Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Teaching Kids to Explore & Appreciate Nature

Raising children in town is so much different than raising them on a farm. Growing up on a farm we spent every daylight hour outdoors. My children were raised in town but we still spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors whether it be in our local parks, trails or at the farm. I did not want my kids sitting inside the house like lumps on a log. I wanted them to appreciate the environment and find the wonders that nature has to offer. So I intentionally ensured that they had these experiences. Sadly, it isn't safe to send your kids out exploring on their own anymore at least in town. So parents have to make an effort to provide these opportunities to their children. Even if you weren't raised experiencing nature you owe your children & grandchildren this opportunity. Plus exploring makes you feel like a kid again.

My oldest granddaughter and I spent two days at the farm so I took this opportunity to teach her how to explore and to really look at things and find beauty in the water, trees, rocks, birds, butterflies ..... I want her to grow up being awed by our beautiful environment. We spent most of our time exploring the creek where my siblings and our children spent immense amounts of time.

She walked right by this huge tree with it's roots exposed by erosion but yet the roots were growing into the water keeping it alive. She didn't even notice it until I pointed it out. She then saw an opportunity to climb down and explore.

We looked for animal tracks - she identified deer and raccoon. We even studied animal droppings (which sounds gross) but we did. Studying tracks and animal droppings teaches awareness of your surroundings which is critical in knowing potential dangers whether in the woods or on the city streets. We saw snake holes along the creek and nearby a large coyote den. We also explored the different rocks which she chose two to take home, a fossilized sandstone rock and a quartz.

There were hundreds of white butterflies flitting around the pasture and close to the creek so we were determined to get a picture of one. Which by the way is no easy task. 

 We had such a great time and we plan to continue our expeditions on a regular basis.

Authored by +Terri Henkels

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