Need for Nature
Recent studies show that most American children spend less time outdoors each day than inmates in maximum security prisons! Fresh air is not only good for the soul, but good for our bodies, too. Studies suggest that spending time outdoors decreases inflammation, improves sleep, and may lower blood pressure, among many other benefits. Best of all, it’s free!
I will never forget when my oldest was a one-year-old sitting outside with a spoon. He used it as a shovel, an instrument, and a whisk. With nothing but the great outdoors, his toddler imagination, and his spoon, he had so much fun! I realized then that children don’t need a lot of stuff. They just need space to be kids and be creative. I love watching my children learn through nature.
We will take any indoor activity outside. I bought a waterproof picnic blanket that comes everywhere with us. We eat meals, do crafts, play with toys, and read outside on our blanket. During the pandemic shutdown, my kids helped build a tree-house from things we already had around our house. it taught them so much about hard work and being resourceful.
Endless Opportunities to Explore
One of the things I love most about Birmingham is the fantastic (and mostly free!) outdoor activities. We use the All Trails app to find easy hiking trails for the whole family. The kids have nature journals where they document what we find; this can be as simple as a drawing or gluing a leaf on a page. We love going to the Botanical Gardens to explore and then finishing the day at their fabulous library.
Nature activities don’t have to be fancy, but can be just as simple as parking the car when we see a pathway or a creek that looks inviting. Along with the waterproof picnic blanket, I also keep an easy to hang hammock on hand for when we find the perfect spot to relax.
Rain or Shine
My kids love to splash in puddles and get muddy. As long as it’s not lightning, I will let them run around when it is raining and they have so much fun! We try to spend as much time outdoors regardless of the weather. In the winter we bundle up so we can still get outside as much as possible. (We all need vitamin D from the sunshine, especially in the winter months.) There are so many wonderful lessons to learn when we spend time in nature with children!