Skipping stones, building forts, catching bugs, and reading under the shade of an old tree. What do these things have in common? They are all best done outside. I hope they are also things you remember doing as a child. What will your children or grandchildren’s childhood play memories be; iPads, Netflix, or Xbox?
Now that school is out, it won’t be long before kids become bored and you get tired of seeing them sitting on the couch. Give them the challenge to spend at least 30 minutes outside every day for 30 days. We all complain about how busy and scheduled our lives have become, take a month to unplug and bring back backyard play.
Encouraging kids to “do” is more powerful than “don’t”. Instead of limiting screen time, try a rule that emphasizes outdoor time. Reduce the rules outside. Let them climb, run, and make a mess, nature should be a “hands-on” experience.
You are their most important role model. Let them see you be curious, get your hands dirty, draw with sidewalk chalk, or splash in a puddle. Turn off your phone and show kids you prefer the natural world to the virtual one.
To help you with your pledge is Nature Play Days Week, June 10-18, sponsored by the Indiana Children and Nature Network. Across Indiana over 100 events will be offered free of charge at nature centers, museums, libraries, and parks. The goal is to help kids discover opportunities to play in the great outdoors. Over half of the events are being offered here in Delaware County.
Yes, that’s right, Delaware County is leading the state in a wonderful way:promoting outdoor nature play. Organized by the early childhood development initiative, By5, the Nature Play Coalition of Delaware County has tons of activities for your kids to enjoy, ranging from floating down the White River to flying a model airplane.
The week will kick off at the Minnetrista Farmer’s Market June 10, from 8am-12pm. Members of the Nature Play Coalition will be giving out passports with a week-long listing of activities. Get your first stamp by playing on Minnetrista’s Imagination Playground near the wishing well or by visiting Betty’s cabin in Oakhurst.
Families who visit at least 3 activities throughout the week will be eligible for the drawing of a grand prize gift basket. Stamped passports should be turned in at the Cardinal Greenway Depot by June 18. Look through the events and discover how many places there are to play around Muncie and across Indiana.
Playing outside is good for the mind, body, and spirit. It is also critical for the health of our planet. Children who play with nature learn empathy for living creatures and become adults who care about the environment. Like any medication there are side effects: spending time outdoors might just make you check your phone less often, feel less stressed, or even take up a new hobby.
To find a nature play event visit: http://www.indianachildrenandnature.org/find-a-nature-play-day.html
Join Red-tail for an adventure hike June 13 10:00-11:30 at Craddock Wetlands and June 15 10:00-11:30 at McVey Memorial Forest. Directions and additional information can be found at www.fortheland.org