When your kid’s only relationship with nature is an obsession with playing Angry Birds then you know you have a problem!
With recent studies showing more and more kids spending most of their free time indoors watching TV, online or playing video games you may not be alone! According to the author Richard Louv the result is increased levels of ‘nature deficit disorder’ amongst today’s children due to a growing ignorance of nature. Louv also identifies rising levels of behavioral problems and obesity as the fallout from this modern phenomena.
Dragging your children outdoors to connect with nature can feel like an uphill battle to begin with, but it doesn’t have to. With Spring officially here there’s no better time to go outdoors! Here are a few fun and creative ideas to get you started.
1. Organize a Bug Hunt
Turn over a rock or look under a flower pot for some creepy crawlers. Using a bug container will allow your kids to look closely at different worms and insects without getting too grossed out — just make sure to put the bugs back where you found them.
2. Start a Nature Notebook
A nature notebook can help your kids keep track of their observations. Spend thirty minutes a day finding interesting things to put in their notebook. They can draw pictures of what they see or take notes.
3. Get Gardening
By planting a garden, a child can experience the satisfaction that comes with caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life first hand. Gardening can also bring environmental awareness to kids at an earlier age.
4. Play The Garden Matching Game
Go outside with your kids and have them close their eyes, as you fill a paper bag with items from the garden. Gather pine cones, leaves, rocks, pebbles, flowers, etc. Have your children reach in the bag, pull out an object and hunt for a similar one in your yard. Continue until each item from the bag has a match.
5. Run a Garden Scavenger Hunt
Make your own scavenger hunt handout or use this handy guide. See how many things you and your children can find.
Technology is not commonly associated with getting outside however, but geocaching is an easy way to combine the two. It’s is a high-tech treasure hunt, where users search for treasures or “caches” using a GPS device to pinpoint the correct location.
7. Explore a Rotten Log
That dead tree or stump can be a great science lesson. Kids can investigate and note everything they see: what’s on the surface, moss, holes bored into the log, bugs and more. Ask your child questions about what bugs they saw and what they think they were doing there — like finding shelter or gathering food.
8. Hang up a Bird Feeder
Get a bird feeder or make one yourself using a pinecone and peanut butter, and put it outside near a window. Kids can look out the window whenever they please and it’s an easy and simple way to keep kids connected with nature.
9. Go Nature Walking
Whether you live in a city, a suburb or a rural area, a nature walk is a simple way to get your kids outside. Even just walking around your block, kids can observe trees, bugs and birds they see along the way. To make a walk with your kids a little more interesting, let a penny lead the way! When you come to a road, turn or intersection, flip a cent. If it lands on heads, go right and if it lands on tails, turn left.
10. Plan a Day Trip
Whether it’s a trip to a park, museum or field, going on a day trip is a fun way for you and your kids to get out of the house and learn more about nature.
How do you get outside with your kids? Share your hints and tips using our comments box below.