By Beth Pinyerd
I love walking my little dog early in the morning! Everything is so peaceful and quiet as the sun rises.
Not having to do the typical morning rush encourages your children to embark on an early morning nature field trip. I know this will take planning and encouragement for children to rise and shine, but it can be fun for them and parents alike!
Children are naturally fascinated with nature. They are natural little observers. I would like to share some simple ideas for children and families to enjoy an “early morning field trip” right around your home and neighborhood. There are special sightings in nature that can be observed in the early morning hours.
First, we can expect to be met with a beautiful sunrise on a clear morning.
Scientific little minds will question how the sun moves. In young children’s language, parents can explain that it is actually the earth that is moving. This is where you can teach that the earth is rotating on its axis every 24 hours as it orbits around the sun every 365.25 days.
There are many wonderful lessons online to teach this concept. In my early childhood classroom, I simply used a flashlight as the sun and a globe or the earth to teach the concept of rotation and orbit.
If you don’t have a globe or flashlight, just assign your children to act out the parts of the sun by making them stand still while you walk and step around them to demonstrate the concept of the sun’s orbit. Your children will love the motion of this simple science lesson.
Don’t forget to look at possible clouds with different shapes. Usually on spring mornings, you will see feathery clouds called “cirrus” or cotton-ball shaped clouds called “cumulus.” As we know, these clouds may bring us showers later on in the day.
We are in the season of spring which brings on many beautiful sights to see, hear and feel. We are leaving winter behind, and with spring beginning, we are met by luscious green foliage and grass everywhere!
Early in the morning, dew meets our eyes and can appear as diamonds and feel wet to our hands and feet. This is a good thing to observe, feel and explain to your children.
In children’s language, dew is simply water in the form of droplets which appear on leaves, grass and other foliage. Children may ask if this is caused by rain?
This is where you can introduce the term water vapor. Water vapor can be shown by boiling water and letting your children observe the steam. This water vapor becomes droplets when the temperature drops at night.
Another beautiful spring sight which greets us is flowers blooming. Children will notice the little yellow, violet and white flowers that grow near the ground. Little hands can pick them for a morning bouquet!
Early in the morning the air seems fresher to smell and breathe before daily life seems to start. There seems to be nature’s healing medicine in fresh air. You and your children will notice sweet aromas in the air. These are coming from the dews, flowers and green leaves bursting forth.
During the spring, grass has to be mowed quite regularly, so the fresh smell of cut grass is another scent that your children can identify and talk about on the early morning field trip. As you and your children explore, take time to smell spring’s bouquet of aromas.
Nature provides beautiful sounds for your children to listen and enjoy. The chatter and chirping of birds as they meet the morning sunrise is a very good choir of cheerfulness and morning joy. You and your children can be still and listen to the birds welcoming in a day of promise.
Your child can follow a sound to see a cozy nest hidden among green foliage in a bush or tree. I love it when birds make their home for their families in the ferns on my porch. Let the children know that this is a looking and observing time and to not touch the nests.
They can also hear the sounds of owls still hooting as day goes from night to morning. Depending on where you live, you might hear ducks and geese honking and quacking in the early morning.
Little frogs called peepers also make cheerful noises to welcome in the day! I have come upon toads hopping up early in the morning with their croaking.
I get just glimpses of moths and butterflies as they fly about to gather nectar for the day, but truly they are more active during the middle of the day and afternoon. Your child may see bugs or worms crawling through the grass on early mornings.
I know that these are just a few simple suggestions. But families, I wanted to get you started on trying something that normally we just don’t have time to do. Truly amidst these trying times, this is “Our Father’s World” and early morning gratefulness to God’s World is a beautiful way for us to start our days.
Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in Opelika and Baldwin County. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education as well as a bachelor’s degree in family and child development both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. The Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures, and events by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.