March 23, 2018
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
National Walk Out SSU loses compassionate alumna Bunnies and eggs come to Cotati Correction: Every 15 Minutes at the Ranch Haircuts and meals for homeless Traffic signal updates Cotati to get new park and ride RP residents win Miss Sonoma County and Outstanding Teen Snyder era ends at age 92 53 alleged Brown Act violations Graton Casino funds to help community projects Cotati City Council presented with awards for excellence in city budget RP’s new municipal regulations will try and curb parking problem Gov. Brown swears in newCHP Commissioner Judson Snyder, columnist Prostitution ring uncovered New RP homeless count and SR homeless camp eviction RP attempting to alleviate traffic woes TRIO works in Rohnert Park Crab feed comes to Penngrove Crash causes small gas leak Fire displaces RP residents Council approves La Plaza park for fundraiser RP City Council discusses M pool programs Schools for climate action Mother and Son Arrested for Human Trafficking and Pimping RP Council votes to extend terms Plaza shooter said to be suffering from depression Be a part of history: Penngrove to assemble time capsule Cotati gives thanks at annual awards night Two alarm fire displaces RP residents, destroys home No evil puppies, just youths going to camp Free tax prep assistance for low income residents Cotati changes cannabis cultivation regulations Sonoma County reports flu death Correction Drunk driver tries to flee scene RP confident about flooding prep SR woman killed by SMART train New businesses come to town Suspect wanted to be shot in City Center Plaza shooting Cotati-RP Unified School District makes AP District Honor Roll list Officer involved shooting: Suspect wanted to be shot by RP Public Safety officers City of Cotati: Honorary Mayor Anabel Dane RP aims to curb exposure to secondhand smoke RP approves amendment to speed up housing development Community helps TMS class reach goal Whatever happened to young newspaper carriers? CERT involvement the answer to better disaster preparedness? Wise money moves for parents under 40 2017 Home invasion: burglar arrested after entering home and committing sexual assault Holiday robbery and thefts DUI doesn’t just mean booze when behind the wheel New State laws that impact California’s law enforcement agencies New laws for California motorists Fraud Alert: Fire Debris

Getting outdoors with your preschooler

April 29, 2010
It’s never too early to teach your children about nature

If you’ve recently taken a walk along the Laguna de Santa Rosa in Cotati or Rohnert Park, you may have come across a group of preschoolers armed with butterfly nets, magnifying glasses, or bug boxes, observing wildlife right in our own backyard.

The children were participating in “nature discovery class” through Nature Tots, a nonprofit organization that started in 2008. The classes were started to cultivate “a love of nature of our youngest citizens, through direct exposure to the outdoors and by encouraging and facilitating their innate curiosity of the natural world.”

While the classes are a great way for young children and their parents to get outdoors and learn about the nature in their own community, founder Stephanie Derammelaere is quick to point out that you don’t need a class to introduce nature to your child.

 “Almost all children seem to be born with an innate curiosity and wonder of the natural world,” says Derammelaere. “Every spider, rock, and tree can capture a child’s attention and imagination.”

Derammelaere starts with a few suggestions for parents wanting to get children outdoors and excited about discovering nature:

Slow down your pace
Let your preschooler take the lead and stop with them to observe that leaf, insect, or rock they find so interesting. What may seem mundane to us can be riveting to a young child and by allowing them the time to be mesmerized by an object, we sometimes reawaken our own wonder of nature.

 “In the Nature Tots classes we sometimes have to keep the nature walk on schedule, to get back on time to do our craft and so forth,” said Derammelaere, “but I encourage parents to take walks with their children without a certain destination or schedule in mind. You may only walk half a block but young children learn by simply observing the world around them. Our current lifestyle can be so hurried, many children (and adults) don’t have time to appreciate the beauty around them.”

Change your child’s perspective

Give your child a magnifying glass, a pair of binoculars, or a butterfly net to try out on your next excursion. These can help foster your child’s observation skills and help them see nature from a different perspective. Encourage them to use their magnifying glass underneath a leaf or log, or peer into tree branches with the binoculars to see what birds are perching there.

 “Children love being little ‘scientists’ and giving them observation tools will encourage them to make discoveries. Make sure the tools aren’t distracting - you don’t want it to be about the ‘stuff’ - but as long as they are using one thing at a time in the appropriate way, it can be exciting for them to see things in different perspectives.”

Let them get dirty

Sometimes to really enjoy nature you just have to be in it.  “One of the best walks I ever took with my children was to Crane Creek one rainy day last winter,” says Derammelaere. “It didn’t take long to find out that my children’s rubber boots and slickers were no match for the deep puddles on the trail that day. While my first reaction was ‘oh, don’t get too muddy!’ I let go of the urge to keep my kids clean and we had a blast ‘making music’ (tap dancing) in the puddles! My children returned home with mud from head to toe, yet while the mud can be washed off, that great memory will last for a long time. Now I’m always prepared with extra outfits in the car.”

The easiest way to enjoy nature with your children? Just get outside! Children really don’t require much - you don’t need to take a trip to Yosemite to take their breath away. The beauty of a snail shell, a colorful autumn leaf or an intricate spider web is not lost on our youngest naturalists.

For more information or to sign up for Nature Tots’ free e-newsletter for nature activity ideas, eco-tips for kids, and other nature-related community events, e-mail, call (707) 333-1331 or visit