Activities, Crafts, and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors
Possibly the most common phrase children heard their parents utter in the 1960s and 70s was, "Go outside and play!" In backyards and playgrounds near and far, children were expected to occupy themselves after school and on weekends until dusk would fall on their safe and secure little worlds.
In this world there were no Nintendo's, Game Boxes or Wii with which to while away the hours, we climbed trees, tormented snakes and poked sticks at anthills. In the late afternoon we often lay on the hill in front of our home just to watch the clouds and call out the shapes we found high above - like a giant mural painted for us alone. If we were lucky mom would join us.
In Nature's Playground: Activities, Crafts, and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield have captured this world of simplicity and creativity. Upon first inspection of Nature's Playground I was impressed with the binding, this paperback dons a cover that is made to stand up under repeated use, with a front and back fold that can be used as a quick bookmark. The pages themselves are equally sturdy.
Fun At Any Time of Year
The author's claim, "this book is all about getting outside to enjoy wild places at any time of year, at any time of day, and in any kind of weather." They weren't lying. Nature's Playground takes us - and more importantly our children - through the seasons of the year, providing creative and inspiring outdoor activities; activities that most of us had long forgotten.
Whether you're exploring the beach or learning to paint with all that nature has to offer, playing hide-n-seek or tracking your favorite animal, this book will both delight and amaze your children.
Loads of Leaves
Reading Loads of Leaves brought back so many memories of fall days spent raking leaves in our huge front yard in Michigan. We would end up with mountains of leaves that were just too irresistible; we simply had to jump in them!
I find it interesting that my sisters and I would always resist when it was time to rake the leaves. None of us really enjoyed the activity at the time, yet as we've grown older, raking leaves has a calming effect on me and brings back memories of my own childhood, working together with my family.
The book recommends:
- Encourage the children to look for just two leaves that they particularly like.
- Encourage the children to examine each detail of each leaf and talk about their differences and similarities.
- Rake and carry leaves to make a big pile. When the pile is ready, let the children rush into it and then hurl armfuls of leaves at each other.
- Take turns burying each child in the leaf pile.
Who can resist playing in a huge pile of leaves? We always found a couple of "special" or "perfect" leaves that we would save and sometimes even press between two sheets of waxed paper to preserve them.
With so much to see and do outside it's a shame that so many children are stuck indoors, so much of the time. The author's realize that safety is a major concern for parents and have provided safety-tips throughout the book for each activity.
This book brought back a flood of memories for me and at the same time made me feel sad for my own child. It's the lucky child indeed that is allowed time alone in the great outdoors, left alone to contemplate his own life on this earth and reflect on the events of the day. As a youth growing up in a small town, I spent untold hours roaming the creeks and woods surrounding our community. It was time I had to think in solitude, to listen to the sound of the flowing water and hear the song of a nearby bird calling to his mate.
Though I certainly didn't realize it then, it was a magical time for me. The lazy days of summer soaked into my soul and even today I long to get alone and contemplate the meaning of life and capture the fleeting sights and sounds as nature comes alive, when we take the time to stop and listen.
It breaks my heart that children don't often get to experience nature, in a very real and personal way. Nature's Playground offers so many opportunities to open up this world to our children and allow them the same chance to develop an inner peace that can only come with getting alone with one's self.
This incredible book walks you through:
- Encouraging Children to Walk
- Making the Most of Spring
- Making and shooting your own Bow and Arrows
- Making a Bird's Nest
- Playing Camouflage Games
- Making Perfumed Potions with flowers
- Creating Sand Structures
- Exploring your Senses
- Scavenger Hunts
- Building Boats at Home
I highly recommend this book for any family with children who are bored or inactive and in need of encouragement and creative ideas on how to play in Nature's Playground.
About the Book:
Introducing children to the excitement of the natural world, this guide to outdoor adventure provides hours of creative, safe, and fun activities. Children will learn how to build a den from branches, make twig boats to sail across a pond, and voyage through the backyard to find tiny insects and creatures. Activities include invigorating games, natural crafts, and lively adventures, all of which are organized by season. An additional chapter also addresses safe activities for children after dark. Perfect for families, caretakers, and educators, this creative resource encourages children to turn off the television and play outside all year round.
About the Authors:
Fiona Danks is an environmental educator with a passion for leading field trips and running countryside playgroups.
Jo Schofield has spent many years as a commercial magazine photographer. They both reside in the United Kingdom.