Do you remember catching fireflies, building tree forts or looking under rocks in a stream? How about jumping in piles of leaves and making snow angels?
Research shows that if you had rich nature experiences like these as a child, you probably grew up to have a deep connection with, and concern for, the environment.
But many of today’s children don’t share that connection. Studies show that the average child in North America spends over 2,700 hours per year in front of a glowing screen, and only 183 hours in unstructured outdoor play. The average child can identify 300 corporate logos, but only 10 native animals and plants.
There’s a price to pay for the epidemic of what author Richard Louv has dubbed “Nature Deficit Disorder”: High rates of childhood obesity and ADHD, and feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
To make matters worse, youngsters who don’t engage with nature become adults who are disconnected from the outdoor environment. This too often leads to less concern and less willingness to take action to protect it.
If you want the children in your life to grow up physically and mentally healthy - with a love of the outdoors and a reverence for our planet’s natural wonders – get them outside and having fun!
Two new books published in 2016 make it easy for parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers to help nurture a love of nature.
Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life is Louv’s newest book. While his previous works, The Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, focused on why spending time in nature is important, Vitamin N is a guidebook with 500 great ideas for getting kids to engage with nature.
The Big Book of Nature Activities by authors Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman is a similar guide packed with crafts, stories, information and inspiration to make outdoor learning fun. The book is organized around seasonal change and discovering what’s going on in nature every month of year.
Here are a few examples:
To learn more about Vitamin N, go to http://richardlouv.com/books/vitamin-n/. To learn more about The Big Book of Nature Activities, visit http://www.newsociety.com/Books/B/The-Big-Book-of-Nature-Activities.
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