How do we connect multicultural picture books with STEM to help very young children engage in active discovery and enthusiastic learning across the curriculum? Read on for picture books you can pair with nature exploration for joyful learning.
Books That Connect to Nature Fun
Flower Garden (Eve Bunting/Kathryn Hewitt)
What’s Your Favorite Bug? (Eric Carle and Friends)
Little Naturalists: Wangari Maathai Planted Trees (Kate Coombs/Seth Lucas)
Planting a Rainbow (Lois Ehlert)
Carl and the Meaning of Life (Deborah Freedman)
Under Ground (Denise Fleming)
This Is the Nest that Robin Built (Denise Fleming)
We All Play (Julie Flett)
Beehive (Jorey Hurley)
What’s In Your Pocket Collecting Nature’s Treasures (Heather L Montgomery/Maribel Lechuga)
A Beautiful House for Birds (Grace Lin)
This is How I Know (Brittany Luby/Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley)
Words of the World: Plants (Montomitsu Maehara)
Tap the Magic Tree (Christie Matheson)
Being Frog (April Pulley Sayre)
We Are Grateful (Traci Sorell/Frane Lessac)
Nature Exploration as An Opportunity for Building Connected Experiences
Pairing nature exploration with playful learning (and good multicultural books) is a wonderful way to build connected experiences with your child. Some activities you might consider trying include:
Take a closer look: Put a hula hoop on the ground. Give your little a magnifying glass and spend time exploring that tiny world. You’ll be amazed at all the interesting things you might find.
Collect treasures: On your nature walk, allow your child to safely collect artifacts (pebbles, shells, feathers, flowers. When you return, encourage your child to sort the items. What looks the same? What looks different? Talk about colors and shapes and textures. Encourage your child to talk about their treasures.
Enjoy a nature walk. Take a walk around the block. What do you see? Birds in the tree? Bugs on the ground? Clouds in the sky? No matter where you live, a walk around the neighborhood offers many opportunities to observe and talk about the things you see. As a bonus, you can bring the things you see outside into regular play. In the photo above, we took walks and saw ducks (and read about ducks). In the classroom, Ella extended that knowledge by sorting, stacking, and counting rubber ducks as she made up stories about a duck parade.
Nature-inspired art. Read the suggested books with your child. Take walks together. Talk with your child about the ways what they see and observe in nature. Provide art materials and let your child create. Maybe you paint clouds. You might do leaf rubbings. Perhaps you build fairy houses together using found objects in nature.
Take photos. Go for a walk and bring your phone to take photos of plants, animals, or other things in nature. Your young child can point out their amazing finds. If your child is old enough, let them take the pictures. Printing the pictures makes a wonderful book for your child to return to again and again, especially if you add simple text underneath the pictures (red tree, yellow banana, etc.).
More Resources on Reading With Babies and Toddlers
I created this list of nature activities when I appeared on the Parenting in the First 3 Years podcast with Nurtured Noggins. I hope you enjoy the resources.
Note: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org. I may make a small commission if you click through and purchase the book links. These links are provided as a resource to you. Please visit your local library and support your indie book stores.