Thursday, May 12, 2011

Connecting Our Kids with Nature

SustainaMom is hosting a Green Moms Carnival this morning...

When I first proposed the topic “Inspiring Ideas for Getting Back to Nature with Kids,” I was frustrated because I wanted to take my 4-year-old son camping but I was scared to tackle a big trip on my own. I was looking for alternative ideas. Ironically, my husband finagled a day off from each of his two jobs and we managed our first family camping trip just this past weekend! For the past 5 days, my son has been asking, “Can we go camping-and-sleep-in-the-tent-ALL-NIGHT-LONG again?” I’ll say that indicates it was a successful trip!

Discovering “that thing with 100 legs,” wherein a centipede
is the mystical creature of the camping trip.

I don’t know if we’ll swing another camping trip again this summer, but in the meantime, I’m grateful to have read all of the alternative back-to-nature ideas shared by the Green Moms Carnivalists!

The resounding theme from these posts: keep it simple!

Citizen Green makes the point that we don’t have to take our kids on a grand adventure. Kids are just as excited to explore the backyard. She says, “Nature includes plants, fungi, bugs, worms, not only dramatic animals like giraffes and elephants.”

She also points out that education is important to help kids make the connection to nature. As an example of an environmental education tool for kids, she shares information about children’s book “Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill.”

Climate Mama shares five fun nature activities that are great for any backyard or park — and the ideas remind us that reconnecting with nature isn’t a big production. It’s the simple things that enchant our kids!

In “Getting Back to Nature With Kids: Bit by Bit, Bug by Bug,” Lynn at OrganicMania proves that 45 minutes and a little conscious effort are all you need to squeeze an adventure into an afternoon.

Green Bean takes her inspiration from a bench that beckons passersby. Getting back to nature isn’t always an “activity.” Sometimes it is passive and we just need to slow down long enough to be aware of the nature all around us.

Crunchy Chicken takes her kiddos exploring on the beach as they look for the exotic and the mundane at low tide. Crunchy casts another vote for the everyday adventure — and the truly natural: “If all we do is wow our kids with sea otter tricks, jumping killer whales and stories of deadly sharks and eels, how do they garner respect for the little guys whose lives make those farther up the food chain possible?”

We may not all have a beach in our backyards, but we do have native plants, birds and animals. What is native in your neck of the woods?

Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter suggests a lichen scavenger hunt with educational undertones. (I remember being quite intrigued by lichen as a child — I always thought the trees had some sort of disease. Never knew you could monitor air quality by the lichen!)

Karen at Best of Mother Earth teaches children to make seed starter pots out of newspaper. What a great, indoor, anytime, cheap activity that really gives kids insight into our connection (or dependence) on nature!

Take it a step further and plant a garden. Beth Terry at My Plastic Free Life is stepping away from her computer and getting her hands dirty. There’s nothing like a garden to force you to make time to be outside!

Eco-novice encourages us to embrace the mess and the chaos that comes from exploring the outdoors. She has great ideas for helping your kids see the connections in nature once you get outside.

Katy at Non-Toxic Kids sees nature as a opportunity to encourage our kids' imaginations to go wild. She builds fairy houses in the woods with her daughters!

Tiffany at Nature Moms shares a few bigger ideas, from her dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail with her kids to creating a certified wildlife habitat in the backyard. I love her ideas, especially that of “equipping kids for nature observation.” There’s nothing like binoculars or a magnifying glass to encourage kids to really look around and discover nature.

On the other hand, we can’t force our kids to enjoy nature to the exclusion of pop culture. In “I Took Her Camping; She Took Her iPod,” Diane of Big Green Purse reminds us that a parent’s job is to provide the opportunity to connect with nature.

Lisa at Retro Housewife Goes Green reminds us that teens aren’t the only ones that need to step away from the screens. Adults also need to make time for nature. Once you finish reading Lisa’s post, shut off the computer and get outside!

How do you help your kids connect with nature — and make time for your own connection with the world away from your computer?

Next month, OrganicMania is hosting a "Half-Year Resolutions" carnival. Details here.


Lynn from said...

Wow...thanks so much for hosting. First of all, as I blogged, your topic inspired me to have that wonderful adventure I wouldn't have otherwise enjoyed.

And I got it twice...this morning, instead of heading to the gym, I went back to the trail and took the pics of the "Save the Trail" signs.

Between this post and Erin's from yesterday, I've been shown once again what a true gift blogging is.

Thank you!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I'm really looking forward to checking out all these posts. Thanks for hosting!

Karen Hanrahan said...

us moms and carnivalists need to stick together!....always love our combining of ideas and experiences - thanks for hosting!!

Harriet said...

Love the way it all "came together" and the KIS (keep it simple) thread that winds it's way through..if we hope to raise a generation that cares about nature, they need to experience it first hand...thanks!!

Green Bean said...

Thank you for hosting!! I think that all the other comments - that were here yesterday - were deleted due to the long Blogger outage. Happened on my blog as well. Anywho, great topic. Cannot wait to read through all the posts for ideas.

Anonymous said...

Ya'll inspired me to get off my behind and think about why the outside observations are so powerful to the child.

Thanks for the inspiration.


Karen Hanrahan said...

terrific gathering of commentary ...great idea for a topic too!! Thanks for hosting!!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I have had a lot of fun reading through these posts. Suggestions both grand and simple, and a lot of food for thought.

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Such a great post! So glad that I found your blog.

Harrriet said...

Love the thread of "simplicity" that weaves it's way through..thanks for sharing all these great ideas.


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