Are you near a window? Look outside, what do you see? Even if you are stuck inside like our Nature in the City students are sometimes on a cold blustery day, connecting with the nature right outside their windows can be the first step of connecting to the nature in their neighborhood!
Our 4th grade students are learning about energy and how it flows through ecosystems. Looking outside we are able to observe how many producers we see vs. consumers. “There are way more trees out there than animals!” they say. This supports what we are teaching them and rather than just tell them, they are making the conclusions themselves by direct observations as young scientists. Often, we are lucky to observe a crow landing to hunt for food or noticing footprints leading to the trees, could they be from a squirrel? In January our fifth graders will start their new Nature in the City lessons and will learn how to identify different tracks and interpret what the evidence is telling them about what might have occurred right in the greenspace around their school.
These connections become even more apparent when we have perfect weather days and students can not only observe but experience the natural world firsthand. When our first grade students are prepared to go outside all bundled up with their snowflake catcher in hand, they catch the snow falling in tiny crystals and get a better look with their magnifying lenses. They shout and jump when they can count all six points and see that the snowflakes look like miniature stars. They are proud of their findings and are excited to show their teachers, friends, and us. In this moment, they truly feel like snow scientists and without realizing it have made a connection with nature that they will never forget. That in turn makes us feel we have done our job for the day, showing them the Nature in the City!