“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”
– William Wordsworth
As humans, we tend to look for similarities amongst the things in our world. Perhaps it is a way to help us make sense of such diversity. Helps us understand how everything is connected and where we fit in. We love to find patterns, don’t we? Children are no different.
Playful Learning’s family workshop, Backyard Science Investigations, beautifully explains the stages of engaging with nature that children experience and how important it is for children to be able to make connections between the things in their world. Patterns are everywhere in nature. They inspire curiosity and lead to scientific, mathematical and artistic investigations from the very basic to the advanced. A variety of patterns can be found in the nature right in your own backyard, waiting to be explored.
If you would like to explore nature’s patterns with your child, reading some books together is a great place to start. Here are some of my favorites:
- A Star in My Orange by Dana Meachen Rau
- Swirl By Swirl by Joyce Sidman
- Growing Patterns by Sarah Campbell
- Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails by Betsy Franco
- By Nature’s Design: An Exploratorium Book by Diane Ackerman
Once your child has had an introduction to different types of patterns, head outside with this scavenger hunt (see below) and see what you can find. Note: I have provided two different types of spirals here. For young children who will just want to explore spirals in general.
You may also like to bring your camera along to capture the specific examples you and your child find. Your photos can then serve as inspiration for further exploration, art projects, or an entry in a nature journal.
Just be warned, once you start noticing patterns it’s hard to stop!