Monday, June 25, 2012

Take a hike: developing an appreciation for nature

This morning on my walk with Suki (my fabulous furry friend)  I noticed baby squirrels skittering across the road, blooming patches of Indian Paintbrush flowers, and a bunny hiding in the shade of a Cedar. I am sure that my appreciation of nature comes from early visits to city parks, National Parks, and camping.  Summer is the perfect time to introduce your child to the great outdoors. It is far easier to get children to recycle and stop littering when they have an appreciation of nature.  Get your child excited by the vision of making a difference at home, in the neighborhood, and ultimately in the world.  Enter an amazing new book (2011) by author and illustrator Patrick McDonnell, Me . . . Jane.  This book presents the ultimate lesson in big dreams with many small steps along the way.  It is a terrific conversation spark about following your interests, nature, and the love of learning.

Me . . . Jane is the story of how a young girl developed a lifelong interest in animals, the environment, observation, and learning.  The girl was Jane Goodall who later went on to change the world's thinking about animal behavior and continues to inspire others to care about the environment and social issues.  McDonnell has included some actual drawings from her childhood notebooks as well as a message from Dr. Goodall remarking that "each one of us makes a difference." This book shows how big dreams are realized. The resulting effect of illustration and text is more than magical, it is inspiring and empowering for little people. (You will like it too!)

Be a Storytelling Parent:
Pre-Read the story before you have storytelling time. Turn off all technology and tune in to your child. Find a cozy spot to snuggle and read the book all the way through.  Add some drama to the big reveal near the end of the book.

Conversation Sparks
What animals do you notice in our backyard (or the park)? 
Where is your favorite place to imagine when you are outside?
What do you like to think about?
Jane was curious about where eggs come from . . .
What things in nature do you wonder about?  How could we learn more about those things?

Jane wanted one day to work with animals in Africa.  What did she do to get ready for her grown up life?  What made her think that she would like that job?
What are some of your ideas about what you would like to do when you are older?
What are some things we could do now to learn more about those jobs?

Extention Activities:
Take a walk in your neighborhood or park and observe local wild life, pick up fallen leaves to bring home and look up the names of the trees. 
Go to the zoo and watch the animals that are most interesting to your child.  Make observations out loud and encourage your child to dialogue about what he/she notices about animal behavior.
Visit the children's section of the library to check out books about your child's current interests.  
Check out Jane Goodall's foundation to inspire you with more ideas about empowering you and your child to make a difference together

Please share your experience in storytelling with this book- Happy Reading!

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