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 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?