Get Out! For A Free Book Giveaway!

Nature is awesome, and a connection with nature is crucial for healthy child development, but children today aren’t getting outside. Here’s what’s going on:

*  Kids in 2010 spend an average of seven and a half hours a day staring at their electronic screens (Ten and a half if you take multitasking into account.)
*  Fewer than 1 in 5 children walk or ride a bike to school (compared to 40 percent of children in 1969)
*  Eighty percent of children under age 2 and more than 60 percent of children ages 2 to 5 lack daily access to outdoor play
*  The number of children who participated in outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, and fishing dropped by 50 percent between 1997 and 2003

As a result,
* Childhood obesity has increased from around 4 percent in the 1960s to about 20% today, and
* Children aged 8 – 11 in Britain can identify Pokemon characters twice as readily as real, living things, such as oak trees, sparrows, and otters.

Why aren’t more kids getting out? As an advisor to a couple of parenting sites, I’ve received several questions on the lines of, “I have two boys, ages 6 and 8, who want to spend all their time on the couch, watching TV or playing video games. When I tell them to go outside and play, they come back 5 minutes later, telling me they’re bored, they don’t know what to do, and there are no other kids out there.”

Seeing a challenge, and being a passionate believer in the importance of outdoor experiences for kids, I decided to write a book: Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future (Free Spirit, 2009). That’s right, 150 different ideas for getting all of us out into nature. Most of them are really very simple. For example:

*  Find squirrel highways. Watch the squirrels in your yard or at a park for a while and see if you can identify their favorite routes – or “squirrel highways.”
*  Turn a walk into a safari. Take a closer look at birds, bugs, shrubs and trees when you pass. Bring a magnifying glass to really zoom in.
*  Create your own treasure hunt. Kids will be more engaged if you include several weird or gross items on your list, such as a dead bug, a bird feather, a worm, a leaf bigger than your hand, a cup of mud.
*  Have a daily “green hour.” Ten or fifteen minutes is fine; it doesn’t have to be an hour. But set time aside to get out every day. Even when it’s wet outside, you can still get out and play together as long as you’re dressed for the weather.

My book has 150 tips, but even with all these ideas, it’s only scratching the surface, like a garden trowel scraping a handful of soil from the earth. I know you can come up with lots more tips, so Care2 is giving away five copies of Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future to the five best ideas for getting out into nature.

Submit your ideas here for our free BOOK GIVEAWAY!

ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:

TAKE ACTION


HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?

 

THINGS TO PONDER


THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Creative Commons - Michel Filion
Judy Molland

114 comments

William C
William C3 months ago

Thanks.

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W. C
W. C3 months ago

Thank you.

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Amanda Cox
Amanda Cox8 years ago

My kids and I rent books from the library on wildfllower identification and then make a trip out to find and label as many varieties as we can. After wildflowers, we will be doing bird identification.

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johan l.
paul l8 years ago

I am pleased to note that there is a nill percentage of voters that feel that kids should not spend more time outside!
This is really a shocking state of affairs.
Parents must, repeat must make sure their kids get out more and even reward this with an hour or so of Tv time.
Please parents you do not want your kids to grow up as couch potatoes. What happens when they are grown-ups?

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Arleen B.
Arleen B8 years ago

Start when kids are young teaching them it is fun to go outside! Walks and playing outside can lead to many learning experiences about bugs, plants, weather and more.

Say "It's time for the tv to be off. Let's go play in the sandbox." Imagination can go wild there--build mountains and hills, roads, talk about the way the earth is different in different countries and different states. (If you record their favorite tv shows for viewing later, like before bedtime or while you are making dinner they will not feel like they are missing out on something.)

Collect shells, nuts, pretty stones, etc from you outings and make a centerpiece for the table (kitchen or picnic) or a knick-knack for their room, with or without animals made from the collected items, decorate a wooden box from the craft store to use for their other "treasures."

Take along binoculars and a magnifying glass to see close-ups of birds, bugs, plants. And don't forget the camera so they have some solid reminders and they can explain to others all about what they saw.

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Jazmin Hope
Jazmin Hope8 years ago

Plant a butterfly garden. Find out what trees, flowers and shrubs attract wildlife in your area. Do the research together. Let the kids choose what they want to plant and let them help care for it. If you see a bird while they are at school tell them. Interrupt their favorite show and have them come see that the animals love their plant. If the raccoons are eating the berries at night wake them up to see. Discuss solutions. Maybe another bush. teach them to be stewards of nature. Our yard is has wind chimes, bird feeders, sun catchers, a hammock and a tire swing and a good climbing tree. Make the yard a place that you want to be. It is a place we choose to spend time. Our favorite place to eat is outside. Have a picnic dinner.

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Jazmin Hope
Jazmin Hope8 years ago

Little kids love to jump in puddles. So let them. They aren't allowed when you are going somewhere, why not when you arent.So long as it is not an electrical storm, sailing leaf boats in the gutter jumping in puddles and sitting in them is a good deal of fun. When my girls were 2 and 4 I would give them umbrellas (a rare treat when young) they would donn their galoshes and go out for a day of mud and water. I would have warm bath waiting when they came in. they are now 9 and 11 and still like playing in the rain.

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Gina Stewart
Gina Stewart8 years ago

we used to hunt for four leaf clover for hours and tell stories of what we would do when we grew up or won a lot of money w/our 'lucky' clover. Bring their imagination to life, build sand castles in a sand box, climb a tree and see how far you can see - name something that is the farthest away, count the houses in the neighborhood as they walk around the block, then decide how many people live in each house the next time around and figure out how many people live in your neighborhood in those houses. There are all sorts of things to do outside and parents should be out there with their kids, making sure they are remaining safe.

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Diah Lestari
Diah Lestari8 years ago

I am an Art teacher for Primary and Secondary. And these activities are connected with Art/craft.
1. I can ask the students to draw some flowers or leaves even trees, right in front of the object. They can also draw some bugs or taking pictures/photos of it.
2. Collaborate with science, we can ask the students to look for some caterpillars at the nature in school area and observe it day by day when it becomes pupa and later turns into butterfly.
3. We can explore the nature, searching for insects in the field at the back of our school. They would love to find some grasshoppers, spiders, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybug (even the golden type) and caterpillars as well. What else can we found there? Add some other creatures on the list, like tadpole and frogs in the small pond, and the list is getting even longer.
4. For smaller children, I can ask the students to get certain type of leaves, pick it up (oh... yeah... I'm sorry to do this as well), and we will make leaf printing using poster color.

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Diah Lestari
Diah Lestari8 years ago

I am an Art teacher for Primary and Secondary. And these activities are connected with Art/craft.
1. I can ask the students to draw some flowers or leaves even trees, right in front of the object. They can also draw some bugs or taking pictures/photos of it.
2. Collaborate with science, we can ask the students to look for some caterpillars at the nature in school area and observe it day by day when it becomes pupa and later turns into butterfly.
3. We can explore the nature, searching for insects in the field at the back of our school. They would love to find some grasshoppers, spiders, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybug (even the golden type) and caterpillars as well. What else can we found there? Add some other creatures on the list, like tadpole and frogs in the small pond, and the list is getting even longer.
4. For smaller children, I can ask the students to get certain type of leaves, pick it up (oh... yeah... I'm sorry to do this as well), and we will make leaf printing using poster color.

SEND