After a few days of enjoying bird watching, making home-made bird feeders, forest walks, and basically falling in love with trees and nature again, I want to share a few sites that continue to re-inspire me. It is so important for children and parents to get outside and enjoy at least an hour of outdoor time each day. I feel like a new person when I get out and explore tree stumps or explain to my children how wonderful it is to see and touch an enormous tree because it means they’ve been on earth for many years. The process of getting all my kids dressed for cold weather and listen to the complaining about gloves or boots not fitting properly is almost enough to just abandon the whole idea, but once we are finally outside, the kids have the best time and I feel like a new mother ~ ready to teach, inspire, and I regain lots of patience. Nature really is magical and has a healing effect on myself and the kids.
Don’t know where to start with encouraging family enjoyment and the outdoors? Purchase a Nature Bag. This gift will far out-last its value because the ideas it inspires in a forest, backyard, or adventure walk are precious. I always try to remember my child won’t tell me how much they appreciated a treasure hunt, eye-spy or scavenger hunt….until they have children of their own and remember it fondly as a grown-up. Adults always come back to concepts and activities they enjoyed as children once they become a parent, so help create memories that imprint your child’s memory over a life time. It is parents finding the time, energy and enthusiasm to setup such a special activity. The two moms that created the Nature Bag make it easy including leaf viewers, a magnifying glass, a blindfold, and their eco-activities included in a booklet that are truly amazing. Really, re-introduce your child to nature this Valentines Day and enjoy the rewards this gift will bring your entire family. Click here to find locations that sell this product.
I have deep respect for the two website that inspire me constantly with new ideas about how to get my children to enjoy nature and fun activities. The BEST activity all four of my kids enjoyed this winter season I learned from the mom writing for Nature For Kids. You really get the sense that she knows what works for children and nature, she reminded me of the craft of making peanut butter bird feeders. Pine cones you collect, cover with peanut butter, and then roll in birdseed. Hang up high and away from your house, so only birds are encouraged to feed ~ this had been such a blast for even my two year olds to participate with. The amount of birds we’ve watched come to our backyard with these feeders is simply amazing! This leads me onto a connected eco-activity…
…Green Hour – I’ve mentioned them before and I’m a huge fan. This site simply exists to help re-connect your children with nature for one hour each day. The amount of nature-based activities they’ve listed are simply amazing, but their ‘bird journal’ stuck in my brain because this activity combined with the bird feeder, has simply been the best kid’s activity ever in this household. I purchased my boys a bird sight-seeing book, and then gave them a journal and pen. They write down the page number from the book and species of bird and record a mark for each of these birds that come to investigate the bird feeder. I had no idea that our backyard was filled with Black Eyed Junco birds….I would have just assumed they were Chickadees. A great help for kids that can’t read is to print off pictures of the bird species for their journals so it’s easy to cross match with their book! It’s hilarious and wonderful that my kids act like a rock star entered my backyard when a ‘Winter Wren’ or ‘Bewick’s Wren’ makes an appearance.
Kids are just naturally drawn to nature. That must be why a tip for colicky babies is to take them for a walk or when children are just miserable, you put them in boots and give them freedom to ‘go nuts’ in a puddle…suddenly, these ailments are gone. It is parents finding the energy to make the outdoors exciting and fun. I hope some of the resources I’ve mentioned help your family discover how refreshing and fun nature can be ~ just go outside.