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When you look around your homeschool area, what do you see? How do you feel? Do you see light and life?
Bringing life into your learning area allows children to interact, care for and observe plants, flowers and living creatures. Adding life also adds natural textures, colours and beauty to your environment. Plants can soften an area, flowers add both colour and smell and living animals offer opportunities to observe; learning how different creatures move, eat, drink, grow and interact with their environment.
Adding Life to Your Homeschool Room
Large indoor plants
I chose this beautiful plant because of its big lush leaves. It’s also very hardy. The stems are quite strong; it has taken a few knocks from the kids and it’s still looking lovely. Look for a simple light or white coloured pot. I chose this white one from IKEA to highlight the beauty of the plant.
Hanging or climbing plants
I wanted a plant that would spill over the shelves, softening the sides; this one was perfect. Again, the leaves and stems are very hardy. The pot is from IKEA. I chose this plant because as it grows, its gorgeous colour and foliage will tumble down to the floor.
Grow something with the children
Watching something grow is a wonderful experience for children. By having the opportunity to grow a variety of plants, children can observe the plant as it changes whilst learning about its basic needs; What does it need to grow? How can it survive inside? At the moment we are growing oyster mushrooms and regrowing carrots. We’ve watched beans grow, sprouted radishes and peas for our kitchen garden, planted flower seeds and grown alfalfa sprouts.
Welcome insects to observe
An insect habitat is the perfect little temporary home for some of the fascinating insects you find in the garden. Our insect habitat is by Seedling. An old aquarium also makes a perfect terrarium and habitat for non-jumping or flying critters.
Most of our critters have a temporary stay of a couple days (we’ve observed praying mantis’, spiders, cockroaches, a lizard and many different kinds of beetles). A few times we’ve also watched caterpillars transform into cabbage moths.
Fresh cut flowers
Freshly cut flowers add colour and beauty to an environment. They also offer opportunities to observe more closely. Children can observe the function of a flower, notice the beauty of its shape then observe the flower transform as it wilts – all fascinating parts of its life cycle.
How about an aquarium?
We have a large turtle aquarium which we brought into the studio from inside our home. It is home to two long-necked turtles. While turtles are wonderful pets, you don’t have to have such a large set up. Our smaller fish tank was less than $50 at our local pet store for the full set up. Keeping animals like fish or turtles gives children to opportunity to care for an animal (learning their basic needs) as well as forming relationships with an animal. It also allows them to observe their habits over a long period; watching them change and grow.
Creating an environment that nurtures and supports young naturalists is simple; add life. Add opportunities to care for life and observe life. Make the plants and animals accessible to the children, encourage them to water and care for the plants, talk about the plants as they grow and change, feed the animals, care for their habitat by keeping it clean and providing food and water. Provide opportunities and tools to observe an entire life cycle of a plant or animal.
What do you think? Are there ways you could add a little more life to your learning environment?
If you are looking for a resource to nurture your little naturalist, I can highly recommend Discovering Nature with Young Children. It’s part of the Young Scientist Series and offers advice for setting up an indoor environment, long-term planning, open exploration of nature and focused exploration.