Nature Activities

Before I Go to Kindergarten #4: Time in Nature for Young Children

Time in nature for young children will impact their days at home and at school or daycare. So much so that our kids need some outside time every day.

time in nature for young children

For most of human history, we have had far more time outside than we do now. This divorce from nature has really happened in just one generation. It’s not only because we live in cities. Kids are not getting enough time outdoors. Linda Buzzell, author and psychotherapist, states. “Their need to be outside is not just a thrill, it’s a physical and emotional need. We’ve just forgotten it.”

After the summer holidays, children often have changes. It could be a new daycare or preschool program. Some might be starting kindergarten. Parents and caregivers might have changes in their schedules too. Nature can help kids cope. When children have spent time outdoors, they develop a connection to nature. Nature becomes a familiar and comforting friend. As kids deal with the challenges of something new, they can relax in the familiarity of nature. Many studies are proving nature-time lessens anxiety for kids and grownups.

before-nature

Enough for the information. Could you use a few ways to spend time outside with kids?

When morning starts at your house, look outside. Kids can go to the window and tell Nature, “Good Morning.” What’s the weather like? Sunny or cloudy? Kids can say good morning to the clouds, rain, puddles, rocks, flowers, plants, and anything else they see. Once you do go outside, listen as you walk along to hear if anything answers.

Pockets of nature might be hiding in towns and cities, but they will be there. Look for them in yards, patios, balconies, or other spaces. Dress for the weather and feel nature on your faces, whether it’s warm, cool, hot, cold, wet, dry, calm or windy.

Parks and playgrounds have areas where kids can just run around or kick a ball outside. Hopefully, there will be some grassy spaces. Blow bubbles, collect nature treasures, have a close encounter of the touch kind with sticks, dirt, and rocks.

time in nature for young children

A connection to nature will be one of the most powerful resources for your child’s well-being and security. Somehow, outdoor time seems to connect us to our inner nature. As support for growth and development, before going to kindergarten or other program, will your day include time in nature for young children?

To see the rest of the ready poster, check the Before I Go to Kindergarten post.

Olympics #5: Olympic Challenge to Connect to Nature

The Opening Ceremony in Rio issued an Olympic challenge to connect to nature. “It is not enough to stop harming the planet, it is time to start healing it,” was the message to the world. Each athlete was given a native tree seed and a small container of soil. They were invited to plant it in a nearby park, to start an Athletes Forest. This is a legacy that will grow.

Olympic challenge to connect to nature

 

Connecting to nature is a must for children. In the space of only one generation, children have been isolated from spending a huge part of their day outside. Yet, the need is still there. This lack of time in nature has been a factor in such concerns as increased obesity, anxiety, and depression in children. The healthy development of eyesight has been impacted with the high stimulation of electronic devices and the decrease of exposure to natural light.

For a play-of-the-day, let’s take the message of the Games to heart to spend some time in nature. Here are 10 suggestions:

  • Go for a hike or nature walk. Nature isn’t limited to wilderness, it’s in neighborhoods too. Look around for trees, rocks, flowers, sky, and clouds. Turn over a rock to check for bugs and other critters.
  • Spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic.
  • Blankets also make great forts. Is there a space to make one outside?
  • Pick up sticks. A stick is like nature’s magic wand.

    play with sticks

  • Nature chefs. Kids can make their own nature soup with bits of grass, flowers, leaves, and other treasures. Stir with a stick.
  • Roll down a hill. Some areas have hills just right for rolling. Adults need to check for rocks and other hazards and make sure it’s a safe space.
  • I Spy with a little eye something that is green. There should be lots of things green. Try other colors too.
  • I Spy with a little ear something that is soft, like a bird song, or a breeze in the trees. Nature makes loud sounds too like waves crashing and rocks smashing.
  • Follow the leader is a fun game. Take turns being leaders along paths, over rocks, and beside streams. Sometimes, leaders just want to lie down and look at the clouds.

    nature treasure hunt

  • Treasure or scavenger hunts are always interesting. Kids can search on their own, or you can name things for them to find.

How will your family answer the Olympic challenge to connect to nature?

Space Activities for Kids #17: Moon Rocks Bottle Activity

Space activities do not have to be elaborate to be fun for kids. This moon rocks bottle activity was engaging and simple, full of learning and play. It appeals to any child who likes rocks, and that’s most, if not all of them.

moon rocks bottle activity

Finding a pile of small rocks is usually easy. Rocks have a sort of magnetic or magic attraction for kids. They’ll know where to find some. Besides some rocks, kids need an empty water bottle with a wide mouth. Once kids, rocks, and water bottle are all in the same place, it’s time to count down, blast off, and journey to the moon. When they have landed, they start filling the water bottle with the moon rocks.

moon rocks bottle activity

Yes, that’s it. That’s the play-of-the-day. While a grownup could fill up the bottle in just a minute or two, a child picks up each rock one-by-one and checks it out. It’s as if each rock has a story and kids want to hear it. Kids look for lines, swirls, spots, curves, edges, and other markings on rocks. Little Sister spent quite a long time filling her bottle with moon rocks.

This moon rocks bottle activity may not seem like much, but there’s a lot to it. For example,

  • Problem-solving: Kids need to think about the best way to make each rock go in the bottle. It might not fit the first time. If it doesn’t fit, what then? Maybe a plastic shovel will help or maybe not.
  • Making choices: What rock will come next? What should happen to ones that don’t fit? We don’t think making choices is a skill that needs practice, but how often do we ask kids if something they did was a good choice?
  • Size and space: Not outer space this time, but inner. Kids need lots of experiences to know if something will fit in a space or not. This can be a challenge for some adults.
  • Concentrating: Filling a bottle with rocks needs eyes and hands working together on the activity. This demands some focusing and paying attention.
  • Language: This is a solitary activity, but chances will want to show someone what they have done. They will also tell about it. There could be a story about how some rocks didn’t fit.
  • Fine-muscle control: At this age, the small muscles in the hand, wrist, and fingers are still developing. Picking up and manipulating the moon rocks is good exercise.
  • Emotional regulation: A rock that doesn’t fit can be pretty frustrating. Kids get a chance to cope with their emotions as they figure out what to do.
  • Goal-setting: Filling up a whole bottle is quite an achievement. Play can involve work but when done, kids can feel proud of their effort.

These are some of the ways kids learn as they play. Would your child enjoy this moon rocks bottle activity?

Space Activities #5: Connect to Earth’s Nature

The arrival of the space probe Juno to Jupiter is tremendously exciting. How about another planet? Kids can play and connect to Earth’s nature. This week some special instruments were turned on, including Juno’s eyes. For today’s space activity, pretend to turn on your child’s eyes. Go outside and check what those eyes see on … Continue reading Space Activities #5: Connect to Earth’s Nature

Space Activities #1: Sky Watching for Kids

The solar spacecraft Juno intersected with the planet Jupiter. This exciting news has inspired the play-of-the-day: sky watching for kids, both big and little. Binoculars can add to the fun, but aren’t necessary. During the summer isn’t the best time to see stars and space, unless you live in the southern half of the world … Continue reading Space Activities #1: Sky Watching for Kids

International Mud Day, Glorious MUD!

Get Your MUD On! It’s here! It’s here! International Mud Day, that is. Oh yes, International Mud Day, glorious MUD. Aka, Ultimate Kids’ Day. If you were a young child, wouldn’t you think mud is something to celebrate? Today isn’t a day to be hesitant about mud. No, instead it’s a day to embrace mud wholeheartedly. … Continue reading International Mud Day, Glorious MUD!

Play-of-the Day: Take Dad Outside for Fathers Day

Could there be a particular reason Father’s Day comes along in mid-June? Maybe, it’s so we can take dad outside for Fathers Day and spend time in nature. If the weather is cooperating, Father’s Day can start with a breakfast picnic outside. Sticky cinnamon buns, breakfast tortilla rollups, and coffee, hot or iced, in a … Continue reading Play-of-the Day: Take Dad Outside for Fathers Day

Bubble Fun and Learning #20: Dandelion Bubbles

On a walk today, we saw some dandelions near the sidewalk. We picked a few because they were just what we needed for making dandelion bubbles. Recently, we saw this video on a FB post from I Heart Crafty Things.  Rachel and her 3 kids share all kinds of activities on the blog I Heart Crafty … Continue reading Bubble Fun and Learning #20: Dandelion Bubbles

Bubble Activities #11:  Chasing Bubbles Nature Time

In only one generation, children have been separated from Nature. For a simple but magical activity, kids can have some chasing bubbles nature time. Part of the fun of blowing bubbles is then chasing and trying to catch them. Outside, in a backyard or park, kids will also catch nature. On a calm day, the … Continue reading Bubble Activities #11:  Chasing Bubbles Nature Time