
  • Nature Songs and Rhymes: Teach songs and rhymes related to nature, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “I’m a Little Teapot.” Create hand motions or movements that mimic animals or natural elements.
  • Nature Show and Tell: Invite children to bring in a nature-related item from home, like a seashell, a pinecone, or a pet’s picture. They can share what they brought and talk about its connection to nature.
  • Bird Watching: If you have a window with a view of outdoor space, dedicate some circle time to bird watching. Provide binoculars or use a bird identification book to help children identify the birds they see.
  • Nature Questions: Encourage children to ask questions about the natural world. Write down their questions and take time during circle time to explore and find answers together.
  • Nature Meditation: Teach simple mindfulness or meditation exercises with a nature focus. Have children close their eyes, take deep breaths, and imagine themselves in a calming natural environment.
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of items or natural features for a scavenger hunt in the outdoor area. Children can work in teams or individually to find and share what they discovered.
  • Grounding exercises We have some good ones here
  • Treasure box activities, where you have box filled with natural treasures and finds to pass round the group.

With an older group it might be worth discussing or trying some of these as ways to deepen our connection to the natural world.

  1. Nature Journaling: Set aside time each day or week to keep a nature journal. Record your observations, sketches, or even poetry inspired by the natural world around you. This practice can help you become more attuned to the subtle beauty of nature.
  2. Mindful Nature Walks: Take a leisurely walk in a natural setting, such as a park, forest, or along a beach. Pay close attention to your senses – the rustling of leaves, the scent of flowers, the feel of the breeze on your skin. Practice mindfulness and immerse yourself in the present moment.
  3. Birdwatching: Invest in a pair of binoculars and a field guide to birds in your region. Spend time watching and identifying the birds that visit your area. You can even set up bird feeders to attract more feathered friends to your backyard.
  4. Stargazing: Head away from city lights to a location with a clear view of the night sky. Bring a telescope or simply lay on a blanket and gaze at the stars. Learn about constellations and celestial events to deepen your connection to the cosmos.
  5. Outdoor Yoga or Meditation: Practice yoga or meditation in a natural setting. Find a peaceful spot, whether it’s a meadow, a beach, or a quiet corner of a park. The combination of mindfulness and nature can be incredibly grounding and rejuvenating.
  6. Plant a Garden: Cultivate your own garden, whether it’s a small balcony garden, a flower bed, or a vegetable patch. Tending to plants and watching them grow can create a strong bond with the natural world.
  7. Nature Photography: Take up photography as a hobby and focus on capturing the beauty of nature. Experiment with different angles, lighting, and subjects, and share your photos with others to inspire their connection to nature.
  8. Camping or Backpacking: Spend extended time in the wilderness by camping or backpacking. Disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the natural world. Campfires, hiking, and sleeping under the stars can be transformative experiences.
  9. Learn About Local Flora and Fauna: Study the plants and animals native to your region. Understand their life cycles, behaviors, and ecological roles. The more you know, the more you’ll appreciate the intricate web of life in your area.
  10. Volunteer for Conservation: Get involved in local conservation efforts or join a nature-focused volunteer group. Participating in activities like tree planting, wildlife habitat restoration, or clean-up events can deepen your sense of responsibility for the environment.
  11. Nature Retreats: Consider attending a nature retreat or workshop focused on mindfulness, ecology, or sustainable living. These immersive experiences can provide valuable insights and connections with like-minded individuals.
  12. Nature-Based Art: Explore various art forms inspired by nature, such as painting, sculpture, or even land art. Create works that reflect your personal connection to the natural world and share them with others.
  13. Nature Education: Teach others about the importance of nature and its conservation. Organize educational events, workshops, or talks in your community to raise awareness and foster a deeper connection to nature in others.
  14. Read Nature Literature: Dive into the works of naturalists and authors who have explored their connections to the natural world, such as Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, or Aldo Leopold.
  15. Mindful Eating: Pay attention to where your food comes from and how it’s grown. Try to consume more locally sourced and sustainably produced foods. This practice can deepen your appreciation for the natural systems that nourish us.
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