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Summer is done, the school shopping is completed, the leaves are changing colors, the birds are starting their journey to migrate south, and gone are the days of sitting by the fire listening to the crickets in the evenings.
However, nature and the outdoors do not have to disappear entirely! Children and nature go together— or should (with 90% of youth failing to meet the daily requirements of Canada’s Physical Activity Guide). Scary, I know! Recent studies document the importance of introducing children to the natural world, beginning in the early years. Their social, emotional, and physical health depends on this exposure to develop. So, let’s take a step back and let nature motivate the future generation!
There’s no better place to stimulate nature curiosity than in school (where children spend most of their day). With the help of adults, children can learn about being gentle and respecting other living things. Nature also provides other benefits such as:
There are multiple ways to bring nature into your classroom (or bring your classroom out in nature). Here is a list of ideas to get you started!
All of these ideas assist children in developing a connection to the environment, through hands on experiences and questioning. These are but a handful of ideas - go outside, smell the fresh air and let nature inspire you!
As Debbie Handler and Ann S. Epstein have stated in The Extensions Curriculum Newsletter;
“Everything around us is connected to nature. Most of our food originates in nature — growing from the soil, swimming in the sea, flying through the air, or walking on the earth’s surface. Fiber from plants and the skins and other parts of animals provide materials for our clothing. Nature inspires, refreshes, and nurtures us. When experiences with nature are embedded in the preschool curriculum and daily routine, children benefit physically, emotionally, and intellectually as they have new experiences, exercise their bodies, and enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes from being connected to the natural world”.