Are you wanting to help the children in your life engage in nature, but it seems too complicated or time consuming?
Researchers are finding more and more these days the importance of engaging kids in nature experiences, yet how can we do that in today’s busy and nature opposite world? Richard Louv , author of The Last Child in the Woods, outlines in his book “the benefits of a strong nature connection—from boosting mental acuity and creativity to reducing obesity and depression, from promoting health and wellness to simply having fun.” ( http://richardlouv.com/)
Engaging kids in nature CAN be simple, and fun-to-boot! Here are some EASY low-prep ideas to get started:
- Plant Something. Plant a few small seeds in a garden pod or small cup. Put it by a window to water and watch. You could even plant a tree together, in your yard or school grounds.
- Easy accountability. Have a simple plant journal where kids record their daily plant growth (Here’s a Free Simple Plant Journal you could use!) You could even do an easy nature scavenger hunt to increase awareness.
- Get outside everyday. Consistency in the out-of-doors overtime really creates awareness and momentum to engage in future nature encounters. A simple walk on a wooded trail, while asking questions about the area, is a great place to start.
- Take time to observe. During your daily outside time, set aside a place or time to just watch nature quietly. This skill will probably take some time to develop, but make it fun by sharing with each other your observations (including sounds of birds etc).
- Create a space that is their own. If you have a garden space at home or school (community gardens are a great option as well), think about creating a special section that children can take ownership of. Children love to engage in planting, watering and harvesting. Consider planting some of each child’s favorite foods that they could pick and eat right out of the garden.
- Keep it simple. Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep it simple. Try not to over think, over prep, or expect too much (aka too many materials, hike 16 miles our first day, etc). The important thing is to simply expose kids to nature and have it be a positive experience. Our first goal is to awaken their curiosity to the natural world.
Engaging kids in nature is so important, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. What are some of your favorite ideas to get kids connected with nature?
Check out my Earth Day Unit for more fun nature-focused resources and printables:
I loved this Shae! Thanks so much for the ideas. I especially like the ones about gardens and taking time to sit still and observe nature. I hope to use all of these with Madison when the time (and her age) is right.
Thank you Merritt! It’s so hard even as adults to be outside and just “soak” it all in through our senses. I’m challenging myself to be more nature-aware as well. 🙂