Our natural world is the perfect classroom on so many levels. The world is full of color, vibrancy, life, science, history. It is an inspiration for art, writing, music and dance. And, our world is so mathematical.
Not exactly what you were expecting?
But, it is. The natural world is FULL of symmetry, geometry, functionality, balance, and patterns. And, because children love the outdoors, what better place to feed their sometimes insatiable desire to learn than outside?
Teaching young children about patterns is a natural part of our world. Begin by looking at simple, man-made structures, such as fences, bridges, architecture, even sidewalks. Find patterns in brickwork, woodwork, painting and even in everyday things such as the parking lot of a store or the windows on a building.
Once a child understands the basic concept of a pattern (a sequence that repeats itself over and over), look for examples in nature. Many plants actually grow in a patterned state. The Vitex (also known as a Texas Lavender) puts off flowers in plumes grouped in threes on each branch. Look at the petals of flowers – do all the flowers have the same number of petals? What about trees? Do the leaves grow in some sort of organized pattern?
Look for small bugs and other critters that exhibit patterns, such as ladybugs and butterflies. These animals also lend themselves well to teaching SYMMETRY (mirror imaging). Larger animals, such as horses, can be observed for patterns in the way they walk or run. The “sound” of galloping is a great auditory pattern. Listen for patterns with crickets and birds as well.
Take advantage of the warmer, sunnier days and enjoy the scenery with a child. You never know what they might learn in the process!