Nature fun: Videos & activities for early learners

By Shelley Harris, Children’s Librarian

Jenny and I are huge fans of nature programming at the library. We’ve offered nature classes for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary-aged kids, and kids of all ages with disabilities, for years. That’s because nature allows us to expand learning in both reading and science!

As Anne of Green Gables would say, there’s so much scope for the imagination when you’re outside. You can:

  • Develop understanding of the five senses: sight, taste, sound, feeling, smell.
  • Explore general vocabulary: colors and descriptions.
  • Practice science vocabulary: bigger and smaller, heavier and lighter.
  • Try making hypotheses: What will happen if I pick up a cicada to show Miss Shelley? I think she will be excited because she likes being outside. Results: Nope, she ran away screaming.

Enjoy some nature fun together with these videos and activities!

Watch these videos

In this Early Bird Reader video, we share some favorite words about nature and gardening.

Jenny loves to sing “There’s Something in the Park” in our nature classes, because the answers can always change! Do we find penguins in the park? No way! Do we find dogs in the park? Yes!

Try these activities

Child-led exploration and play is a wonderful way to help children grow their confidence and expand their capabilities. Read this article from Michigan State University for more information »

  • We put together BINGO cards for families to use in a park or on a walk. Every time you refresh, you’ll get a new card! There are 30 total.
  • Mr. Ian created Observe, Think, Wonder guides (pdf) for things you can find in parks around town. What will your family add?
  • Make a sticky name plate. Lay down double-sided tape in the shape of a letter or their name, and let kids add grass.
  • Draw chalk circles on the sidewalk. Can you find something outside that is each color you colored? What is the biggest thing you found? The smallest?
  • Do leaf and bark rubbings with paper and crayons. How did they feel different? Did your crayons match the color of what you found, or are they different?

Explore these library resources

The library has plenty of kits to help support kids exploring nature!

You also can check out museum passes to visit outdoor and nature experiences like Brookfield Zoo, Cantigny Park, Chicago Botanic Garden, and more. 

Shelley Harris

About Shelley

Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.