Kids want and need to be active. After a full summer of running, jumping, swimming, and climbing, often outdoors, they’re returning to school, where they’ll spend a lot of time indoors, sitting down and looking at screens. Their memories of the outdoor adventures they had with bugs, slugs, birds, and mammals will outlast any experiences they have with a screen.
There’s a growing body of research on the benefits of nature-based play for children’s development. Playing in natural environments is essential to the development of numerous core skills, including observation, problem-solving, creativity/imagination, concentration, and risk-identification. Greening school grounds increases physical activity (obesity is 27-41% lower among 10-12-year-olds who spend more time outdoors). Students who experience nature as part of their educational process are more engaged and enthusiastic in all areas of study, scoring higher on tests in reading, writing, and math and demonstrating better listening skills.
Time in nature also reduces ADD/ADHD symptoms: they’re milder with regular play in green settings than they are in built outdoor or indoor settings, with the ‘mental calming’ gained in as little as 20 minutes.
Pathway to Stewardship & Kinship is a local organization run by 3 of Peterborough’s best outdoor educators. They interviewed 80 adults – many from Peterborough – who care about nature and the environment to identify what factors and experiences influenced them when they were young. They used the results to develop a series of age-appropriate activities for children to keep them active and foster a lifelong love of nature. Check them out at http://pathwayproject.ca/landmarks/.
We carry a wide variety of games and activities that can help your (grand)children burn off some of their pent-up energy in healthy ways. Puzzles, a birding game, a soapstone carving kit, and knowledge cards are great learning alternatives to screen-based activities. Little kids’ hats, a bug collecting kit, a bucket and some tools are perfect for getting them outside.