I must admit that I can’t really take any credit for this activity. These nature kites were completely conceptualized and created by Lovey and her desire to fly a kite one day while we were playing in the yard. It turned out to be such a wonderful exploration of nature and science, that I couldn’t help but share it with you.
One of the major changes I’ve made in the transition from my role as a classroom teacher to my role as a teacher mom at home is to become more of an observer. I don’t in any way mean that classroom teachers don’t observe and let kids guide their own learning. However, whether it was due to the administrative expectations, curriculum demands, or my need for control in a busy classroom, most of our classroom schedule was very closely dictated and did not always allow the time it takes for the kind of experimentation and exploration Lovey engaged in during this activity. If you are a classroom teacher, maybe you do better than I did at providing this amount of time, and I’m sure your kids appreciate and benefit from it. I’m still learning when to watch and when to guide, and I’m enjoying the process. This activity is a primary example of how free exploration and ample time to learn and experiment is beneficial to kids.
On this day we were enjoying the amazing fall weather and the light breeze that comes with it. All of the kids were intrigued by the leaves rustling in the trees and the occasional flutter of a leaf falling to the ground. Soon Lovey declared she wanted to do a “project.” She began gathering random materials, different size leaves, branches, and grasses. At first I thought she was planning another bug house, one of her favorite creations. But soon she was asking me to try tying different grasses around the stems of leaves and such.
She was very deliberate about discarding broken leaves or ones she thought were too small. And with a little help tying she finally came up with the three nature kites pictured above. She and her sister then tested out each kite to see which ones would fly the best. They were intrigued by the differences, but soon they decided to tuck them away in a safe place to wait for a “super windy day” to try flying them again.
The next day she spotted these much larger leaves and small branches that had fallen near our local zoo. You should have seen the excitement and heard the shrieks of delight! She knew immediately that she wanted to make a new nature kite when we got home. This time she added a few new materials, mainly longer yarn and the spray bottle. She said she need the string because this was a bigger kite and it needed a longer string to fly higher. The water bottle, she said, was to make the leaves a little wet. They were dry and she didn’t want them to break while she was making her kite.
And I thought we were “just” outside enjoying the weather! How about you? Are you better at sitting back and following your child’s lead or you still learning like me?
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More Outdoor Learning & Fun with The Garden Classroom
If you’re hoping to find a little more inspiration for outdoor learning and play, you might be interested in The Garden Classroom. It has been a wonderful resource for us this year, and I love that it includes such a wide variety of activities. In addition to great tips about gardening with kids, there are literacy, math, science, craft, and play ideas.
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More Math and Science Activities with Fizz, Pop, Bang!
Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities is designed to bring hands-on fun to math and science play. It’s full of engaging and powerful learning opportunities in math and science, shared through ideas that incorporate art, play, sensory learning and discovery, for a whole-brain approach.
It includes 40 educational projects and 20 printables including a set of build-your-own 3D shape blocks, engineering challenge cards and a range of math games.