Community News

Two great books for connecting kids with nature
12/8/2016 Volume XLIX, No. 48

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:

  • Create an animal treasure hunt to make the outdoors irresistible. Take some of your child’s favorite stuffed or toy animals and hide them in the yard and woods. After the toys are found, encourage your child to play with their animals in the outdoor environment.
  • Encourage budding builders. Children love making dens, nests, forts and hiding places. Build a survival “debris hut” of branches, leaves, pine needles and other materials found in the woods.  It’s good exercise, and the process of building involves problem solving and learning about natural materials.
  • Set up a terrarium in your house. Take an aquarium or fishbowl and fill it with soil, plants and rocks to create a mini-habitat suitable for land-based creatures. Allow your kids to bring frogs, salamanders and insects to visit. Just make sure you release each creature after a couple of days – in the same spot!
  • Create a “collection table” and encourage your child to display treasures like seashells, rocks, feathers and pinecones. To get even more creative, use these materials to make unique works of nature art.
  • Get your child a magnifying glass and a small compound microscope to introduce them to new perspectives. “Teach them to delight in the very small, from the cells of leaves enlarged by a microscope to the feathery antennae of a moth revealed by a hand lens,” suggested Rodenburg and Monkman.
  • Use technology. Electronic devices like smartphones can enhance outdoor enjoyment when used for activities like geocaching and nature photography.

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.

And for information on preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

POSTS

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

Take a walk on the bottom of the sea!

Energy efficiency saves money and land - and creates jobs!

The Pines of March

Trees are more social than you think!

New Jersey's geological 'layer cake'

Keeping the 'great' in Paterson's Great Falls

Some good news!

Take action to defend and protect land and water

Interested in ecology? Become a Rutgers Environmental Steward

2016 wins and losses for New Jersey's land and water

Kick off a healthy New Year with First Day hike

Energy infrastructure: the new sprawl

Two great books for connecting kids with nature

Why do some trees stay green while others lose their leaves?

Melting ice, rising seas, hotter planet

Our forests never sleep, even in winter!

Documentary brings Great Swamp battle back to life

Defending the land they loved

Four years after Sandy, rising sea levels predicted

New Jersey: Small state, big diversity

10 great natural areas for enjoying fall colors

Removing obsolete dams brings rivers back to life

Humpback whales a welcome sight off NJ coast

NJ wine industry boosts agritourism

For good health, bathe in a forest!

Let's NOT make a deal!

New Jersey's spectacular waterfalls

Urban trees boost health and land values

Blue Acres: A win-win for open space, owners of flooded homes

Get mosquitos to buzz off - naturally!

Flawed pipeline approval process needs reforms

Speak out for our Atlantic Ocean and coast!

Help Pokemon Go lead into outdoors and nature

NJ 4th in peaches; don't miss out on peach season!

Water, water everywhere - keep it safe to drink!

Growing beer in the Garden State

Celebrate NJ's Revolutionary War parks and open spaces on July 4

Override Governor's veto of open space bill

Taming the wild blueberry 100 years ago

Celebrate and take action during National Pollinator Week

Get on the Circuit for National Trails Day

New tax deduction would give boost to NJ non-profits

ARCHIVE

April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS