Children In Nature
Kids in general don't go out and play like they did when I was
young. Increasingly they're inside, bonding with electronic devices,
learning about their world indirectly rather than through experience.
Writers like Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods) have written
eloquently of the dangers of this trend and the need to reverse it.
Recently in the library I found two lovely hands on activity guides to
help parents do just that.
Jennifer Ward's i love dirt (forward by Richard Louv) consists
of 52 activities grouped by season. Spring (activities for warm days
and rainy weather) includes focusing on outdoor sounds and building a
nest. Summer (activities for hot days and warm nights) includes ant
observation, creating a butterfly garden, and, my favorite, back yard
tenting. Fall (activities for cool days and cloudy weather) includes
finding a thinking spot, camoflage hide and seek, and watching spiders
spin webs. Winter (activities for cold days and snowy weather)
includes making food treats for birds, playing in the snow, and
looking for tracks and trails.
Joseph Cornell's Sharing Nature with Children is a 20th
anniversary edition. Cornell's fifty games are based on his
experience as a nature-awareness instructor and built around five
*teach less and share more
*focus the child's attention without delay
*look and experience first; talk later
*a sense of joy should permeate the experience (my favorite).
Each game is prefaced by a box listing what it teaches, where and when
it can be played, how many people are needed, optimum age range, and
special materials that may be needed. Some games include blind walk,
predator prey, scavenger hunt, animal clue relay, and bat and moth.
Narratives from Cornell's experiences enliven the book.
i love dirt is a great introduction to outdoor play. Just about
anyone anywhere can make the activities work. A lot are great for
teen age babysitters. Sharing Nature With Children takes a bit more
organization but still seems quite doable. This book would be a great
resource for groups like scout troops.
On a personal note, I was very lucky to grow up with parents who
appreciated nature. I spent much of my childhood at the beach, the
woods, anywhere wild and wonderful. The hubby and I did the same with
our kids. Some wealthier peers parents thought me negligent. I don't
agree. I think some of their most enchanting childhood hours were at
camp or tenting or just at a nearby stream, waterfall, and field,
climbing a favorite tree, sledding down Cow Hill...
A great big shout out goes out to parents who encourage or at least
allow their kids to play outside.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod