When I was a kid, my mom would send me out into the world in the wee hours of the morning and wouldn’t even bat an eye if I didn’t return until the sun was setting. My friends and I would ride our bikes, climb hills, roll down the hills, capture frogs and keep lightning bugs in jars at night. We may not have been able to tell you the name of every plant we came across, but we certainly knew which were good to eat, which weren’t and what poison ivy looked like.
We loved nature and nature loved us. We were out in nature come rain or shine and that was just fine with us. Now a days, what will safety concerns and the allure of video games, it’s a rare occurrence to see children outside, even in their own front yards. How can the modern parent create an environment where children can enjoy nature safely? In honor of Earth Day (which is April 22), here are some suggestions that will get your children out breathing the fresh air and enjoying Mother Nature for years to come!
The Wonders of Your Own Back Yard
You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth for your children to enjoy the great outdoors. Your back yard has plenty of natural wonders to enjoy! Best of all, there isn’t any structure. Children are imposed with constant entertainment in a structured environment. Even a playground gives them the options of a swing set, monkey bars and a sandbox. They don’t have to use their imaginations. They already have everything they need to entertain them! Imagine what your children will discover and create when they have a blank slate in front of them. Watch from the porch or glance through the window while you let your children loose in the grass. If they need more motivation to play, give them a magnifying glass, a net to catch critters and a jar to entrap them. Imaginative playtime is sure to follow.
Singing in The Rain
Every parent who has had to endure a rainy day with a child can tell you there aren’t enough board games in the world to entrain them for whole twenty-four hours. Who says there isn’t any fun to be had in the rain? With proper preparation your child can splash through puddles and dance in the rain with the ducks without any risk of pneumonia. Watch your child delight in a world transformed by rain. The smells, the air and even the colors are different in the rain.
Take this time to explore the environment hand in hand. Ask them what they are experiencing. What do you smell? What colors do you see? Can you hear any birds? Save some earthworms, jump in puddles then dry off at home with towels and some hot chocolate. Your child will be pleased as punch and you’ll be glad to have them worn out and docile for the rest of the day.
Image credit: istockphoto.com