Noticing Nature: Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families- August 2016

Noticing Nature - Monthly Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families: August 2016

August has always been one of my favorite months. I love the deep yellows of Goldenrod and Black-Eyed-Susans punctuating the landscape. I savor the last of the leisurely summer days. And there is something about the hot days and cooling nights that awaken some long forgotten visceral senses.

August is also a great month to play with water. Specifically, rain. If there hasn’t been much rain, or won’t be, where you live, grab a spray bottle and a bucket and read on.

Rain Symphony

Did you know that rain can create a symphony of sounds? The next time there is a good steady rain, put on your rain gear and head outside to listen to all the marvelous sounds playing around you. Look for different surfaces and listen closely to how the sound of rain varies on each one. Maybe you’ll hear a muffled plunk on moss or a loud splat against a rock. How does the rain sound as it plops onto a leaf? Can you make out a melody as drops splash into a puddle?

Create a Rain Print

Are you familiar with Andrew Goldsworthy? He creates amazing pieces of ephemeral land art using leaves, twigs, rocks and the likes. One of his outdoor works is created only with rain and his own body. He calls them “rain shadows” and he has been known to lay in place for hours while immersed in this work.  Mr. Goldsworthy says, “The point is not just to make the shadow, it’s to understand the rain that falls and the relationship with rain and the different rhythms of different rainfalls.” How wonderful is that?!

Your children can follow suit and create their own rain shadows or they can create rain prints using various objects such as rocks, leaves (weighted down), and other items with a fairly flat surface. It is best done during a light rain but do feel free to explore the results from different rains.

Ephemeral Puddle Art

Like land art except on water. Gather some natural, lightweight objects like leaves, twigs, or flower petals. Find a calm, small body of water like a pond or a puddle. Use the objects from nature to create a temporary “picture” on the water’s surface. If the water is shallow and clear, you could also create a design on the bottom using rocks.

Notice how the objects interact with the water. Do they stay in place? Do they let any water seep through? Do they become slightly transparent or deepen in color? What else do you notice?

Noticing Nature - Monthly Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families: August 2016

Make Some Ripples

Children find water fascinating and water play can be a focusing and calming activity for many. But it is so much more than play. Children are observing, investigating, experimenting, theorizing. They are getting hands-on experience with scientific concepts. Encourage them to investigate waves by making some ripples.

The next time you are near still water (like a puddle or pond), take some time to play with ripples. Toss in a pebble and notice the ripple pattern. Would a leaf dropped onto the water’s surface create the same pattern? What kind of ripples would appear if you lightly tapped a straight stick on the water’s surface? What if you dropped two pebbles side by side? What other ripple patterns can you create?

Resources to Inspire

Download and print the August prompts and be prepared to get wet. Have fun!

P.S. Please keep safety in mind at all times during any water play. Also, use water conscientiously. If you are using water from the tap for any of these activities, find a way to put it to good use when the play is through (like watering plants).



3 thoughts on “Noticing Nature: Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families- August 2016

    • Has your state been experiencing a drought, Sara? If that’s the case, I do hope there will be some relief soon! I remember an extended period without rain and how good it felt, right down to the cellular level, when it finally rained. I was torn about sharing rain-related activities knowing that so many people are in desperate need. In the end I decided that it’s important for kids to connect to this vital element of nature and I want to help them do so in positive, playful ways.


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