Did you know? Children who play outside are more creative, have lower stress levels and more active imaginations. They also become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems, and have greater respect for themselves and others as well as the environment.
With all of the new technologies and overscheduling of today’s world, it’s easy to forget just how close—and how important— your local forest or green space really is for your kids! There are many developmental benefits for children who spend time in nature, and it’s closer than you think.
It is easy to get caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of crazy schedules, work, school, and technology. But it is so important to take hold of those small moments and enjoy what nature has given us, especially with your children. Technology may be a great learning tool, but so is nature. You can google the sound of birds, what kind of fish are in local waters, and what kinds of flowers grow in certain habitats. But nothing can replace hearing those birds in person, catching that first fish, or taking a deep breath and smelling those flowers.
Spending time in nature can spark the imagination of kids of all ages. Even then, after aimlessly wandering into hectic schedules, technology overload, and the never ending busy world around us, adults, like ourselves might find a spark of creativity in exploring the outdoors.
Saturday, September 26th, is National Public Lands Day! This is a day to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to enjoy your local #Naturehood. What is #Naturehood, you ask? It is the forest that is right in your neighborhood, and you may not even know it. Beyond the swings, slides and clearings, there are trails, trees, wildlife and water just waiting for you. There’s an amazing #Naturehood in my area – trailheads at the end of my suburban block lead into an arroyo that feels far from civilization. But it’s right there!
The forest and the outdoors are a place for adventure, learning, fun, and discovery! You can even incorporate it into homeschool lessons, or just a fun weekend science lesson. The forest provides many benefits, like freshwater, shade and fresh air. There are so many possibilities. It might be tough deciding where to begin. Check out these games and activities, which can help get you going.
- Forest Snapshot Game – Get behind the lens and take photos of your favorite forest friends in their natural settings.
- Biodiversity Bingo – How many different kinds of plants and animals live in your neighborhood? Find out by trying this PBS KIDS Plum Landing scavenger hunt!
- Forest In the City – Can there be a forest hiding inside the city? Watch this PBS KIDS Plum Landing video with Ranger Jesse and find out!
- Sound Safari – What kinds of sounds do you hear around your neighborhood? Try this PBS KIDS Plum Landing Sound Safari activity to find out!
- Use A Compass – Finding your way with a compass is easier than you think. Learn an important skill for navigating the forest.
- Leaf Rubbings – Leaf rubbings are a cool way to document your forest discoveries. See what they’re all about, then get outdoors and make your own.
Visit the Discovertheforest.org “What to Do” page for a full list of fun activity ideas to get you started on your outdoor adventure!
I will be joining the Twitter chat tomorrow! Join me and get the word out! Join @Cheecker for a fun Twitter Party celebrating National Public Lands Day with the US Forest Service at 1pm ET on September 25th. Follow #ForestChat to join the conversation.