10 Fun and Active Ways to Get Out!
- Turn a walk into a safari. Take a closer look at birds, bugs, shrubs, and trees when you pass. Bring a magnifying glass to really zoom in.
- Play Camouflage Tag. All you need is a few people and an area with good hiding places, such as a playground, park, or wooded area.
- Find squirrel highways. Watch the squirrels in your yard or at a park for a while and see if you can identify the squirrels~ favorite routes~or ~squirrel highways.~
- Adopt a piece of the earth. Walk around your yard, neighborhood, or school and find an area that needs attention.
- Create your own treasure hunt. Kids will be more engaged if you include several weird or gross items on your list: a dead bug, a bird feather, a worm.
- Try cloud watching. If the stars by night are tricky to make out, look for shapes in the clouds instead. Ask your children what shapes they can see, and encourage them to share.
- Have a snow day. Build igloos or snow caves, or go sledding or snow tubing. Or try snowshoeing~no lift tickets are required.
- Adopt a tree. As a group or family, choose a favorite tree you can visit often. Take a photo of your tree every week or every month, and put the pictures in a series to see how it changes over the course of a year~or longer.
- Bring out the strollers. If your little ones are too small for more active Outdoors Dates, organize a stroller group instead. Meet for weekly nature walks.
- Volunteer at a public park. Volunteers do any number of things, including removing ivy, rebuilding trails, planting seeds, or painting picnic tables.
Numerous studies show that just being exposed to nature can improve memory and concentration, as well as raise test scores and grades. Exciting new research is also revealing that children with ADHD are greatly helped by spending some time in nature, and that even being in a classroom where they can view nature outside can aid concentration. Of course, there is also the aspect of physical development; being connected to nature keeps kids in better shape and helps in the fight against obesity.
You know if you've ever watched a group of children running, jumping, playing in the park. They are exercising! Nature also aids in social development, by reducing stress, paving the way for improved communication, and in spiritual development; as children wonder at the magnificence of their surroundings, their imagination is stirred. And according to research conducted at Cornell University, children who spend time in nature before age 11 are much more likely to grow up to be environmentally minded adults than kids who don't, important since our youngsters are responsible for the future of the planet.
At the same time, statistics reveal that 80 percent of children under age 2 and more than 60 percent of children ages 2 to 5 lack daily access to outdoor play, and that children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 6.5 hours a day staring at electronic screens.
The book is filled with fun and simple to help kids connect with nature.
About Judy Molland:
Judy Molland, who is an award-winning teacher and writer, has organized the book's 150 engaging activities, projects, games, and tips into targeted sections on outdoor activities, projects, green living, the 3 R's (reducing, reusing, recycling), and advocacy. Many of the activities Molland recommends include links to websites and organizations where readers will find additional instructions and resources. For example, a tip on building a bat house directs the reader to a woodworking website that offers free plans. The book also includes an extensive list of green and earth-friendly books, organizations, and websites that make connecting with nature easy and enjoyable for the individual reader, as well as for educators, youth leaders, and others.
July Molland knows first-hand about the pleasures and rewards of getting out into nature. An avid hiker, backpacker, and rock climber, she is a leader with her local chapter of the Sierra Club. She is the author of Straight Talk About Schools Today and is contributing education editor for Dominion Parenting Media, the largest syndicate of parenting magazines in the United States. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Parents, Instructor, Newsday, and on www.parenthood.com.
For more information, visit www.judymolland.com