nature play activities

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?



Fall Nature Treasure Hunt – Golden Moments of Time

Fall has its own special treasures and a fall nature treasure hunt comes with some we don’t see, like a connection to nature and golden feel-good moments.

fall nature treasure hunt

On a scavenger hunt, there is usually a list of things to find. These could be specific items like pine cones and seeds, or things to go with each color. On a treasure hunt, kids get to choose what they think has a special value. It isn’t always the same as what grownups choose, that’s for sure.

On a fall treasure hunt, kids find obvious items like leaves, pine cones, rocks, seeds, dried grass, feathers, and late flowers. These are the nature items. Little Sister found some bits of shiny paper and a piece of orange tape. To her, these were valuable too.

Big Sister collected her items all in one place and used them to make some nature art. She carefully placed the pine cones and rocks in a design and used a stick to make lines in the soft dirt. Little Sister just collected. How children play and interact reflects their personalities as well as their age.fall nature treasure hunt art

Whatever kids do, the nature treasures are part of the gold of the moment. Time in nature feels good on so many levels. Physically, our bodies respond to the sun, the warmth of the earth, and the air. We can stretch out kinks and warm our muscles. Emotionally, nature absorbs stress. Life has lots of moments that create anxiety for kids. They have to cope with a great deal of confusion and frustration as they figure out the world and the people around them. Mentally, nature seems to calm our worries. No wonder nature is so special.

Time in nature is a treasure for all of us. Although nature has a definite schedule and cycle, it is also timeless. Is there space in your child’s day for a fall nature treasure hunt and playtime?

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

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

A Daily Dose of Outdoor Time for Young Children

A popular author, Richard Louv has another great resource to encourage outdoor time for young children-Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life. The book includes 500 ways for families to spend time in nature. In the space of one generation, kids have become divorced from nature. They no longer spend most of their … Continue reading A Daily Dose of Outdoor Time for Young Children

Nature Soup: Go Wild for Nature #5

Nature play involves interaction as children both explore what is already there and create with it. Making nature soup is one way kids go wild for nature. The recipe for nature soup needs two main ingredients and takes advantage of an infinite number of additions and variations. The two essentials are a child and a … Continue reading Nature Soup: Go Wild for Nature #5

Nature Helps Kids Get Ready For Kindergarten and Life

Series Part #10: Kids Going to Kindergarten Need a Nature Connection When it comes to ways to help children get ready to go to kindergarten, you may be thinking about letters and numbers, but how about time in nature? This quote from the Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children’s Learning explains why: “Children learn … Continue reading Nature Helps Kids Get Ready For Kindergarten and Life