Mamas, when it comes to teaching your children, authentic excitement about learning is catching! When it comes to helping them grow in observation skills, truly more is caught than taught. when we are excited about finding beautiful things in nature around us, they will be too!
It may be that you have a budding scientist (or nature writer or artist or photographer) in your home, and he or she may just need their eyes to be opened. After all, observation is the foundation of teaching our children to be learners…to direct them to excellent things, discover their God-given passions, and develop them to the fullest.
For years, when the kids were younger, I tried to develop the art of really seeing! We were on the ready to find beautiful and unusual things and to study them more than a cursory glance. We often actually stopped what we are doing…we got all excited…and we looked for hidden beauty and design in the details!
Last week when my husband and I were working together on the blackberry patch behind the garden, I noticed a black swallowtail butterfly just exiting its chrysalis in the parsley.
I began taking note of what I saw. This butterfly’s wings were still slightly wet and not yet full size so it was not able to fly. We noticed the greenish tint to the veins in the wings.
The beautiful, but damp, adult had already emerged and was pumping a liquid called hemo-lymph into the veins to inflate the wings. Kind of like pumping up a deflated bike tire. At this time as they are very vulnerable to predators.
Host plants of the swallowtail family include members of the parsley family: carrot, parsley, dill, and Queen Anne’s lace.
One of the reasons (besides food value) of growing dill and parsley annually is to witness the yearly attraction of the black swallowtail to our little potager. I see them floating above the plants many days right outside the kitchen window. As the summer progresses, you will most certainly find caterpillars.
You can construct a simple butterfly house and feed it fresh host plant every day; it is likely to make a chrysalis, and later emerge completing its life cycle.
This 2″ (young) caterpillar is on my parsley – eating away. I have enough parsley to spare for him and a few buddies.
Opportunity To Sharpen Observation Skills
I watched it happen! We all heard it!
This flash of yellow and a sharp, heavy thump on the glass! A tiny little palm warbler dropped to the concrete of our back porch. Oh, it made our stomachs churn, but we grabbed the camera and rushed out anyway to see if we could help. The injured or dead bird just lay there, totally still, with her feet tucked up under her tummy.
All of a sudden, her eyes flickered open. She struggled to right herself, and we were just inches above her holding our breathes. She was probably dazed and not afraid of us.
It was a sunny, chilly, and very windy day. My daughter was right there beside me to hold the camera, and we took a 1 minute video to share. I will then tell you what happened.
After we set her down in a little spot among the cobalt blue bugle weed, we watched off and on the whole afternoon and into chilly dusk. She became more alert, but didn’t fly away. The area of my garden is fenced, so there would be no threat of a cat, thankfully. In the morning our dear little friend had left. No sign of struggle, no feathers. She had shown signs of moving, so we decided to leave her in the hands of God who knows…she would have certainly died in ours.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” ~Matthew 10: 29
Develop your Child’s Observation Skills:
- Develop your childrens’ skills on walks in parks, on a nearby farm or orchard, or on your own property. Tell them that you want them to find 5 beautiful examples of God’s creation, such as an acorn, a leaf, a butterfly, a bird’s nest, or a plant. If possible, have your children draw what they found in a notebook and label it.
- If you have older children, allow them time to use a camera to take photos of nature. You can help your child start and maintain a small photo journal of their finds.
- If you come across some neat insect or plant while by yourself, take it and show your children. Develop observation skills and ask them to help you identify it.
- If you see a beautiful bird, scary snake, or other animal/insect, pull out an identification guide and look up the animal. Read about the creature, find out if it is poisonous, where it lives, its habitat and what it eats.
- If you find unique things growing on a leaf or a small insect, grab your magnifying glass and show your children the intricacies of God’s creation.
- Sometime when it’s snowing outside, put on gloves and let snowflakes fall into your hands. Take a magnifying glass and look at the design closely. Read more about the hidden beauty of the snowflake here.
Observing even the tiniest intricacies of nature builds in us a thankful attitude for the marvelous creation all around us, and it creates a mind eager and ready to observe in all areas of life.
Pin It! Pin It!
Thanks for reading!