Explore! A Child's Nature
--Caregiver ChallengeAt the Play ZooNature ActivitiesCommunity Scrapbook
The Caregiver Challenge

A girl enjoying nature
Are you nurturing a nature nut or nature neurotic? Do you and your kid take time to stop and smell the roses? Or grow them, press them, wear them or brew them? Do you teach your kids to watch anthills or obliterate them? Do you see squirrels as comic clowns or nasty fuzzy- tailed rats? Your attitudes and actions are powerful influences over how your kid grows up caring about nature. Take this quiz and find out what kind of nature nurturer you may be!

Instructions: Be honest and give the answer you think best suits your nature personality. Remember: focus on the ways you deal with your child in the world of nature.

Boy jumping puddles
1) It's a hot summer day and a light rain starts to fall. You:

  a) make leaf boats together and float them in the puddles.

  b) set up water gauges to measure rainfall and study erosion under the downspout.

  c) watch smiling from the kitchen window as your kids jump in the puddles.

  d) hustle everyone inside to dry off. Mud puddles are messy and who wants to wash more clothes?

Boy with a bag of rocks2) Your kid brings home yet ANOTHER pile of rocks. You:

  a) paint the rocks and name them after each family member.

  b) help your kid identify the rocks and learn about how they were formed.

  c) provide a special basket or box and a safe place for these treasures.

 d) say, "Honey, rocks belong outside. Why don't you play Legos."

Full moon rising out the bedroom window 3) A beautiful full moon rises just at bedtime. You:

  a) look together for constellations, planets, and major stars.

  b) stand together in the moonlight and make a wish.

  c) let your child make a pillow nest under the window in the moonlight.

  d) what full moon? Nothing will tempt you to tamper with the bedtime routine!

Marching ants
4) Your kids are watching a swarm of black ants on the sidewalk. You:

 a) give your kid a jar and a bug book.

 b) get some sugar and watch the drama of the ants carrying it away.

 c) watch them build their homes and talk about their building skills.

 d) warn your kid that ants bite. Grab a can of insecticide.

Snowfall on flowers
5) A freak snowstorm hits in late spring. You:

 a) put a snowball in the freezer, melt one in a bowl, and boil another into steam to teach about the states of solid, liquid and gas.

 b) dig out the mittens again and make one last snowman together.

 c) let your child delay their homework to have one last romp in the snow.

 d) complain about the shoveling and nasty driving, then book a flight south.

Kid at the beach
6) When you go to the beach with your kid, you:

 a) build sand castles together and play in the water.

 b) are content to see your kid happy and burning off energy in the outdoors.

 c) collect and identify seashells and watch crabs together.

  d) don't go to the beach. Sand gets in everything and you worry your kid will get sunburned or drown.

Deer in the woods
7) A fun visit to the woods or park with your child might include:

 a) strolling peacefully while your kids gallop up and down the path discovering nature in their own way.

 b) making "nature art" with leaves, stones, pine cones, or other natural objects.

 c) hearing a new bird song, tracking it down, and adding the new bird to your life lists.

 d) getting back in one piece without getting dirty or eaten by bugs.

Looking over a scenic overlook
8) You and your family are on a trip and stop at a scenic overlook. You:

 a) take the nature hike loop and stop at each interpretive sign.

  b) get out to stretch your legs and take a few photos while the kids explore.

 c) all hop out of the car and hike the trail down to the base of the waterfall to float sticks.

  d) admire the view through the windshield with the engine idling.

Your Ideal Backyard is...9) Your ideal backyard would be:

 a) a nature preserve perfect for observing animals and cataloging bugs. Home & Garden is on their way!

 b) a space with fun places for your kids to play, with a couple bird feeders and the milk carton birdhouse they made at school.

 c) a place where you and your kid can spend lots of time together creating wonderful hideaways and beautiful gardens.

 d) a nice clean deck or patio and an expanse of grass that doesn't harbor pesky varmints.

A worm
10) After a rain, your kid picks up a worm on the sidewalk. You:

 a) hand it back and forth, laughing at how it wiggles and tickles.

 b) watch it crawl around in your kid's palm, then urge your kid to put it in the grass so no one steps on it.

 c) hunker down and talk about why worms come out in the rain and how they help the soil.

 d) yell "Don't touch it!" and reach for the sanitary wipes.

Kids watching rain fall11) The weather outside is frightful and your kid is restless. Frogs have been a recent interest so you:

  a) set up a tadpole aquarium together to learn about the frog life cycle.

  b) make some frog puppets together for a puppet show.

  c) take your child to the library so she can get some books about frogs.

  d) let him play a video game with a frog hero.

Your baby crawling outside
12) You are outside with your baby who has just learned to crawl. You:

  a) get down together and discover the way grass, rocks, moss, bark, and other textures feel.

 b) watch contentedly as your baby explores the dirt, chews on sticks, and tosses handfuls of grass in the air.

 c) present your baby with interesting objects to examine and chat about them, repeating their names, and explaining what they are.

 d) keep your baby off the dirt and grass, scooping her up when she nears anything remotely natural.

Nature Clock
13) How would you feel most comfortable spending an hour experiencing nature with your child?

 a) watching him play in the sandbox (which, if it has no lid, can be a very rich nature experience).

 b) Sitting by a river, throwing rocks, and chatting together.

 c) decoding animal tracks in the snow, field guide in hand.

 d) watching an IMAX movie about coral reefs (but not in 3-D—that's getting a bit too close to nature!)

Girl and her fish
14) Your older child wants to get a pet. You:

  a) go pick out a puppy together—everyone needs an adoring friend to romp with.

 b) encourage her interest in whatever pet experiences come along (from keeping the class rat to adopting a stray kitten).

  c) research pets together to choose the best kind—an appropriate pet will teach him how to be a responsible caretaker.

 d) explain that pets are too much work, they smell, and they just break your heart when they die.

A potted seed growing15) Your child comes home with a seed in a cup from school. You:

  a) let him take it up into her room to watch it grow.

  b) help him decorate the cup and set it on the kitchen table to admire each day.

  c) talk about what kind of plant it will be, which sun exposure it needs, and how often she should water it.

  d) say, "That's nice, dear," then chuck it in the trash when she's forgotten about it.

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