I think that what nature appreciation looks like in the very young can cause some confusion. One of the things that make it so hard to pin to a strict definition is that, by necessity, there is significant overlap with other subjects such as science, physical education, and art. This is what also makes it one of the best things you can do for your child’s developing mind. When you give them the freedom to explore (with appropriate supervision), you are encouraging an interest in everything around them which will overlap into so many areas of their lives!
When your child is outside, he or she (hereinafter referred to as “he”) is appreciating all the beauty of nature, even if he doesn’t realize it as he runs along the beach and picks up shells, or kicks the fall leaves to hear them shuffle as you walk through the park. He is constantly using the scientific method to figure out why things are the way they are……just watch a preschooler lying on their stomach for an hour watching ants and you have seen it in action. In drawing what he has seen, or photographing the things he finds interesting, he is, without pressure, trying different kinds of art.
Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about when she said that children should be outdoors as much as possible. And while the amount of time she suggested may not be practical in today’s lifestyle, there are ways to feed a child’s interest in, and love of, being out of doors that can take as little or as long as you have. A child benefits from the freedom to explore whenever possible, preferably daily, and even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.
Just get outside.