Connect with places around your school in which you and your children can spend time in more natural environments. Build a relationship with your local parks, waterways, beaches, gardens.
Go for walks. Walk slowly and learn to notice the small things. Nature is everywhere…even in the cracks of the footpath of the most urban street. Record what you see on your walks and take the same route each time to notice the subtle and more dramatic changes.
Create a timeline in the classroom that depicts what you are noticing each month about the environment around you. Include photos, sketches and observations on the timeline. What birds are in the school yard at different times of the year? Which plants are flowering? Where are the shadows falling in the school yard?
Encourage your kids to get to know nature in their neighbourhoods or back yards. Have them keep diaries or journals, take photographs and track the way that places change over a year.
Find out what kinds of plants there are in your school yard. Keep track of how they grow and change over time.
Start noticing the birds – what species are in the school grounds? Does it change over the year? Which birds are native? Introduced? What are their habits? Where do they prefer to hang out? Why?
Connect with kids in other parts of your country or even state. What is their experience of the environment at simultaneous times of the year?
Find out about the ways the indigenous people of your area identify seasonal change.
Talk to your kids about what YOU notice as the days pass over the year. Model what it means to be fascinated by and connected to your environment. Marvel aloud at the changing seasons.
The changing environment offers an incredible opportunity for inquiry. But why limit that inquiry into one stand alone unit when, in fact, the opportunity to learn about, notice, anticipate, observe and record change is available to us every single day? Inquiring into the environment is SO much better as an ongoing experience. And I am not just talking about a filling in a weather chart each day! On a regular basis, take your kids OUTSIDE to observe and record what they see, hear and smell. Take time to record, to photograph, to draw – and simply to BE in the outdoors. Have each child find their special spot - a place they will return to all year and document change. Find a window in your school through which to see the outside world. Watch the way the view out that window changes over the year. Draw it, write about it, capture it in a diary that will be used again next year to anticipate change
Kath Murdoch reflects on the potential of the environment associated with inquiry. She shares a number of activities to support people: