It's summer vacation, and one thing parents often hear from children used to being stimulated by school all year is, "I'm bored!". Personally, I am never bored, so I have little compassion when I hear my daughter issue this utterance, but I have found a new book that I think will help her overcome the doldrums. Let's Go Outside!: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature is a great resource for bored children.
Just as I have little understanding of boredom, I also never find myself needing an activity while experiencing nature beyond hiking and observing; however, children are a different breed. They sometimes need help focusing their energy. Author Jennifer Ward provides 52 outdoor activities. From "Playground for Poets" to "Five Fine Forts", the summer boredom crisis is solved (and these activities are limited to warm summer months). Furthermore, these games and projects are designed for children ages 8-12. Here's an example:
Scavengers 'r' us:
Get your hunt on! This activity is a variation of the traditional scavenger hunt with a focus on nature. Get your kids outdoors to seek and explore. This type of scavenger hunt is the perfect way to get your kids connected with the natural world.
- Find something a bird would use in a nest.
- Find something a squirrel might like for lunch.
- Find a rough rock.
- Find a smooth pebble.
- Find a leaf with a pointy tip. (Caution children to avoid plants with three tips on their leaves, as they could be poison ivy.)
- Find something yellow that grows in nature.
Find something smaller than your thumbnail...
One thing I like about the excerpt of the scavenger hunt list is they way it makes children think. Children have to contemplate what would a bird use for a nest or a squirrel might want for lunch, rather than simply saying find an acorn. In addition, when children bring their treasures home, you can ask them to explain their choices, as well as return them to their original location.
Let's Go Outside! has a lot of great ideas to help children have fun and connect with nature!