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Getting Your Kids Outdoors

Posted On: 17.06.06

Getting Your Kids Outdoors

According to Richard Louv, 2008 Audubon Medal Recipient and author of Last Child in the Woods, kids today are spending more time on electronic devices and becoming more and more removed from nature, at the expense of their own psychological and physical well being. Louv shares studies that show how spending time in nature has important health benefits -  among them improved concentration, a better ability to engage in creative play, an aid to help treat mental illness (in particular ADHD and depression) - the list goes on*. While it’s unclear how exactly the cognitive functioning and mood improvements occur, a large number of studies show that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors. Here are a few tips on getting those young ones to want to go outside from Danielle Cohen's article about getting kids back to nature**.

  • Set up treasure hunts. Make a short, simple list of things for your kids to look for outside—such as “a shiny object,” or “something you can hold liquid in.” The satisfaction of finding the objects turns it into a reinforcing activity, and it will keep them outside in search of the next list item.
  • Identify things. Get a book—with pictures—about birds, bugs, leaves, trees, or flowers in your local area, and go outside looking for specific creatures in the book to identify. Matching leaves to pictures and names has a reinforcing treasure hunt kind of appeal. The same goes for bird calls.
  • Give them the tools to discover. Gifts like a bug box, a magnifying glass, or a shovel will promote ways to explore the outdoors with a fun new tool that feels professional and empowering.
  • Start a collection. You can find small parts of nature like rocks or shells almost everywhere, and starting a collection adds appeal, giving a kid motivation to search and therefore spend time outdoors. Just make sure you’re not in a state park—most have rules that don’t let you bring anything home.
  • Use the technology to your advantage. If your kid is hooked on any and all electronic devices, have him bring along a camera or phone and create video or photo journals of various nature trips. He’ll still be near a piece of technology, but he’ll be using it to focus on the world around him.
  • Take a hike. Walking on a trail to a waterfall or breathtaking view also gives kids a sense of accomplishment, rewarding them for their physical efforts during the hike. This goes for bike rides, too. If there’s a swimming hole at the end, they’ll even be able to cool off. Just don’t forget to bring snacks and take short breaks to keep their energy up!
  • Make art projects. For the kids who would rather sit inside with some arts and crafts, get them to use objects from nature for their art. Picking flowers to press onto paper, using berry juice as paint, or collecting pinecones and rocks to decorate are ways to infuse nature into activities they already enjoy.
  • Build something. You can also reverse the process and make art with your kids that will support and nurture the natural world—things like bird feeders or flower boxes. Kids will keep coming back to watch an object they created provide for other living things.


*Excepts Taken From Laura Knight Re: Richard Louv

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**Excerpts Take From Danielle Cohen Article

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CottageClub has abundant family-friendly, nature inspired activities for you and your family. Activities that will make lasting memories for years to come! To find out more visit CottageClub Ghost Lake where you can swim, hike, camp out under the stars, fish and so much more .... or just enjoy nature at its best! 

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