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Getting Back to Nature: Finding Ways to Get Nature Back into Playtime

I don’t like bugs.

In fact, while my older sister encouraged her boys’ interest in insects and bought bug collecting kits, I did not. I steered my son away from insects and silently hoped he wouldn’t develop an appetite for bug hunting.

And to be honest, my aversion to insects sometimes impedes my enjoyment of the outdoors. There are a lot of bugs on a wilderness adventure!

But as long as I don’t have to be the one picking up the insects, (be proud of me though – on a preschool bug hunt, I picked up bugs with my bare hands for my troop!) I do try to spray on the natural bug repellent and get outdoors with my children.

Our family is fortunate to spend a week every year at summer camp and we get away a few times during the year to my family’s wilderness cabin where my kids have plenty of time to get down and dirty with nature.

And when we are at home, we have a wonderful green space behind our house that we play in every day with our dog. There are short trails through the brush where the kids climb through twigs and sticks and play “fort.”

But sometimes it can be a challenge to find quick, creative ways to get our kids out enjoying nature. We want to build an appreciation for the earth in our children and spending time exploring is often the best way!

As a working mother, I don’t have a lot of time for extensive preparation or day-long activities, so most days I have to work with what I have got – a dog, a small backyard and a green space.

We play in the dirt – I am not a big gardener, (remember I’m not fond of bugs,) but my two year old daughter loves to dig in the garden, fill and empty her water can, rake, etc, pretending to “garden.”

We picnic, play sports, and have lots of dog-play dates where neighbourhood dogs come and play with our dog.

We pick flowers and gather leaves. And we collect rocks – lots of rocks. (For some reason, kids love rocks!)

Recently I found a site called Nature Rocks that has a free summer activity guide and even an activity tool where you type in your time available, your location, (i.e. backyard, community or regional,) and the age of your children. It then offers you a list of creative ideas for you to get out into nature with your kids.

I am thrilled to have found Nature Rocks and I will be using it regularly to add some variation and creativity to our family’s playtime. And I bet as I do, I will get more comfortable with those bugs!

How do you incorporate nature exploration and appreciation into your children’s lives?

 

Photo by Janice Croze


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