Children and Mother Nature–I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again:
Children are supposed to BE in and amongst Her!
Here’s just a brief summary of some of the benefits of children and Mother Nature:
● Just as PLAY addresses all developmental areas in children, so too, does being in Nature by…
◦Supporting Problem-Solving and Creativity
◦Increasing Children’s Ability to Focus
◦Improving Social Relations
◦Supporting Physical Development
◦Improving Impulse Control and Decreasing STRESS
●Increasing Academic Performance
With all those benefits, it’s obvious every effort should be made to insure children are given time to experience the great outdoors every day! Children and Mother Nature can be as simple as spending time in their backyard or a local park. Or visiting one of our National Parks!
Grand Canyon National Park…
I was able to accompany grandbub #2 and family in his first visit to the Grand Canyon. The sights were awe-inspiring! Photos just do not do it justice! And though I’m sure he won’t remember this visit the process of just being out in Mother Nature will help lay the foundation of creating the habit of being in and one with Nature.
More in the Desert…
In addition to visiting the Grand Canyon, we hiked trails in Sedona. The Mescal Mountain Loop hike was my favorite as everywhere I looked was spectacular! True, my mode of transport wasn’t as nice as grandbub #2, but I didn’t feel the terrain was so extreme I needed hiking sticks.
I was definitely glad I wore my hiking boots though because there were sharp- edged rocks in several sections of the path in addition to slick rock and beautiful, red sand. We didn’t see very many other hikers but we did see several mountain bikers!
Sand in the desert is no surprise right? And Sedona is in a desert! It’s located in the upper Sonoran Desert. But I was surprised by the amount and variety of vegetation there was. Sedona is also known for vortexes. I didn’t experience any extra energy. But really, I’m not sure I’d notice any more than I’ve already got!
Speaking of notice…
Did you notice my attire at the Grand Canyon? The jacket has a ‘Grand Canyon’ emblem and my hat a flap in the back to shield my neck from sun. Well, Mr Teacher Karen had quite a field day with it.
A little background before I go into that! Mr Teacher Karen and I have been together for decades and decades and decades….and decades—yes, I’m older than dirt. We dated for almost 4 years before becoming engaged, but still the church we were being married in required couples go through premarital counseling. In general, I think that’s a good idea. I vividly remember one session in particular. The pastor had talked about a variety of topics and asked a slew of questions. This is the question (and responses) I remember to this day. Pastor asked:
What do you appreciate/admire in the other?
He posed that question to me first. I thought long and hard, which is not necessarily my M.O. Usually I’ll spit out my opinion straightaway, but I wanted to give a thoughtful, reasoned answer. At last, I said what I admired most and respected about my soon-to-be husband was his intelligence. That was true then and it’s true now. He is very logical in his thinking and reasoned in his responses.
Now the spotlight turned. I eagerly anticipated what this man, who proclaimed his love for me, was going to say, as to what he appreciated or admired in me. If you’d been a fly on the wall you would’ve seen me on the edge of my seat yet comfortably awaiting my future husband’s measured response, which is typical of him. But he spoke right up!
“She makes me laugh.”
WHAT?! I cannot begin to tell you how shocked I was at the time. However after decades and decades and decades…and yes, still decades I can say marriage does require the ability to laugh. To laugh at yourself, at a situation and together. And rest assured, I am STILL providing Mr Teacher Karen will opportunities to LAUGH!
It’s All About the Uniform…
This most recent laughable time was the result of my attire on our route along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were walking, taking note of the Trail of Time. I was approached by a family inquiring how much further it was to Hopi Point for the shuttle back to the Visitor’s Center. I happened to know because that’s where we were heading for lunch. (BTW the El Tovar Lodge has classic lodge architecture with a southwestern, rustic flair. It’s a gorgeous place with delicious food!)
Well, Mr Teacher Karen got wind of this and had a field day, christening me as: Ranger Karen! So maybe I can see how that family got the wrong impression what with my outfit and all. But don’t let on to my husband!
Back to children and Mother Nature…
Have you heard of the Every Kid in a Park program? It’s a fabulous program encouraging children and families to get outdoors; exploring and learning in the public lands, waters and parks.
All families are busy, so get out your calendar, if you must, to schedule children and Mother Nature time. Write it down and follow through because it’s important to #OptOutside and #LeaveNoChildInside!
Now, seeing as how I really AM Teacher Karen I will recommend you
READ: The Adventures of Salt and Soap by Lori April Rome. It’s the true story of 2 adorable puppies who somehow end up at the Grand Canyon. These pups go on some amazing adventures and finally find a perfect home with a park ranger. If you’re kidlets love dogs they’ll enjoy this story!
Extend the fun and learning …
Follow up with a song about another famous dog: Bingo! If you’re not familiar with the this song, you can hear me sing it:
Extend the song by adding different items to substitute in for the claps. For example, let your kidlet use rhythm sticks or triangles. Another idea would be for your kiddo to use their body in a different way. So instead of clapping on the letter, they could stomp or jump or turn.
Recall: Learning is enhanced when children are able to incorporate movement!
PLAY is the Way …
Mr Teacher Karen and I did many hikes this summer. A lot of the time the trail was marked with a cairn. Along the trails in Sedona they had something similar. There were rock pilings noting the trail, but rather than having them stacked they were contained in wire cages. One way to not worry about them being knocked down or blown over! We stuck with a traditional cairn. This is the cairn we created in the bowl on Mescal mountain:
Cairns on trails show travelers the way. You can count on ME to keep pointing you to PLAY as the WAY young children learn BEST! Hey! You might want to gather up some flatter rocks and let your kidlets make their own cairns!
Yours in Play!
or should that be Ranger Teacher Karen….