We have watched as a pair of robins built and then rebuilt their nest.
This nest is outside the piazza window of the building where our youngest children spend their time. After a toddler built herself a step out of large box to better see the nests, I put a sturdy stepping stool beside the huge window and now anyone who can walk and climb a ladder can get a little closer to see the robins care for their eggs.
Watching animals in their natural habitat helps us build empathy, curiosity and our powers of attention. We learn about natural systems and that humans are only one species among millions of others. These dispositions of naturalists will serve children over their whole lives.
“Our work as teachers is to give children a sense of place — to invite children to braid their identities together with the place where they live by calling their attention to the air, the sky, the cracks in the sidewalk where the earth busts out of its cement cage….
When we talk about the natural world, we often speak in generalities, using categorical names to describe what we see: "a bird," "a butterfly," "a tree." We are unpracticed observers, clumsy in our seeing, quick to lump a wide range of individuals into broad, indistinct groups. These generalities are a barrier to intimacy: a bird is a bird is any bird, not this redwing blackbird, here on the dogwood branch, singing its unique song.”
(Ann Pelo, A Pedagogy for Ecology. Rethinking Schools, Summer 2009)