connecting to nature

Earth Day Forest Bath for Kids – Connecting to Nature and Trees

A marvelous idea for celebrating is to spend some time with trees, an Earth Day Forest Bath for kids and adults. Even if it means visiting a forest, a bath conveys the sense of being immersed in them, relaxing in the stillness and connecting our energy to the forest.

kids need more hiking timeIn Japan, Forest Bathing has been part of the national public health program for decades. It’s been proven to “lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.”

While this is for adults, children benefit too. The very young suffer from stress and anxiety. Childhood comes with attacks on the immune system as kids cope with all kinds of contagious challenges. Building a connection, a relationship to nature while they are young will support children for a lifetime.Finding a place with trees can be a challenge in urban areas. Parks are often the best option unless you can go to a wilderness area close by. Once you get to a place with trees, spend a minute or two with your child looking at them. Look down on the ground for pine cones. Then, look up. Do the trees go far up to the sky? Any spring blossoms?earth day activites for kids

Not all trees are the same. The leaves are different, but closer to the ground, the bark is too. Some trees have rough bark and some are smooth. Young kids won’t want to spend much time looking at trees, but feeling the bark is quite sensory. Trees with exposed roots can be a home for little creatures, real and imaginary ones. The branches and leaves may be sheltering a bird’s nest but nests are hard to see.

One of the most fun activities for kids is to climb a tree. Of course, this can be risky although it is magical, almost like being able to fly.

child climbing trees

In some areas, there may be tiny trees available for planting. Many commercial nurseries have specials on trees for Earth Day. This is wonderful day for connecting to nature. Will in include an Earth Day forest bath for kids and the rest of the family?

 

Magic Wishes for Preschool/Kindergarten: Kids Need More Nature Hikes

Kids need more nature hikes because…hiking time outdoors in nature changes our brains; it helps bodies, brains, and hearts for all ages, wee ones to grown ones.

Q. Just imagine after St. Patrick’s or April Fools, you were somehow left with one wish or a magic wand. A sort of realistic one, but your wish or magic had to be for children’s early programs, like a daycare, playschool, or kindergarten. What would you wish for? Recently, I asked several parents of young kids this question and here are their answers.

jodie-rs-nature-time

A. Jodie, mom of 2, also a chef. “More outdoor exploring.”

Science is saying the same thing: kids need more nature hikes. Some research, reported in the article “Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brain,” by Alanna Kelter, gives powerful reasons. One of these is it can reduce the number of negative thoughts.

Have you ever had a song stuck in your hear, or someone’s words? When we hear criticism from a colleague, boss, family member, stranger, or even a friend sometimes we play it over and over and over in our minds. It can keep us from focussing on other issues and even interfere with our sleep. Kids can do that too. Bet you have heard your child ask for something every 3 seconds after you’ve said no. They have whatever it is they want stuck in their thoughts. It’s no fun to have mean words echoing in there. Hiking can greatly reduce them. Perhaps it’s because we eventually hear the voice of nature instead in birdsong, wind whispers, and other sounds.kids need more hiking time

Attention is a learned skill and for some, like those with ADHD, it’s a challenging issue. Hiking time can increase the ability to attend to something and decrease impulsive behaviors. This makes sense because when in nature, all our senses are attuned to the same channel. As our bodies slow down and release tension, we ease up on the reactions and have time to think and choose an action.

Besides hiking, kids need, as Jodie says, time for outdoor exploring. Nature is full of wonders, from tiny ants and other creatures, to sky-touching trees and massive mountains. As kids wonder, they also connect to nature and to their own inner selves.

Yes, for sure, kids need more nature time. Thank you, Jodie. Is this something you wish for too?

(Mrs. A explores the importance of outside play time and nature connections in her 1 2 3 Kindergarten School videos for parents and careviers.)

Kids’ Nature March Into Spring – Time to Play Outdoors

To celebrate the day (finally!) how about a kids’ nature march into spring? Well, maybe more accurately a walk or run. No matter how kids move, the first day of spring is a call to go outdoors. Is there a playground in your area or a park? Besides sliding and swinging, a big, open space invites kids to run and chase. Nature herself seems to pick up the beat of little feet running and jumping with spring fever. early-physical-development

Once kids are dressed for the weather, it’s time to go outside. You may choose to go for a walk and see if there are any signs of spring. In some areas, as long as snow isn’t still hiding everything, there may be new grass showing on the ground. For those really lucky, a few early flowers may be reaching up to the sun. Often, spring rain or melting snow will leave puddles just right for splashing and jumping. And perhaps some dirt so boots and rain pants can get muddy. rainy day fun puddleLooking up in the sky, trees may be wearing hints of green or bright, tiny leaves. Pink and white blossoms decorate some branches with the promise of spring. Birds could be returning and starting to build nests. Sometimes, noses can pick up a smell of spring too.

spring-activitiesNature shares her different colors, moods, and seasons with us when we take time to connect. The most recent statistics reveal that currently young children spend only 7 minutes a day outdoors in nature. It’s like the latest generation is divorced from what used to be the most common activity of kids, playing outside. How much of your day were you in the house? For many of us, we spent little time inside and most of our lives out. Not only have kids lost the connection to nature, they have also lost much of their play time. earth day fun for kidsFor a simple play-of-the-day today, can you and your child enjoy some fresh air and celebrate the day with a kids’ nature march into spring?

 

February Friendship #3: Kids Can Be Friends with Nature

February is friendship month and kids can be friends with nature. When we think about it, a connection to nature supports us for an entire life-time. This weekend, in our area, we got to experience both positive and negative aspects to nature. Snow started early Friday and hasn’t really quit now for 4 days. The … Continue reading February Friendship #3: Kids Can Be Friends with Nature

New Year’s Resolution Word W= Wild: 16 Ways Kids Go Wild For Nature

As a new year’s resolution, spending more time in nature benefits us all, kids and adults. Could you use some ideas on ways kids go wild for nature? 1. Go for a Run, Walk, or Hike. This is the simplest to do anytime. It could be a park or even just the neighborhood. Urban areas … Continue reading New Year’s Resolution Word W= Wild: 16 Ways Kids Go Wild For Nature

Play-of-the-Day Advent Calendar – Christmas Outdoor Fun

Is the weather in your area part of Christmas outdoor fun? No matter where you live, dress kids for the weather and take them outside for fun and play. This weekend, it’s snowing here. With the temperature right around freezing, it’s perfect weather for making snowmen. That’s certainly what the kids did as soon as … Continue reading Play-of-the-Day Advent Calendar – Christmas Outdoor Fun

Nature Dragon Treasure Hunt for Kids

Usually, dragons have some kind of treasure to guard; a nature dragon would have outdoor treasure so let’s go on a nature dragon treasure hunt. Crowns are optional. There are so many different kinds of dragons. Some dragons are scary, some are helpful. Often dragons are mean and sometimes they are friendly. For homes, we … Continue reading Nature Dragon Treasure Hunt for Kids

Halloween Nature Play – Puddles and Pumpkins Start with P

Where we live, October is sometimes called Rocktober because of the weather but with the right costume, it’s fun to go out for some Halloween nature play. The nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby goes, “When the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks the cradle will drop.” That’s what our weather is often … Continue reading Halloween Nature Play – Puddles and Pumpkins Start with P

Fall In The Air: Let’s Go Outside for October Nature Time

If Nature Could Talk What Would It Say? Fall is in the air and what better way for kids to start this exciting, colorful month than some fun outdoors with October nature time? Let’s play outside. Fall isn’t the only thing in the air, so is this little one. Good thing his dad is right … Continue reading Fall In The Air: Let’s Go Outside for October Nature Time