A Resource For Early Childhood Educators

Learning Is Fun

Spring 2014

Spring is here On March 20!  Robins, turkey vultures, and a few blackbirds have been seen in southern Iowa, Signs of spring in Iowa are here even if the we get a spring blizzard!  The weather does not always cooperate. 

So, how can you incorporate environmental education at this time of year?  The KinderNature website has just what you need for each season!    For preschoolers, try Nature Tots-Earth Day; Nature Tots-Birds, Beaver; Nature Tots-Eggs.  For toddlers, try April Showers, May Flowers; Rain or Shine; Over in the Garden; Over in the Forest; Dandy Lion;, Gone Fishing; and Over in the Pond. 

Playin’ in the mud! That’s what I did growing up! Mud, a sandbox, a playhouse, and the cherry tree to climb are my memories of childhood. Today, it seems that our children are not encouraged to participate in these activities.  Being clean, watching TV, and spending time at the computer seem to be a higher priority.

So Story County Conservation decided to do something about it!  KinderNature was created to help early childcare educators, care givers, and parents incorporate nature into their curriculums and lives. All the activities were reviewed for age appropriateness and the multiple intelligences. Representatives from the Iowa Association for the Education of the Young Child, childcare providers, preschool educators, and kindergarten educators made up our advisory team. 

KinderNature's long-term goal is to have a website targeting preschool teachers and child care staff to assist in learning, developing, and implementing a well-balanced environmental education (EE) preschool program.  The intent is for childcare providers to have developmentally appropriate programs which incorporate a variety of learning styles and stimulate within the child an excitement for learning.  Environmental preschool programs can spark an environmental awareness and lay a solid foundation for the school-age environmental education building blocks that result in adults having the ability to make sound environmental decisions.  


Book Activity - Will You Read To Me?

Take time to enjoy a story.

What brain research says: Reading or telling a story to your child will help “grow” her brain and encourage her to associate books with what she loves the most--your voice and closeness. The brain cells are “turned on,” new connections are made, and existing connections are strengthened by experiences with stories. An adult’s vocabulary is largely determined by speech heard within the first three years.


A child’s capacity to learn and thrive in a variety of settings depends on the interplay between nature (their genetic endowment) and nurture (the kinds of care, stimulation, and teaching they receive).


Spring Activity – May Flowers

Daisy Dip

Find a daisy or two with a large, firm flower head.  Cut off most of the stem, leaving enough for your child to use as a handle.  Have your toddler dip the daisy head into a pie tin of paint (any color).  Make daisy-shaped stampings on white paper.  Try other objects from nature such as a dandelion, a stone, a small leaf, half an apple, etc. 

Skills Developed:  creativity; fine and gross motor; sense of sight and touch.


Outdoor Fun Activity

Take your toddler outside and discover all kinds of wonderful things.

Feel the wind in your hair

Feel the raindrops on your face

Smell a flower

Watch a butterfly

Hold a worm in your hand

Lie in the grass and look at the clouds

Squish your toes in the mud

Taste fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden

Skills Developed: nature appreciation.  Expose your little one to a variety of sensory stimuli--colors, music, language, natural and mechanical sounds, touch, smell, taste--to ensure that, as an adult, she will have the most flexible brain power for learning.


Be sure and try the new activities that are added each year, including:

Toddling on the Wild Side;  Critters in the Litter; Critters Close Up; May Flowers; Magical Seeds; Moonlight Madness; Naturally Sense-ational; Rain or Shine; Starlight, Star Bright; Treasure Hunt; and Yummy Plants! 

"The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil," Rachel Carson said in her book, A Sense of Wonder. KinderNature is providing activities and ideas to do just that!

We want to hear from YOU!

We encourage early childhood educators to send “nature/science” activities that have worked in the classroom or at home to adminicec@hotmail.com.  We’ll review them and give you credit on the KinderNature website. 


We hope you will check out our links page, too.  There are many other exciting sites to visit!




It’s winter in Iowa.  Blizzards, melting and extreme weather are the norm.  KinderNature has many activities for winter.  Try blowing bubbles outside…see what happens.

Here are some winter facts about how animals survive in the winter.

Some animals are not adapted for life in the winter, and when it starts to get cold they go into a deep sleep known as hibernation.

·         Hibernation is not really about sleeping.

o   To hibernate actually means to go into a dormant or inactive state, in which your normal bodily functions (metabolism) slows right down, it conserve their energy

·         Build them a nest, sometimes called hibernacula.

·         Woodchucks, hibernate --Bats, bears, ground squirrels, are in torpor -- Insects & frogs, turtles and snakes become dormant. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, and the frogs and turtles can breathe by absorbing it through their skin.

·         SKUNKS, BADGERS, and RACCOONS do not hibernate for the entire winter.

o   Temperature rises they come out and find food to eat.

Mammals grow thick coats.

         members of the deer family grow long thick coats.
They eat a lot in the summer and fall to put on extra fat to help them live through the cold winters. Deer feeds on leaves, buds, young bark and twigs
Deep snow makes it difficult for deer to escape from predators (hunters) like wolves and coyotes.

         Animals store food.

         SQUIRRELS hide nuts and pine cones to eat. They also like to visit bird feeders. They stay in their dens for very cold days and nibble on the food they have stored.

         Change – Camouflage

         The weasel's coat turns from brown to white in the fall.
Only the tip of the tail stays black. The white coat helps the weasel to sneak up on its prey.
Weasels eat small rodents (mice, voles), ground squirrels, and birds.
This animal is useful to man because they keep the mice and rat populations from becoming too large.

         Here are several activities for the winter: Snow Tots 1 & 11; Snow House; Snow Tots "Lunch is served!" Camouflage Tots. 

We want your ideas, hints, secrets, help us help you by submitting your nature activities to us at: adminicec@hotmail.com

Resource Enhancement And Protection Conservation Education Program

The conservation education program shall serve Iowa citizens by providing effective curricula, program materials and educator stipends to increase environmental awareness and enhance understanding of stewardship and enhance natural resources.

The Iowa REAP-CEP is partially funded by proceeds from the sale of special license plates that commemorate the state’s nature resources. 


Chloe's Words of WisdomCartoon Frog

What Children Learn When They Play

Building with blocks:  Children build and play with blocks or other objects.  Helps children learn scientific, mathematical, art, social studies, and language concepts as well as develop small motor skills.

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Booklist for Camouflage

Booklist for Camouflage