Archive of ‘Nature’ category

Home Learning: Year 3

I’m a firm believer in learning begins at birth. Even our smallest infants are learning to process the tones of their families voices, the touch of hands gently stroking their head and the smells of dinner radiating through the house.

My Lydia turned three at the end of July. She is full of curiosity, joy and fantasy. Her vocabulary continues to expand and watching her make-believe play may be my favorite part of parenting. We continue to teach her at home- confidently following her lead, expanding her strengths and bringing up her weaknesses. As of now we are home-educating through an eclectic mix of learning philosophies.

I get asked all the time, especially now that she is three, what we are doing for school. My answer remains the same as it has since birth, “We play and read.”

But I am adding a tiny bit more structure to her play-based learning at this point. I have found that she loves having a theme at Roots and Wings Playschool and is delighted when I put together a display or books and toys based on a theme. Lydia is a naturalist to her core and an avid book reader, so I am using those interests as our pillars for learning this year. I will be doing quarterly themes.

September/October/November: Trees

September will focus on apples and introduce the beauty of trees bearing fruit.

October will focus on fall and the changing of seasons.

November will focus on giving thanks.

Each will be infused with literature, puzzles, and hands on learning about trees. We will dig deeper than we have before and work towards one of my “3 year learning goals” for her- identifying multiple trees in our backyard using her knowledge of leaf shapes.

December/January/February: Woods

December: Holidays/Winter (using The Little House Picture books as our guide)

January: Woodland Animals

February: Gnomes and Fairies

We will explore hibernation, animal homes, the changing of landscape, snow, and end with the whimsical study of fairies and gnomes.

March/April/May: Weather

March: Clouds/Rain

April: Sun

May: Moon

We will begin tracking our weather as we transition from winter to spring. We will explore outside and learn about the moon phases.

June/July/August: Garden

June: Seeds

July: Bugs

August: Flowers

We will enjoy summer gardening through the study of planting seeds, learning about all of the plants that make up our yard and neighborhood and watch our flowers bloom.

Most of these themes, I’ll just be doing activities that fit Lydia’s interest. We can add little learning themes throughout as we make our way through the year. I will pull from The Peaceful Preschool when appropriate. She knows most of her letters through play so we don’t explicitly teach them. I do plan to infuse letters and sounds into our themed studies a bit more than I have before since she loves language and is showing an interest in letters and reading. For those looking for suggestions on how we plan to integrate the letters with our themes, my plan is to loosely focus on a few letters each quarter. I will simply display them in our home and review them as they come up in books and our planned activities.

Sept-Nov Letters:

A- apple

F- Fall

G- Grandparents

H- Halloween

O- October

P- Pumpkin

T- Tree

J- Jack o lantern

Dec-Feb Letters:

B- Bears

D- Deer

W- Woods

X- ummmm… because I have nowhere else to put this letter

March-May Letters:

C- Clouds

K- Kite

M- moon

R- Rain

S- Sun

U- Umbrella

E- Earth

June-August Letters:

I- Insect

N- Nest

Q- Queen (bee)

L- Lettuce

V- Vase (flower study)

Y- Yellow

Z- zzzz sound from a bee? ūüôā

Roots+Wings Playschool: B Week

B week was a blast at Roots+Wings Playschool!  We are so proud of all the kids for participating and learning about bears and birds to celebrate B week.


Please enjoy this photo summary of our day!

Invitation to Play

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†(Feather painting. The children used brightly colored feathers to paint. I love how the “brushstrokes” look with different mediums!)

(Literacy: Our literacy area this week was full of all types of books and a Handwriting Without Tears alphabet poster. It is a nice little area for the kids to take a break from the sensory activities to take in a book)

(Going On A Bear Hunt Literacy Activities: Each bottle had a book setting. The children were able to look for the bottles that correlated with the pages, learn about the natural elements and shake the bottles up to listen to how each bottle had a different sound)
(Bird Seed and Feathers Sensory Bin)

Read Aloud & Mini Lesson

(Welcome Song with the sweetest little helpers)

(Jamberry Read Aloud- I highly suggest a berry tasting party at home!)

And Bear Hunt Read Aloud with the sensory bottles)

Main Activity

(We made bird feeders. The kids loved scooping, spreading, rolling…and eating the peanut butter and bird food!)


Thank you for joining!   

Photos by: Ashlie, Mama Bear Upstate Birth Photography

Find us by searching #rootsandwingsplayschool

Observing Play in Nature

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. -Margaret Atwood

Observing children is beautiful.

When people ask, “What are you passionate about?” My honest answer would be, “Watching children play.” ¬†However, there is a slightly creepy connotation to wording a passion that way stops me and I often spit out some more socially excepted verbiage like, “spending time in nature, play-based learning or even something broad like mindful parenting”. Ok, nobody really even asks what people’s passions are .. but they should!

But truly, observing play is such an incredible thing. It is like watching a series of mini miracles happen before your eyes.

Each movement leads to more development. Each word used connects to a bigger picture of the world. Each experience of free-play forms a unique little human.

Free-play in nature, in particular, sparks immense joy in children. And as parent, the opportunity to understand who your child is as a person during these moments outside is incredible. If children experience nature on a daily basis as a young child, they are in peace when they are outside. I have found as an educator, of children with behavioral and social needs, and as a parent that time outside releases something in them and you can see the true spirit of who they are.

One of my favorite lines in a book, Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children, is, “Who is my child in this moment?” This question is something that I try to ask myself multiple times a day. The practice of reflection and honoring their growth and true self has helped me connect and learn my daughter’s personality.

Charlotte Mason, a mindful educator of the 19th century, spoke beautifully about observing children. In her book, The Outdoor Life of Children, she said, ¬†“This is all play to the children, but the mother is doing invaluable work; she is training their power of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas by giving them the name and the uses of an object at the right moment-” Her perspective is that it is the parent, or the educator, needs to be there for the children to observe their learning. They need to allow time for free-play but also be near for reflection and discussion. The balance that she creates is wonderful and requires such a conciois effort. This balance is also discussed in Simplicity Parenting by Kim Payne. The line, “When we talk over and under and around a child- when we talk too much- there’s less space for their thoughts, for what they have to say” really stands out to me. Allowing the child to be deeply engrossed in play is a mindful practice. When do you speak and explain? When do you observe silently? When do you document? And when do you simply watch? These are questions only you can answer and reasonably change given the child and the situation.

But what do you observe? Everything.

How do their hands grasp the shovel?  

How they move around the root that they fell over yesterday? 

What new words are they saying when they sing a song to themselves?

What new skills are they learning when you introduce water to their bucket?

Do their eyes sparkle when they see a butterfly floating by?

Do they search the same area of the yard for the ant they saw last week?

When do they check in with you? When do they desire physical contact? When is eye-contact reassuring enough? 

When do they realize they have walked to another area of the woods and you are out of sight? 

Take a week to be mindful of your observations. You may even want to use a notebook to write them down after you walk back inside or when your child is engrossed in play. Notice the changes. Notice the patterns. And notice the incredible gift of playing in nature that you have given them. Remember that this is a practice and something to work on daily. You will notice that as you observe, you will become better at seeing small changes in your child’s development.

I would love to hear your observations if you are willing to share. Feel free to email me,, comment or message me on Instagram.