connecting to nature

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.

kids can be friends with nature

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 kids went sledding down a big hill at the school, made snow angels in the front yard, rolled down a small slope in the backyard, and made several snowmen. They also ran around the paths of a Fox and Geese wheel and with their dad’s help built a snow fort. For a snowball target, they used a hula hoop set upright and tried to throw them thru the circle. Sometimes they missed and caught each other. Thankfully, the snow clothes dried on the registers overnight so they will be ready for more snow play today.

The negative aspects were having to shovel the driveways and sidewalks several times and some slips and falls. Fingers and toes got pretty cold but a hot bath and some hot chocolate helped with that.

Your area may not have the snow for nature play, (you can be glad if you don’t) but you will have something else. Just being outside is a start. Check out the sky above and ground below. Clouds are never the same as the day before. What’s the temperature? Is there any breeze? A quick glance near our feet may reveal something alive and growing, either plants or small creatures. There could be a patch of sun on the sidewalk or a puddle on the path. playing in puddles

This advice is from the side GreenHeart Education: Helping children to make friends with Nature is something we must do when they are young, in order to give them a lasting sense of comfort in and connection to the natural world, and a deep understanding of their place within it. (Make Friends with Nature)There are some great ideas for ways kids can be friends with nature, including making playdates for nature just as we make them with other friends. How can your child play with nature today?

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?

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 often have bits of nature tucked here and there.

2. Hunt for Fairies and Gnomes. If you have woods nearby, check them out for fairies and gnomes. Because these creatures are tiny, we have to look close to the ground. That’s also where real animals hide. What might you find?

3. Picnic Time. Summer is the best time for picnics, but picnic ways kids go wild for nature can happen at other times of the year too. Winter picnics go best with a thermos of hot chocolate.

4. Nature Soup. The ingredients for nature soup depend on the season. Kids need to gather up what’s around them, like sticks, little stones, bits of grass, flower petals, pine cones, and whatever else they can find.

5. Dig It. Have shovel will dig. This could be sand or snow, rocks or dirt. Spoons and cups are other tools to use.

6. Blanket Fort. Typically, these are made in the house but can also be outside. Not so good in the rain, but any other time of year create a sort of partnership with nature because kids stretch out on the ground.

7. Rollin’, rollin’. Could also be other actions like jumping, running, climbing, etc. A hill seems to call out for rolling while a flat area invites running. Either way, the play is body contact with the earth.

8. Rocks Rock. Countless possibilities. Throw rocks in a puddle or lake, pile them up, stuff them in pockets, line them up, climb them, bang two together, paint or collect them. Reminder to check pockets before doing laundry. Ways kids go wild for nature can be hard on washing machines.

9. The Dirt Pile. For a child’s idea of the ultimate place to play, look for a pile of dirt. Good think it washes off in the tub because kids will get it right down to skin level.

10. Pick Berries. This goes on the summer list. The spring list might be looking for the first flowers, the fall list checking out leaves turning color, the winter list watching for snow.

11. Books and Stories. Many children’s books and stories talk about nature, both the positive and the scary aspects. Share your favorites and ask the local library for some.

12. Farmers Market. This is one way to get up right close and hold nature in a hand, plus take some home in a bag. So many colors, shapes, sizes, and smells.

13. Splash in the Rain. Or, singing too. With an umbrella, rain coat, mud pants, and boots, kids are dressed for the weather. Sometimes, tho, it’s fun to just run out the door, squeal, and run back in.

14, I Spy. Use all the senses. What do eyes see, ears hear, hands touch, and noses smell? This changes for the seasons.

15. Scavenger Hunt. You can create a list of things to find outside. Of course, there will be more than what’s on the list.

16. Follow the Leader. Take turns being the leader and going outside for some time getting up close and personal with nature.

In the space of just one generation, somehow kids have lost the connection to the nature. Instead of the call, “Go West,” the words have changed to “Go Wild.” This isn’t wild in the crazy and wacky sense, but like the natural state or wilderness. We are seeing the lack of it in kids. Journalist, author, science adviser, and parent Richard Louv writes about children and Nature-Deficit disorder. Some real concerns linked to this divorce from nature in kids include higher rates of obesity and attention difficulties, as well as emotional and social concerns, along with lower rates of fitness, use of the senses, and physical activity. You can include the ways kids go wild for nature that work best for your family. Does this list inspire more ideas?



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.

Christmas outdoor 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 there was enough of the white stuff on the ground. Phase Two, after a pit stop which meant getting everything off and putting it back on with new dry mittens, was going back outside and sliding down a bit of a hill. There’s nothing like sledding to practice the opposites of up and down, dry and wet, and cold and warm.

What is it about snow that encourages such a close encounter with nature? Definitely, snow appeals to all the senses, sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Practically every single action from just walking around, to making snow angels, to playing Fox and Geese leaves a mark on the snow. Zooming fast is exciting and there’s an element of risk.Christmas outdoor play

Winter play can happen even without snow. Pieces of cardboard boxes are fun for sliding down hills. Kicking a ball is fun any time of year. Tag games like Freeze Tag or Statues are sort of like the weather. Check the ground for sticks and pinecones and other treasures.

Do your memories of Christmas fun include playing outside? Did the weather influence your play? For past generations, when we remember what we did during the holiday season, a significant part is what we did outside. Will that be the same for our kids? Think about how much easier it is nowadays to be indoors. We have to make a special effort to make sure kids get time to play outside. One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is a connection to nature. Will having some Christmas outdoor fun be part of your child’s day?


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

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. 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 … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #4: Time in Nature for Young Children

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 … Continue reading Olympics #5: Olympic Challenge to Connect to Nature

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