Anyone who has a three-year-old lives a life riddled with questions. Today Alzette asked me the above question and it struck me once again that my life with children requires me (thankfully) to connect with the natural world in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. I consider myself pretty in tune with nature, and I think about it a lot. I love walking and I try to connect my kids with the earth as much as possible. But the questions I get from Alzette sometimes awaken me to the fact that when it comes to thinking about trees, the air, animals, flowers, rocks, the moon, or any other natural aspect of the universe, I’m barely scratching the surface.
In educational programs as early as preschool, so much thought and time goes into teaching kids about plants, animals, Earth science, and the solar system. But how much time do we spend connecting with these ideas, or experiencing nature with our physical senses, when we grow up? People (I include myself in this broad category) are quick to blame technology for our disconnection from nature. But here’s one of many places where technology can instead brings us closer: When Alzette asks me a question to which I don’t know the answer, I of course just research it on the internet. I don’t just find the answer there but usually a video, song, or other teaching tool to help demonstrate the answer.
So why was it sunny today, even though it was raining? Seems like a simple question, but it’s usually not sunny when it’s raining is it? I didn’t look this one up. Maybe we will another day but we were in the car and it’s always a good idea to start with a few hypotheses anyway (Alzette usually joins in). I proposed that the clouds were full of rain, yet thinner than your average rain cloud and therefore the sun was able to shine through. I have no idea if that’s even remotely correct but the right answer doesn’t always matter. What matters is that we thought about the world around us, came up with some ideas, talked about how we might research the question, and shared a moment together. And yes I also advised her to keep an eye out for rainbows.
Here are some other questions my three-year-old has asked me. Think about them for more than a minute. Do you really know the answer? If not, do they change the way you think about nature? I invite you to choose one and have fun finding the answer on the internet. Then go outside and see it in action.
What is wind?
How do you make a ring [of metal]?
How does a snail get inside of its shell?
What do rabbits eat?
What is the polar bear at the zoo doing right now?
What is a moth?
What is a star?