Playing with flowers for children: the educator’s advice to help your children discover nature this summer holiday
Games with flowers for children: many ideas and jobs in contact with nature
Summer time is the best time to spend our days outdoors. Something that children in particular benefit from, even more so after two years of a pandemic that has greatly limited their contact with nature. Perhaps it is no coincidence that too many families this year, confirming a trend from recent years, focus more on the mountains than on the sea. Between forest and meadows there are many games and activities for children it can be done: here are some ideas suggested by the educator Elisa Leoni.
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Flower activity for children: why
Outdoor activities have always been fundamental to the child’s development and are even more so after two years, when children have been forced indoors and have somewhat lost the habit of coming into contact with nature. «Recover possession of open spaces – begins the expert – is essential to fill it lack of nature from which we all suffer: for us adults it can be an option to do digital detox after the exponential rise of smart work and video calling, while children can return to discover the world by touching it with their hands.” To do this, any natural context can be fine, from the lake to the sea (when you’re not on an equipped beach), but the mountain environment is certainly privileged for its many different elements and stimuli.
Playing in nature: benefits
Playing in nature is «all-round sensory experience, where the child experiences everything not only through manual activity, but by being immersed in a completely new and stimulating environment. It’s this one stimulation of the senses it takes place both in a static form (observing colors, listening to sounds and sounds, smelling smells) and dynamically, using the hands and the body to explore ». Self Montessori method focuses on experiences in nature, far from everyday, home or school contexts: «This to stimulate the child’s divergent thinking, who are amazed in front of new materials and also learn to deal with the unknown emotionally. Natural contexts question, raise doubts and ask to be proactive, to develop autonomy and independence ».
Games with flowers: how to do it
Even before structured activities, play is born in the spontaneous exploration of the surrounding environment. «Each new context tells the child something and activates his inner world, which is stimulated to respond by expressing itself through creativity. The games with natural elements allow you to experiment with different forms and languages and develop in more “unpredictable” contexts and outside the comfort zones, stimulate the child’s problem solving and ability to adapt and learn“. To prepare games in nature, it is necessary to parents know the environment and the safety limitsso that they themselves are sufficiently calm to “make children feel the confidence necessary to launch themselves into the exploration of unknown things and situations”.
Play on flowers up to 3 years
For working on the senses with preschool children, flowers are perfect because they have a strong olfactory dimension and are accessible to handle, light and soft.
- Preparatory activities. In general, we suggest already at home to let them experience sensory play related to the natural environment, which they will then know on holiday: “If, for example, you go to the sea, bath time is a way to become familiar with the water and with the sensations of hot and cold; to simulate the feeling of sand, you can use yellow flour, I also suggest using the classic one basket of treasureswhere you can also put natural elements such as sticks and stones ».
- Play on flowers for kindergarten. At this age, experiences with flowers can be suggested over real activities: “Let them observe, touch and caress petals to understand the differences. Or pick up some flowers and put them in freezer molds to make gods ice cubes with flowers in the middle: children will experience different temperatures, but also the melting of the ice ».
You work with flowers from 3 to 6 years
In the kindergarten, interactivity increases, and the child becomes the main character in the activities: «At this age, you work a lot on their artistic expressiveness: trace some shapes or paint, but not only. You can create natural dyes with them to be used for painting on paper, but also on leaves or stones: collect flowers of the same color and then pound them with a stone to make a pulp. At this point, filter it through gauze and get a color. You can add leaves for the green color or red fruits for pink, red and purple ». Since it is work that uses a natural element to create something useful for humans, it is important to include it in teaching about respect for nature: “Choose carefully and pick only the flowers you need, with gestures of care and delicacy that give value to the individual flower and not the idea that they are resources that can be wasted. Also ask if there are rare plants to avoid picking them ».
Flower-themed activity for children aged 6 and over
A more didactic approach is fine with primary school children
- “Fiorario”. A herbarium is a job that takes advantage of their thirst for knowledge and their tendency to collect: “Not even adults know how to distinguish between the most common flowers, but knowledge is the basis of respect: knowing how to recognize species , allows you to really know where you find and also to love and appreciate it more.Organize small explorations to create a herbarium or a “fiorario”, to give a name to the flowers you come across. To help you in your cataloging work, start with a book that illustrates the most common species in the resort where you are ».
- Minimondi. On the artistic side, you can use different natural elements (flowers, leaves, sticks, moss) to create collages or mini-worlds: «Inside a shoebox recreated a scenario on a smaller scale, perhaps the meadow with the waterfall in the background where you have just been and which you loved so much. Use rocks to make mountains and sticks for trees, and your child can make his dolls move around the environment, maybe even to tell new stories ».
Elisa Leoni, trained in Educational Science and sleep consultant, has for several years worked with parenting support for children aged 0-3. Since 2020, he has been an educational consultant for Gepo Association.