We have a collection of bugs in my son’s room. Dead bugs. Creepily stuck to a pin-board, dead as a doornail, along with other flora that he’s collected over the last year.
In this house, I’ve had to learn to love bugs and not be freaked out by them or their creepy crawly nature. I know that having a bug pin-board in your child’s room might not be your usual room decor (ain’t gonna win any pinterest decor likes over here, that’s for sure), but he absolutely LOVES it, which is the main thing. Occasionally a visitor comments on it, and it’s only then that I remember that it might not be your standard run-of-the-mill bedroom wall object.
I recently attended a Nature Play Conference and it got me thinking about the ways we incorporate a love of nature into our children’s everyday lives, the ways we bring the outdoors in, and the ways we nurture their natural curiosity of the wonder that nature just IS.
This “science board” (as we call it) came about as a natural result of my eldest son’s fascination with insects, and his obsession with collecting treasure from nature. Kids do love to collect things, don’t they?! He would always spot any little dead insect on our walks, and I would always end up with a collection in the buggy. So as a natural extension of this interest of this we made this “science board” to display his finds.
How we made it:
It’s made of a corkboard (from The Warehouse or Warehouse Stationary for example), with four A4 sheets of printer paper pinned on top of the cork (they pretty much fit perfectly).
The pins we use for the insects are just run-of-the-mill sewing pins… pretty much cos that’s all I had, and they completely suffice. They do stick out the back quite a lot and sometimes touch the wall, so if you’re renting or want to protect your walls, do be mindful of this.
We put all sorts of treasures on our “science board” – leaves shaped like letters, special flowers that we’ve dried, dead crabs that we find, or any other type of “treasure” that the kids want to keep. Lots and LOTS of cicada shells get pinned up over Summer!
It also serves as a bit of a memory bank as I write the date and location of each object on there too. It’s lovely to look back over it and reminisce about what was happening when they found that particular item. One extra special item that’s on there is a flower from the posy that my husband bought me when our youngest baby was born. Such a neat way to share that experience with our boys.
It has been amazing to see what kind of things they like to put on the science board. One day when we were walking on a local beach here in Christchurch, my eldest son (almost 5y/o at the time) picked up what I thought was a piece of seaweed. But nope, it wasn’t “just seaweed”. He’d recognised it as an elephant fish egg, from seeing one in the touch pools at Kelly Tarltons (in Auckland) 7 months earlier! So of course that came home and was dried out and put on the science board, after lots of discussion and internet research about elephant sharks and where they live and what time of year they lay eggs etc. Very interesting… I learned a lot too and was absolutely blown away at his memory and attention to detail.
Obviously we have a child who’s a natural keen observer of flora and fauna (a “Naturalistic” type of intelligence, perhaps, as defined by Howard Gardner) but I can imagine this kind of science board would be suitable all sorts of naturally curious kids, or families who are looking for ways to incorporate more nature into their children’s everyday lives. Or I can imagine this in a Playcentre/preschool setting too (up high so they pins are out of the way of little fingers!)
Here’s my tips for your “Science board” (please try to think of a better name!):
- Keep it simple. Don’t worry about buying special pins or anything like that. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. In my mind it would’ve been “nice” for all of our pins to be the same colour, but who really cares, right!
- Only collect dead items. All of the items that are on our one have been found dead already (apart from the rabbit tail which actually comes from a bunny I shot when I was a teenager, and the praying mantis which was found alive but unfortunately it’s too cold for it where we live and they naturally die over winter time).
- If you bring home sea treasures such as dead crabs or seaweed, dry them out for a few weeks before pinning them on, otherwise they’ll stink.
- Otherwise, pin your treasures on as soon as you can. We have had a couple of specimens found in near perfect condition (including the gum emperor moth) that ended up deteriorating because they got handled too much by little hands, boo!
- Let the kids have a go at pinning thing on, it’s good for developing their fine motor control as well as exposure to risk (learning that pins are sharp!)
- Let the kids have full control over where things get pinned on. It’s their board – let them have decide it’s layout to give them a sense of ownership and pride in it.
- Use it as a full learning experience with your kids; research the flora and fauna they choose for it and also use the writing of the names and dates as a literacy exercise, sounding out the letters together etc.
What do you think, is this something that your kids would be into? Or have you already got some thing similar? I’d love to know.
Happy collecting and pinning!
P.S. in case you’re wondering, the medals hanging on the right hand side are from Toyota Kiwi Guardians adventures, which are great fun adventures you can do with your kids and then send away to get a medal for. And the items hanging on the left are golden leaf medals I made for my son’s 5th birthday party. I was going to take them off for the photos but it looked a bit boring without them!