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 benefits:
● 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! It can be as simple as spending time in their backyard or a local park. Or visiting one of our National Parks!
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.
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! You’d be surprised for the amount and variety of vegetation there was being as Sedona is in a desert! (It’s located in the upper Sonoran Desert.) And though Sedona is also known for vortexes, I didn’t experience any extra energy…but really, I’ve got so much already would I notice a little more?
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…but 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 to 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, but this is the question (and responses) I remember to this day. He asked:
What do you appreciate/admire in the other?
He posed that question to me first and 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…even if, at times, it can make someone who is very visceral crazy!! Now the spotlight had 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, but after decades and decades and decades…and yes, decades I can say marriage does require the ability to laugh—at yourself, at the situation and together. And I am STILL providing Mr Teacher Karen will opportunities to LAUGH! This most recent time was the result of my attire and our route along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were walking, taking note of the Trail of Time, and I was approached by a family inquiring how much further it was to Hopi Point for the shuttle back to the Visitors Center. (I happened to know because we were heading for lunch at the El Tovar Lodge…with classic lodge architecture and southwestern, rustic flair it’s a gorgeous place with delicious food!) Well, Mr Teacher Karen got wind of this and had a field day—deciding now I was Ranger Karen! So maybe I can see how that family got the wrong impression…but don’t let on to my husband!
But back to children and Mother Nature …
Have you heard of the Every Kid in a Park program? It’s a fabulous program to encourage children and families to get out, explore and learn in the public lands, waters and parks.
All families are busy, so get out your calendar, if you must, to schedule the time. Write it down and follow through because it’s important to #LeaveNoChildInside!
Now, seeing as how I AM Teacher Karen I have to 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, go on some amazing adventures and find a fitting home at last with a park ranger. If you’re kidlets love dogs they’ll enjoy this story!
Follow up with a song about another famous dog: Bingo! If you’re not familiar with the this song, you can hear me see 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!
Mr Teacher Karen and I did many hikes this summer. A lot of the time the trail was marked with cairns. Along the trails in Sedona they had something similar in that there were rock pilings noting the trail, but rather than having them stacked they were contained in wire cages-definitely wouldn’t have to worry about them being knocked down or blown over. But 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….