[This is the first of a series of photo posts about food, farms and forests! Next, I will share photos of gardening with with a child (and scissors!). The last week, I will share photos from strawberry picking, a valuable experience for children. Hope you enjoy seeing some more of our outdoor fun and having lots of your own fun with your family!]
I recently read this article on soil and this one on forests and how they can boost human health and wellbeing.
I didn’t need another reason to get out into nature. I also didn’t need scientists to tell me that I feel better when I’m in natural settings (even though it’s cool to think about possibilities why).
A Living Family community seemed the perfect venue for getting my family and others outside in nature (as wild as we can get it!). Part of it is being in direct connection with the earth, but another piece is for the adults to take a step back and let the children build their own relationships, with creatures and landscapes they find and with each other.
We have had three Nature Play dates so far, with a fourth interaction happening spontaneously at a lake’s edge. We have gone to Ridley Creek State Park, Briar Bush Nature Center and Peace Valley Nature Center (after strawberry picking!).
I like the idea of going back to one place regularly to create a strong connection and build confidence as well as mastery. Other places enrich and engage children in diverse ways.
My hope is to take it to the next level, at least once in a whileh: all day outside in the woods.
I listened to an mp3 of Laurie A. Couture’s interview from the Unschooling Summit. She spoke about experiences of all day play dates. This is how the children built bonds and secured attachment to other caring children and adults. That is what I hope to do.
I see now that even a 4 or 5 hour experience feels too short to get that feeling of living together.
Luckily I have a supportive partner who came up with the idea based on his own experience of being outside (at the beach) all day with his friends. He calls those friends his brothers, and I believe they mean that.
I would love for my children to have other adults and children with whom they live their lives, grow, have all kinds of adventures and experiences.
An all day nature play date would allow children and families to spend time living together, for a time, in the simplicity of the natural world.
We would have to figure out nap times with some sort of tent or blanket set up. There may be dropped naps. Even so, it’s definitely worth a try.
I think the photos below will show the richness of our time simply being out in nature. They can perhaps convey some of the real skill building and learning and growing that children (and adults!) are doing. I hope they aptly show the intensity of focus, the seriousness of challenge, and the joy of discovery.
Remember: Children at play are working.
RESOURCES: Nature Play and Outdoor Play
- Outdoor Preschool – Norway
- Forest Schools Early Years
- Nature Deficit Disorder Presentation
- Living and Learning: 50 Outdoor Activities Your Children Will Love
- Awareness-Nature Literacy – Remedy for Institutionalized Minds
- Forest Tots: Ummmm…Wow!
- I Spy: Math, Science, and Nature Edition
- Precious Childhood: Loose Parts – Nature Indoors and Outdoors
- 5 Tips for Nature Study
- Hybrid Rasta Mama: Creating With Children – The Nature/Seasonal Table
- Sun Hats & Wellie Boots: Harvest Sensory Play: Cooking with Nature
- How to Get High on Soil
- Forest Bathing