“Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.” – David Polis
Everyone, not just kids, should have a daily “green hour” scheduled into their day. We all have busy lives filled with obligations but it’s worth it to yourself and your kids to appreciate nature in some way at least once a day. At least start out with a bi-weekly “green hour” or try 15 minutes of outdoor playtime per day, everyday! The key here is to put nature on the calendar so that spending time together, outdoors, becomes a habit instead of a rare occasion.
The National Wildlife Federation recommends parents set aside an hour every day to play outside and interact with the natural world. This time should be unstructured (self-guided) and fun! If kids are reluctant or want to play their video games instead, show them how fun it is by joining the activity. Collect natural artifacts to share, or listen and identify all the sounds you hear outside! Get to know local trees and animals so you can test each other. There is so much fun to be had outdoors if you just get out there and start playing!
Even on a rainy day, you can still get out and play together as long as you’re dressed for the weather. As E.E. Cummings wrote, the world is “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” Being prepared to go outdoors is always a good idea! Check out GreenHour.org for more suggestions and tips. In 2007, the National Wildlife Federation launched GreenHour.org, an online resource providing parents the inspiration and tools to make the outdoors a part of daily life. There are many ideas to inspire all ages! Explore with Mo today: click here to print out MO! Then color in, cut out, and take photos of Mo outdoors to share on our Facebook Page!
Scheduling your green hour with another family can also help you time manage. Arrange a regular “Outdoor Date” with one or two other families with kids around the same age. Depending on weather, and the ages and interests of your participants, this could be as simple as meeting at the playground every week or month, or something heartier, like a series of hikes or an ongoing flag football game. Do the same thing every meeting or let a different participant choose each meetings activity. Or just let the kids play with no plan! The important thing is that once it’s on the calendar, and others are depending on you, you’re less likely to make excuses and skip it. Make it a family affair by inviting grandparents, cousins, and other family members to join in. Nature is a great place to connect with family and enjoy each others time.