Outdoors for Auntie’s Day!
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By P. Humbargar
Savvy Aunties know the benefits children receive from being outdoors and forming connections with the natural world. Numerous research findings show that outdoor time is essential to children’s physical and mental health. Additionally, children who spend time in nature from a young age are much more likely to care for the environment as adults. A wonderful way to spend this year’s Auntie’s Day on Sunday, July 22 with our nieces and nephews is by heading outside and helping to foster in them a love of the great outdoors.
Last month was proclaimed Great Outdoors Month by President Obama, but any month is a great month to explore the outdoors with our nieces and nephews. There is something new for children to discover with the coming of every season.
Since it is summertime for many of us now, adventures at the beach, lakes, and streams are a good idea. Young children have a natural affinity for and curiosity about water, so ungluing them from their electronic screens for an Auntie’s Day outing will probably not be too much trouble!
Take a trip to the beach!
If you’re near the seashore, help your niece or nephew search for “treasures” along the beach that have been tossed up by the waves. They will be delighted with the beautiful shells, pebbles, and driftwood they discover. Digging in the sand and making sand sculptures is a must—they could be surprised by a crab or clam! If it’s safe, take off the shoes for a walk in the squishy sand along the shore too. And have them listen to the wondrous music of nature that can be heard at the beach—the waves, the wind, and the birds. Of course, bring plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent, cool water to drink, and good walking shoes for your little ones.
Spend the afternoon at a nearby lake, pond or stream!
For those not near the ocean, much can be discovered along the shore of a freshwater lake, pond, or stream. Take along a bucket, a strainer, pans, and even a magnifying glass if you want to get really up-close to nature. Look for water bugs, dragonflies, fish, frogs, salamanders, crawfish, and other creatures that can be found living alongside or below the water. You might even be able to catch a water-dweller with a strainer and bucket, and study it up close. Another interesting way to see underwater creatures is to make a “water window.” This is a simple device that lets kids look right down into the water to see what’s happening below. For instructions on how to build one of these, click here.
Go for a stroll in the park!
If a trip to the beach or down a stream isn’t feasible, there are still plenty of other ways to share the great outdoors with your nieces and nephews this Auntie’s Day—the possibilities are endless when it comes to exploring nature with young children. Just a walk through the city park or down a short hiking trail has much to offer their curious young minds and growing bodies—and this is something that electronic games and computer monitors can never provide. Once they are out there, just let their imaginations run free—they may very well amaze their aunties with the ideas they come up with!
In whatever way you may choose to share the great outdoors with your nieces and nephews, know that by doing so, you are fostering within them a love of nature, and thus you are giving them a priceless gift on your special day. So, get lots of photos of your outing—and take them outside again, as soon as you can!
For more ideas on outdoor activities with kids from the National Wildlife Federation, click here.
Published: July 2, 2012