Water Conservation in Your Outdoor Classroom
In most regions, the long days of summer lend themselves to water play. While water is refreshing and fun, it is also a precious natural resource. So how do we balance our desire to conserve with the joy of learning with water in a Nature Explore Classroom? Here are 5 tips to keep you splashing.
1) Consider the water cycle in your Nature Explore Classroom. There is no new water and every time we use it there is a chance it will be changed. I’ve heard children describe this by saying, “It is raining the same water dinosaurs once drank.”
2) Find a dual purpose for the water you use. For instance, if you want the children to cool down in a sprinkler, you can water your grass at the same time. Empty leftover water from snack into a planter bed, or drain water from your water table into a dry creek bed or flower garden. Have children help with this task and describe how water nourishes all living things.
3) Think about water quality. While water barrels have traditionally been used for collection, consider the water source. Sometimes run off from a roof is not safe for children. If this is the case, fill rain barrels with water from a faucet and allow children to dispense when needed.
4) Focus on physical properties. Watch how water displaces loose fill or mixes with clay or mud. Use clear containers whenever possible and see, feel, and touch the changes. Always be aware of local licensing or accreditation requirements regarding use and disposal.
5) Look for natural occurrences. Dance in the rain, shape the snow, and celebrate the sleet. Plant local vegetation and seize every opportunity to be in the natural elements with children. Have appropriate clothes on hand to take advantage of various weather conditions.
We know that hands-on experiences with water help children internalize the physical properties of the natural world. Try some of these tips or see the Learning with Nature Idea Book for more ideas on how to incorporate water into the daily lives of children.