We all want our children to spend more time outdoors. However when you live in a city, connecting our children to nature can be difficult.

In this series of blog posts, I hope to inspire you with some ways you can teach your children about the natural world, and give you some creative activities to do indoors or in a city garden.

Nature Study in the City

Spending time outdoors in a natural environment has been proven scientifically to benefit children.

Since the release of the book Last Child in the Woods, which brought attention to the developmental effects of nature on our children, there have been multiple studies that prove likewise.

Some of the benefits of outdoor play include:

  • Supports development intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and
    physically (Kellert, 2005).
  • Encourages creativity: Studies show that children engage
    in more creative forms of play in the green areas. (Bell and Dyment,
  • Improves Concrentration: Exposure to natural settings increases
    children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive
    abilities (Wells, 2000).
  • Improves Academic Performance: Children who partook in outdoor
    science programs had an improvement in their science results by 27% (American Institutes for Research, 2005).
  • Reduces ADD symptoms (Kuo and Taylor, 2004).
  • Improves eyesight (American
    Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011)
  • Encourages healthy eating  (Bell &
    Dyment, 2008) 
  • Reduces stress  (Wells and
    Evans, 2003)

Book Recommendation

Before we start, I want to let you know that we have been using this vintage nature book, Looking At Nature, by Elsie Proctor, as our primary text.

It is fantastic. Unlike most nature books, it is not just pages of facts, but it also poses lots of questions for the children to answer and gives great ideas for outdoor activities and experiments.

This is what we have been doing this March:

Observing Germination

We began this month with a trip to the supermarket to by some compost and plant seeds. I read in the book Looking at nature
, that Sunflowers
and Runner Beans
are easy to grow…we’ll soon see!

Nature Study in the City

I decided to begin with an activity I remember doing at school. We filled jars with kitchen roll, and then carefully pushed two Runner Bean
seeds in the gap between the glass and the tissue. Then we added enough water the to jars to make the tissue damp, and left them on a sunny window-sill. 
Within 5 days this is what we saw:

Nature Study in the City

The children drew what they saw for their Nature Notebooks, and we discussed all the parts of the plant and what plants need to grow. They learnt the words germination, shoot and tap root.

Nature Study in the City

Nature Study in the City

This is something you can do indoors, in a small space, and at very little expense!  

Began Planting Our Children’s Garden

This year I am giving a part of our small garden to the children. They will be responsible for growing the plants in that patch, weeding, watering etc.  If it works…it’s going to be a fantastic source of learning opportunities
The boys planted their Sunflower Seeds
, and left them in our cold-frame to grow.

Nature Study in the City

Nature Study in the City

Looking for catkins

Thankfully we have a number on trees on our road that have catkins. We collected what we could find, and brought them home to identify.
Nature Study in the City

Visited our City Parks

At this time of year, there is so much to see in the park. The daffodils are blooming, the birds are back and building nests, and everything is stirring back to life!
We spent several hours looking for the first signs of spring. The boys drew some daffodils for their nature notebooks, and I just allowed them to explore. The only rule we have in the park is ….You Are Not Allowed To Walk On The Path! 

Nature Study in the City
Drawing daffodils

Nature Study in the City
Playing hide-and-seek! He’s  counting…

Nature Study in the City
He’s hiding!

They found this muddy pond and were in there wading through the murky water…They loved it!

Nature Study in the City

I hope this will encourage you to get out into nature with your children, wherever you live. 
What activities have you done outdoors with your kids? Do any of you have any recommendations for other plants we can put in the children’s garden? Please let me know in the comments below πŸ™‚

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Make sure you don’t miss the next in this series!
I’m hoping to get it out the same time next month insha’Allah. 

To make sure to don’t miss it, just Subscribe to my mailing list and you’ll be sent an email to let you know it’s out!

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In need of your duaas.
Peace and Love.

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21 Comments on Nature Study in the City – March 2016

  1. Rabia S.
    28/03/2016 at 8:42 pm (8 years ago)

    I did this kind of activities a lot with my mum. You could go for herbs in their garden. From lavander till vervain and mint (there is even something like chocolate mint-awesome smell!). Herbs can be used later for cooking or making your own teas.

    • Gemma
      29/03/2016 at 5:12 pm (8 years ago)

      That sounds wonderful! I love the idea of using herbs in the children's garden. The smells will really add to the sensory experience and, like you say, they can eat them too!

  2. StyleXplora Waseema Abdool Khader
    29/03/2016 at 5:45 am (8 years ago)

    This is a brilliant initiative and definitely worth the read and implementing in our homes whether homeschooling or not.Jazak'Allah for sharing!

    • Gemma
      29/03/2016 at 5:12 pm (8 years ago)

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate your support πŸ™‚

    • Gemma
      29/03/2016 at 5:13 pm (8 years ago)

      Thank you Fatima. They were so much fun!

  3. Lubna Karim
    29/03/2016 at 5:40 pm (8 years ago)

    Wish i can get this environment for my kiddo here…..I really like this concept of learning through exploring…

    • Gemma
      30/04/2016 at 2:18 pm (8 years ago)

      There's so much to learn in nature by just giving them the freedom and time to explore

  4. Iman
    30/03/2016 at 11:23 pm (8 years ago)

    We really need to get out more! Now that Nusaybah is walking, it will insha'Allah be easier to get out and about. The kids had eye tests recently and the optometrist was telling about how atleast an hour a day outside does so much good for their eyes as they train their eyes to look at things in the distance as opposed to being close to books, or screens or anything else indoors that is quite near to them.

  5. Kai Darul
    31/03/2016 at 2:51 am (8 years ago)

    all this blogpost i read about kids' activities makes me wanna be part of them, too. i guess, i will be doing lots of them in the future.

  6. hina's world
    31/03/2016 at 5:44 am (8 years ago)

    Fortunately I live in NZ. they have done everything to preserve their environment and natural beauty…so its beautiful out here and soothing for the eye. I am glad my kids will grow up in this environment

  7. Veilbymaryam
    01/04/2016 at 2:22 pm (8 years ago)

    I don't have kids but I don't want my kids won't be addicted to electronics, at least not at their young age ! My little sister never goes outside, always on her ipad, and even when she eats she has to be watching something …

  8. Sainab Sharif
    03/04/2016 at 1:37 pm (8 years ago)

    This is soo wonderful. I wanna these activities with my son too! Such a wonderful way to help them learn πŸ™‚

  9. Muslim Mummy
    03/04/2016 at 9:34 pm (8 years ago)

    Some great activities. We have been getting out and about now as the weather has been improving. Also planted some sunflowers and strawberries.

  10. Angelic Scalliwags
    04/04/2016 at 5:26 am (8 years ago)

    I love all your photos of the great outdoors πŸ™‚ Thank you for the vintage book recommendations – I will definitely be looking them up.

  11. Zainab Dokrat
    04/04/2016 at 12:07 pm (8 years ago)

    Out door play is very good for children, it broadens their horizons and it's great exercise. With the new tech generation children don't want to go outside but it should be encouraged. I think for children it's best to find what interests them outsides, some may not like the same things so forcing them they won't want to go outside. Great post πŸ™‚

  12. Zainab Dokrat
    04/04/2016 at 12:42 pm (8 years ago)

    So good πŸ™‚ It's great for children to have outdoor activities, especially in this generation where kids hardly want to go outside and are just into tech activities. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  13. Amina Edota
    04/04/2016 at 1:13 pm (8 years ago)

    Masha Allah. I love your rule… ''You Are Not Allowed To Walk On The Path!'' – such a great way to learn by exploring. Like sr. Rabia suggested already, I'll say try growing some herbs.

  14. myda tahir
    04/04/2016 at 1:17 pm (8 years ago)

    thanks Gemma, what a lovely activity, we also took the kids to park here also and let them explore themselves. Learning by fun has a deep impact on the little minds.

  15. Umm Johar
    05/04/2016 at 3:11 pm (8 years ago)

    Salaam! Great post. I'm really interested in the book you recommended. Im planning on buying it for my children. I think it would be a great addition to our homeschooling curriculum. JZK for sharing sister. You've given me some great ideas now that the weather is starting to get nice. Masha'Allah. May Allah continue to bless your homeschool experience. Ameen


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