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Monday, March 22, 2010

Get Back to Nature

National Wildlife Federation has come up with a campaign called Green Hour.  Basically, research shows that children are getting more "screen" time than "green" time.  The National Wildlife Federation is encouraging parents to go outside with their children for at least 1 hour a day.

Here are some suggested activities...
some are from NWF and some are ideas I have used in the past

1.  Make a nature map of your backyard or neighborhood.  Draw the various trees and other natural landscapes.  Label the map with the various types of vegetation or wildlife.

2.  Use the information gathered from the nature map to go on a nature scavenger hunt.  Take a walk around your neighborhood looking for various wildlife and landscapes.

3.  Create a nature table.  It doesn't actually have to be a table.  You can use a bowl, shoebox, glass jar, vase, etc.  As you and your family collect things from nature, put them on your "nature table".  Discuss the items.  brainstorm other items to look for the next time you are outside together. 

I change our nature table each season or holiday.  Changing it often enough is key to keeping the children's interest.  We also include art projects that are inspired by nature and books that have an important seasonal meaning to us.  Right now, we have the books When the Root Children Wake Up and How Robin Saved Spring on our table.

4.  Work with your child to build a fort or other outdoor sanctuary.  This could be as simple as hollowing out a space in the bushes to hide, throwing a couple of blankets over tree limbs, etc.  It might just be a quiet area of a garden that has things that are inviting for children... child size bench or hammock, pretty stones, place to dig in the dirt, plants that attract wildlife, etc.

5.  Use your 5 senses.  Take a walk or lay quietly in the grass.  Engage all of your senses in exploring the world around you.  Sit outside and draw a picture of your feelings or what you are experiencing.

6.  Bring music outdoors.  Give everyone a play silk or long length of ribbon.  Be silly and dance to the music moving the play silk around as you dance.

7.  On a warm day use water and a paintbrush to practice letters, sight words, math problems, etc. on the fence or sidewalk. The great thing about this activity is that the water will evaporate and everyone stays cool.  Don't forget to allow a little extra water for squirting each other.  You know it is going to happen!

8.  the circle game

9.  Make a small garden.  It can be a patch of your yard or in containers.  Use part of your Green Hour every day to water and weed the garden.  Allow your child to pick the vegetables or flowers when they are ready.

10.  Plant a pizza garden.  Reuse tin cans from veggies to plant herbs.  Place the herbs in the kitchen windowsill to grow.  Once the herbs are ready to be picked use them to make the pizza sauce and sprinkle some on top of the pizza as well.

Herbs to consider... basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, etc.

REMEMBER...

try to get outside for 1 hour a day with your child. 

Go GREEN -- Not SCREEN.

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