The benefits of spending time in and with nature are well documented, whether that is growing up in green environments or indulging in genuine ‘wild play’ such as climbing trees or splashing about in puddles. Now is the time to make sure children not only reap the health and well-being benefits of being in the natural world but also develop that all-important love for it.
What the research says
The environment can influence young people’s development through the quality of place in which they live, whilst also providing opportunities for activities, approaches and learning that can engage and support even the most disaffected young people.
Improving Young People's Lives: The role of the environment in building resilience, responsibility & employment chances.
What the children say
"I wish there would be more plants and colourful flowers outside the school area" - Jamie, age 10
"Too many people like to take advantage of, and disturb nature, for instance, standing on a bee, or cutting down a tree is just another way of slowly killing yourself and everyone around you" - Breanna, age 11
Start them thinking
Would you rather have a bedroom window that looked out over a forest than a theme park?
Is 'Climb a tree' a suitable task to be given as homework?
Should children be made to spend an hour a week outside, even in bad weather?
Are lions more important than worms?
Can a tree change how you feel?
Despite the well-documented benefits of spending time in natural environments, children are spending less and less time outdoors with one report finding that 10% of children have not been to a natural environment in the past 12 months. A love of nature is not only good for children's well being, it is essential when it comes to saving our planet too. But the clock is ticking...
Plan a week's worth of lessons outside the classroom (regardless of the weather).
Create a nature table.
Have a Fabulous Pets competition.
Design a natural free play area for part of your school grounds.
Take a school trip - with parents - to a natural environment.
What we say
What You've Been Up To So Far:
The 'Nature' focus was a really popular one at our nursery. We spend a lot of time outdoors anyway, but tried to think of new things to do that would promote the wellbeing of our children and staff especially.
We learned about bees from a picture book, tasted honey made by bees feeding on different kinds of flowers. We planted flowers and seeds to attract bees to our garden, and directed families to the Great British Bee Count app and project.
We incubated some eggs and cared for the chicks
Two birds nests were found in our nursery garden. We shared photos and videos of the babies being fed by the adult birds with the children and parents.
We made an obstacle course in our orchard area incorporating natural obstacles such as logs and tree branches
We took a listening walk in a nearby field to develop sound discrimination in a natural way
Children brought in natural objects such as sticks and stones for a show and tell session
We used the story 'Stickman' to promote outdoor storytelling/small world play and nature crafts
We set some mathematical challenges outdoors, particularly sorting and counting natural objects such as stones and pine cones
We watched some frogspawn hatch into tadpoles. We observed their legs appearing and tails shrinking. When the first froglet appeared we took a trip to a local pond to set them free!
So-a busy month! Keeping active is proving a good theme for us too!