What are your fondest summer childhood memories? Do you remember the feeling of climbing a tree to the highest point and sitting on the wobbly branch as you looked out at the blue sky and watched the fluffy clouds move? Do you remember the empty lots where you spent hours creating forts and shelters out of the branches of trees? I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and my fondest childhood memories were being outside and exploring my natural environment. No one was plugged in and the families with television watched it together at designated times a few hours a week.
Our country is in a crisis and that crisis is unhealthy habits and lifestyles for children of all ages. We are in a society where we have convinced ourselves that organized adult driven sports and activities are equivalent to getting children outside. Organized sports are not a replacement for children simply exploring. Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in The Woods” talks about “Nature Ritalin -the unfolding evidence that time spent in green spaces helps children focus better and think more clearly. Mary Pfifer in her book, The Shelter Among Us-Rebuilding the American Family” discusses in depth how our plugged in culture is adding stress to children of all ages and how the media and its messages are anti-family. Pfifer strongly advises, unplug the iPod, the TV, the computer, the video games and simply go outside.
Here are three simple ways to explore outside this week with your children.
- Take a walk around the block and count how many birds’ nests you can see in the trees, porches, gutters. Do you see any baby birds waiting for their moms? What are they doing while they are waiting?
- Take another walk around the block and see if you can find in the flowers and trees every color in a rainbow. Sing this simple song; “Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple.” Repeat once Repeat twice. Makes a Rainbow Bright!
- Everyone in the family pick a favorite tree outside your house. Take a clipboard and paper and sketch the tree with the date of the drawing. Try drawing the same tree in two months, four months etc… Have the children and adults observe how does the tree change and why does the tree change?
This blog is brought to you by Pam Worth Director of Tiny Treks a nature exploration program for young children that has been established in the Northern California for 16 years.