Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Childhood Play

When I was little there was a pond, I called it the "Pollywog Pond", near my home. In fact, it was right down at the end of the street in an open field. Every spring, the shallow depression would fill with water, and "miraculously" tiny tadpoles would hatch and fill the small pond. It really stank, but that didn't seem to faze me at all. I was so amazed by these tiny little things swimming all over. I would always collect some and bring them home to raise. It was fascinating to watch their tails shorten, see them begin to grow legs, and soon turn into tiny little frogs. I loved that pond. I spent countless hours down there, playing in the water, watching the little tadpoles, playing in the smelly mud. Then, sadly, as happens to most natural places kids play, it soon disappeared under the wheels of bulldozers and houses sprung up in the place of the pond. I wondered what would happen to all those tadpoles. They were gone forever. And the people living right where they used to be had no idea of the incredible treasure they were living above.

There is a quote I recently read in a book talking about the loss of connection between children and nature. It rings true for me: "Direct contact to nature is essential for physical and emotional health." (Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv)

Kids need time and opportunities for unstructured play. Where they can use their imaginations. Make discoveries. Day-dream. Create. Explore. Wonder.

Here's a list of things I came up with to help remedy what's being called "Nature-Deficit Disorder":

A Naturalist's Remedy to Nature-Deficit Disorder!

Follow a stream * Walk a dog * Swing in the park *

Follow an animal trail * Splash in a puddle of water *

Sing in the rain * Gaze up at the stars *

Rake leaves and jump in them * Go fishing * Go hiking *

Try snowshoeing * Go camping * Climb a tree *

Make a leaf print * Find a pet rock *

Watch a bug crawl through the grass * Take a nature picture *

Start a nature journal * Find a quiet place *

Draw a picture of a tree, flower, rock, or mountain *

Listen to a bird sing * Learn a bird song and sing back *

Build a fort * Make a bird feeder * Identify animal scat *

Build a snowman * Stop and smell a flower *

Go swimming in a lake * Make a snow angel *

Have a snowball fight * Look for bugs *

Be still and LISTEN * Play tag *

Cook s'mores over a campfire * Go geocaching *

Drive through the canyon and look at fall leaves *

Wonder through the woods * Take a walk with a small child *

Visit a park * Go on a bike ride *

Skip rocks on a pond* Listen to a babbling brook *

Visit a nature center * Raise a frog


Marlo said...

love the list. thanks

Bevson said...

Ditto. I've done most of them...but that skipping rock thing. I rot at it. Maybe you need a brother not a sister.