It’s a great time for outdoor activities with kids, so I wanted to give a quick recommendation for a great blog on kids’ activities crafting with younger children: GreenMamma.org.
If you follow my commenters at all you may have noticed that Jessica, the Green Mamma herself, has been a regular here at hdb since early on. Jessica is a great writer with a firm dedication toward ethics that of course I respect deeply as an ethical mama myself. Some of her articles have also been published on API Speaks.
Recently, she’s been chronicling her outdoor exploits with her daughter Annabelle — from walks to gardening to interactions with nature. I believe Annabelle is about 4 years old (Jessica?) and a great age for all sorts of creativity. Jessica’s blog is packed with lots of gorgeous photos and, as I mentioned, plentiful ideas for kids’ crafts!
Crafts for Indoor and Out
Here are a some of her outdoor activities posts I’ve noted with admiration lately:
And some older posts with adorable indoor craft projects:
Giving Children an Education via Outdoor Activities
One of the reasons I wanted to give a shout out to Green Mamma is that I truly wish I had the opportunity to give my first son, now 13, more of the kind of outdoor education and love of nature that Jessica is giving Annabelle.
We moved to New York when he was only two, and though we certainly were able to give him plenty of stimulation via memberships to the science museum and the array of local zoo’s (three!) via our Wildlife Conservation Society membership, I never truly embraced the outdoors enough to give him the opportunity to explore and adventure in the way that I fondly remember from my own youth.
Now that Baby D is actually “Toddler D”, he’s already asserting his love of the outdoors, as documented in my last video post on Baby D’s toddler exploits. Hopefully with the support of my mom, the master gardener, my dad, who proclaims that work outdoors is a form of therapy, and my hubby, ever on the move, I’ll be more apt to continue to take the initiative to get out and about with D!
When I was younger, and even now, simple walks in the woods provided plenty of awe at nature’s wonders, sometimes with a guidebook to flowers and plants, but sometimes just with my mother’s knowledge. Occasionally now, too, I read stories of those whose childhood neighborhood play involved such creative endeavors as mudpies and childrens’ gardens. It seems so vital that this shared legacy of play is not lost.
Perhaps that’s why the following books have found themselves on my Amazon and Paperback Swap wish lists, ready to inspire me to creativity. I’m curious to get a peek into the current and past ideas others have had for getting kids off the screen, out of the house, and into the ultimate interactive environment!
I Love Dirt! (aff)
I think what drew me to this book originally was my reading of the recent New York Times article “Babies Know: A Little Dirt Is Good for You,” about the value of dirt in developing a child’s immune system. Given our family attitude toward vaccinations, we are, of course, always thirsty for information on developing a strong immune system naturally!
The Times article quotes Mary Ruebush, PhD:
“What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, Why Dirt Is Good (aff). “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”
I’ve actually had one woman respond here on hdb to my articles on cold and flu treatment with suggestions on an educational program that teaches kids “germ management” via handwashing, etc. Though I never looked into the program, I do wonder what Dr. Ruebush, an immunologist would have to say about that!
Last Child in the Woods (aff)
This book is pretty ubiquitous and I seem to stumble upon mentions of it all over the place. I took a look again at the Amazon entry and found a rather shocking story in a review that makes a great contrast to the new scientific information on the value of dirt:
My “wake up call” came when my friend from the city brought her toddler to my home and the little girl cried in terror when her mother tried to get her to put her bare feet on the lawn, a lawn that was free of anything dangerous. We don’t have a dog so there weren’t even any “droppings” to worry about.
A baby who was scared to touch ground? Her mother admitted that her offspring had never felt grass because her mother feared it might be too full of “germs”. I urged her to at least let her daughter smell a handful of freshly picked clover but she looked at me as though I were crazy…
Most of all, this book might help both parents and children realize that nature can be as mysterious, powerful and awesome as any video game or television show (I’d say even MORE so). If our children, our future generations, are going to learn to care about the environment and preserving the wonders that are out there, it is up to parents, teachers and other role models in their lives to foster that appreciation…and, hopefully, that passion…early on. (K. Corn, Top 50 Reviewer on Amazon)
Richard Louv, author of Last Child In the Woods, (aff) won the Audubon Medal award from the National Audubon Society as well as the Paul K. Petzoldt Award from the Wilderness Education Association.
According to the Audubon Society:
Louv lists the human costs of alienation from nature as including attention disorders, depression and obesity. He reveals that environmental education and direct experiences in nature have dramatic positive effects on the physical and emotional health of children, significantly improving test scores and grade point averages, and boosting skills in problem solving, critical thinking and decision making.
Speaking of societies and associations…
Non-Profit Nature-Based Curriculum for Kids
Nature Explore Club, National Arbor Day Foundation
My mother is a member of the National Arbor Day Foundation, and she actually subscribed to a great little outdoor curriculum for us for awhile. Remember that period I mentioned when I didn’t do enough to get my eldest involved in the outdoors? Mmm, hmmm. Well, I’ve saved up all these envelopes that were sent to us monthly or so that detail little nature hunt adventures and whatnot. I think they’ll be particularly fabulous if we do find ourselves homeschooling later on with D!
Wilderness Steward Program and Wilderness Education Workshops, Wilderness Education Association
These on-site courses are geared toward older kids and adults. If you have an older child, perhaps you can so inspire them! Mine seems to be more interested in Warcraft Game Modding at the moment!
Well, well! My brief mention of Green Mamma seems to have turned into a rather thorough take on nature education and outdoor activities! If you have a young child that loves crafts and gardening like Jessica’s Annabelle, definitely consider subscribing to Green Mamma for ongoing inspiration. But no matter the age, hopefully you’ll find something to inspire you and your child in the spring and summer that awaits us!