Nature Exploration: Mini-Beasts

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After an August Break, we are back to our “Exploring Nature with Children” Rhythm. We are using it since the beginning of this year as a way to bring awareness to a new theme each week, not as a curriculum. We are always exploring first outdoors and then extend the learning indoors

We follow the guidelines in the notebook in a very relaxed way. On Monday mornings we check for the theme of the week and decide if we want to follow it or do something else instead. Sometimes we replace a topic that my daughter is not very interested in with another one that catches her attention at the moment. For example we have added topics like ladybugs, birds and squirrels. In spring we can spot plenty of birds in our garden and in autumn and winter squirrels come very close to our house, sometimes they even come inside so we wanted to focus on what was there around us and bring our awareness to these topics.

This week’s theme has been Mini-Beasts and my daughter was very enthusiastic about it. Even though we live in a city, we have plenty of wild nature around and many little beasts come into our house. We have spiders, flees, bees, wasps, ants, dragonflies, grasshoppers, ladybugs coming inside the house and we need to carefully redirect them outside. My daughter likes to spend time in the garden digging in the mud in the search of warms or to go barefoot into the rain and spot snails. So she was very excited about exploring mini-beasts this week.

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Here is how we use the “Exploring with Children” notebook

  • we bring our awareness to the topic of the week. This week we have mindfully looked around us, trying to spot little insects, snails, worms and other critters. Usually we go into our garden, take walks in the neighborhood, go to the beautiful Botanical Garden we have in our city, explore the forests nearby and just look. And really SEE what is around us

  • my daughter sketches what she sees in the “My Art Study” section. She usually wants to make some extra drawings and uses other medium like painting, dough, fabrics to explore the theme of the week. I suspect that, after spotting and touching insects, making art is her favorite thing about this nature exploration notebook.

  • we sometimes read the poem of the week but not always as some are them are pretty complicated for her to understand in English. English is her fourth language, after French, Romanian and German and we are keeping it simple for the moment. Sometimes I translate but it doesn’t sound as beautiful as in original as I’m no professional translator.

  • we do some of the research required but not always. “Exploring Nature with Children” is a curriculum for children of all ages and I consider that some of the suggestions will bring too much complexity into the life of a 3 years old. So I only select the ideas that are fun for her. I know her and her interests very well. Sometimes I read her a suggestion and if I see she doesn’t feel like following it, we just drop it. We will anyway be doing this nature exploration in the coming years too so there is no rush.

  • we read about the topic of the week. This is also a favorite for both of us

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Books about Mini-Beasts (in French, English and German)

Here is what we have read this week

  • “Nos incroyables petite bêtes” by Yuval Zommer and Barbara Taylor. It also exist in English “The Big Book of Bugs” but not translated yet in German (although you can find other books from the same author). You can also find it in Italian, Spanish and Catalan.

    A brilliant book with beautiful illustrations. A double page for each mini-beast with some key facts. I think that it gives children a good overview without drowning them into too much information. My daughter loves it and we will probably buy other books from the same author

  • “Sous mes pieds” by Emmanuelle Houssais. Translated only in Italian as far as I know.

    A book that shows us the fascinating life of insects, worms and other critters in the same environment, throughout the year

  • Animalium (Welcome to the Museum), “Das Museum der Tiere: Eintritt frei!” in German. We read in French “Animalium

    This book doesn’t need an introduction anymore. The text is brilliant, the drawings are stunning. A must!

  • Insect Emporium by Susie Brooks and Dawn Cooper- only in English

    I wish I could find it in French but it’s anyway a wonderful opportunity for us to practice vocabulary in English. Beautiful and captivating

  • Bei den Bienen by Anne Möller. - only in German

    In-depth emersion in the world of bees. Very interesting and realistic drawings

  • La coccinelle (Mes premières découvertes), The Ladybug (part of My first discoveries collection) , Der Marienkäfer: Meyers Kinderbibliothek Also translated in many languages

  • L’escargot (Mes premières découvertes) , “Die Schnecke: Meyers Kinderbibliothek”, I don’t think it’s available in English

  • Le papillon (Mes premières découvertes), The Butterfly (part of My first discoveries collection), Der Schmetterling: Meyers Kinderbibliothek

  • L’abeille (Mes premières découvertes), “The Bee (part of My first discoveries collection)”, “Die Biene: Meyers Kinderbibliothek” Also translated in many languages

We love these little books from My first discoveries collection and besides these mentioned above you can find some others on insects: “The Ants”, etc

  • The very busy spider by Eric Carle

  • The very quiet cricket by Eric Carle

My daughter loves these books since she was a baby. We read them in English and I also translate them in Romanian. They are great for practicing vocabulary

Other resources

Earlier this year we have also used these beautiful puzzles about butterflies and other insects. When my daughter was younger she loved this handmade wooden puzzle

She is fascinated by mantis so we have been reading about mantis too this week even if we didn’t spot any. My little one watches screens extremely rarely, but she loves this short documentary on mantis.

Another wonderful way of exploring nature with children is to join a Forest Group or to create yours if you don’t have any available where you live. In this article I wrote you will find what you need to take with you when going on nature exploration.

Would love to hear how you are exploring nature with your children. You can leave me a comment here bellow or on Instagram

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