Appreciating the Natural World with Young Children

IEL Resources

Web Resources

  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources Education Division
    The Department of Natural Resources web site contains information about educational materials for use in the classroom, teacher workshops, and more. Illinois Department of Natural Resources SMARTBoards™ Lessons  includes lessons linked to the Illinois Early Learning Standards. Lessons include A to Z from a Tree and A Year with WildlifeWings, Stings, and Leggy Things: Insects of Illinois is a booklet, which can be downloaded in PDF form, that includes a diagram of an insect and insect life cycles.
  • Let’s Talk about Insects
    This Web site includes a guide to activities such as making models, charting insects, and more. (Also available in Spanish)
  • My First Garden
    This site is designed for use with older children but may be adapted for use in preschool. (Also available in Spanish)
  • Let’s Go Outside! Books for Young Children about the Natural World
    This list is intended for use by teachers and others interested in finding books for children and young teens about the natural world. The age range is given after each title so teachers can choose age-appropriate materials for preschoolers.
  • Meet a Tree
    This article on Education World suggests ways to help children explore trees. Make Your Own Leaf Book is another activity guide that discusses how children can make books to help them remember their leaf observations.
  • Have You Ever Met a Tree?
    This site developed by the University of Michigan includes suggestions related to observing and documenting observations of a tree. This article on Family TLC suggests ways that parents can watch and discuss birds with their children.
  • Nature Explore
    The Nature Explore website provides classroom design services, workshops and conferences, natural products for classrooms, and family resources. This site is also encourages networking and research.
  • Articles for Families on Nature and the Outdoors
    The National Association for the Education of Young Children website provides many articles for families about how to engage in nature activities with children. More articles on the NAEYC website also include Play in a Puddle on a Rainy Day and Engaging Toddlers in Nature Play.
  • 25 Nature Play Ideas for Early Childhood Centers
    This brochure by Green Hearts Inc. provides a rationale for why children should spend more time outdoors and why nature play is the best type of play. It also provides 25 ideas for incorporating nature play in early childhood classrooms.
  • A Parent’s Guide to Nature Play
    This article on the Natural Start Alliance website addresses why outdoor play is important and ideas for how parents can encourage outdoor play among their children. The website also provides resources, research, and articles related to the importance of nature play for children.
  • Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature
    Many children spend the majority of their day in childcare. This infosheet created by the Natural Start Natural Learning Initiative discusses the advantages and tips to connect children to the outdoors while they are at childcare.
  • ScienceLanguage and Literacy, and Math
    These five-minute videos put together by the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center explain how educators can teach concepts (science, language & literacy, and math) using nature. The videos explore using nature indoors and outdoors.
Reviewed: 2017
Type of resource:
  • Resource List