IN THIS ISSUE::
- Welcome: “Kids and the Great Outdoors”
- Feature: “Get Back to Nature With Your Kids”
- Teacher/Parent Book Pick: “Wild Days: Discovery Journals”
- K-3 Book Pick: “Outdoor Survival Handbook for Kids”
- K-3 Book Pick: “The Kids Campfire Book”
- 4-6 Book Pick: “Essential Camping for Teens”
- Web Discoveries: “Outdoor recreation websites”
- Words of Wisdom: “Getting back to Nature”
WELCOME: “Kids and the Great Outdoors”
This month, our topic is getting back to nature with your kids.
Why go outdoors when we have computer learning, the Internet, video games, hundreds of cable TV channels and unlimited movies to watch? OK, it’s a trick question. (-:
Visiting natural settings with your children and students offers plenty of opportunities to learn, to grow, to communicate and to exercise. Often, these healthy trips are free, and many of them are very near your home.
Our guest columnist, Ted Freedman, has been teaching life skills lessons to grade K-6 children for more than 15 years. He has presented the Million Dollar Machine special assembly program to more than 200,000 elementary children.
This month, he’s sharing the benefits of visiting the great outdoors with his two sons, with a few books and websites to get you started.
Kent Davis – Editor
PS – I invite K-6 educators in the Eastern US to consider our unforgettable School Assembly Program. It includes Life Skills, Character Education and Drug Prevention concepts, and complete lesson plans for teachers and parents. Learn more at http://www.LifeSkills4Kids.com/assembly.html
FEATURE: “Getting Back to Nature with your Kids”
by Ted Freedman
I love the outdoors. I love it even more with my sons.
I’ve found that exploring natural settings gives my children balance and perspective. And it helps us communicate with each other.
It has been one of the great joys of my life to share what I know about nature and my general love of being outdoors. My boys and I hike and explore at every opportunity. We fish and canoe. We even eat wild berries we know are safe.
We collect artifacts from our travels in woods and on beaches; bird’s nests, shells, unusual sticks and rocks. All of these are now part of what we call “the collection”, which grows year by year.
Each part of the collection reminds us
of the days of exploration we spent together.
Today’s media is constantly pushing our kids to rely on consumerism, fast paced activities and hi-tech devices for amusement. Natural outings give parents and teachers inexpensive, low-tech alternatives that can amuse children just as well (or even better). Just don’t listen to too many “reality TV” programs about the dangers of nature before you go!
A few weeks ago, my boys and I were looking in a little creek trying to see if we could pull out a crayfish so my kids could see what one looked like (they call ‘em crawdad’s down South).
As we lay on our stomachs, swirling up mud storms to tempt the crayfish out from hiding, a father and his child came by. I thought they were going to ask us what we were doing, or simply join in.
“You better watch out . . .
there are leeches in there,”
came the dire warning.
I looked up at him, and he added. “You could get yourself a bacterial staph infection, too.”
I nodded back and then turned back to having fun with my children. When he was out of earshot, I asked my boys the one question that came to my mind, “When did people become so afraid of the outdoors?”
They shrugged, and went back to business. They have never been afraid of playing outside, as I had been dragging them out for hikes and nature adventures since they were little.
Another classic warning is about ticks. Whenever we go out for hikes, someone invariably warns us to watch for ticks and the dreaded Lyme Disease they carry.
Since I was five, I’ve been hiking and playing in wooded areas in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. I’ve rarely found any ticks on myself and I’ve never gotten Lyme Disease. While it’s reported to be a painful illness, its existence won’t stop us from enjoying nature. It’s just something else to be aware of when visiting the great outdoors.
The bottom line is that
the rewards far outweigh the risks.
My boys get a real sense of accomplishment when we climb a particularly strenuous mountain, discover a beautiful waterfall or catch a fish.
The best thing of all is that we talk. We talk about our dreams, our favorite movies and our problems. And we do this without being distracted or interrupted by the “modern world”.
So this weekend, drop everything. Forget about mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters and doing laundry. Get back out into the “wild”, to enjoy the amazing world around us, and to learn more about natural wonders that exist even in our own backyards. Try it and you’ll see that a few simple outings with your children will truly work wonders.
Just pop onto the Internet to find a place where you can take your children on a long hike, or camping or canoeing. Don’t worry about the ticks, leeches or staph infections.
Enjoy the chance to slow the pace of your life down a little;
and enjoy the opportunity to get to know your kids.
NOTE: If you like this feature, you can read Ted’s article about “Active Parenting” here http://www.lifeskills4kids.com/archives/newsletter7-2000.html
TEACHER/PARENT BOOK PICKS
“Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals”
by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe
“To notice the painting on a flower, the shape of a cloud, the song of a thrush and the cool smoothness of the bark on a birch tree, these are the memories captured in a nature journal. Nature studies are an integral part of the living atmosphere of a classroom. Without them, trees become merely pictures, flowers lose their fragrance, birds are without song and movement, and life exists only outside the window. To know nature is a source of refreshment and pleasure for every person–teachers and students alike.” Jennifer Brownlee, classroom teacher, posted this review on Amazon.
The Outdoor Family Fun Guide
by Michael & Nicole Hodgson
You can share your favorite outdoor recreations with your children, no matter what their age. Michael Hodgson and his 14-year-old daughter, Nikki, veterans of many such adventures, tell you how you can adapt your outdoor sports and trips to make them fun and safe for your kids, too. Learn how to: Pick the right equipment; Plan that camping trip; Survive the wilderness; Introduce your kids to outdoor sports. Includes a “shopping list” of ultimate adventures, from rafting to cattle drives.
GRADE K-3 BOOK PICKS
“Outdoor Survival Handbook for Kids”
by Willie Whitefeather
Honorary Chief of the Black Creek Cherokee of Florida, river-rafter, and backwoods guide, Willy Whitefeather has lived in the wilderness for many years. When he found almost all of the how-to-survive-in-the-woods books were written for grown-ups, he sat down and wrote this book for his grandchildren and for kids everywhere so they could learn how to “make it back safe.”
This collection of outdoor activities, games, stories, songs, and more is for kids and families to share around the campfire. Kids learn how to make pizza over an open fire, tell a spooky ghost story, or create musical instruments.
By the same author, check out “The Kids Summer Games” book:
GRADE 4-6 BOOK PICK
Essential Camping for Teens” (Outdoor Life)
by Kristin Hooks
“Camping and Walking”
by David Watkins
WEB DISCOVERIES: for teachers, parents & kids
Camping at About.Com
A comprehensive website with an exceptional amount of information about camping, and lists of camping sites.
The Great Outdoor Recreation Pages website. This is the best website for all kinds of outdoor activities and links.
The website of the National Park Service has plenty of educational information and a guide to all the national parks in the US
WORDS OF WISDOM: “Quotes on Nature”
“To me a lush carpet of pine needles
or spongy grass
is more welcome
than the most luxurious Persian rug.”
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off like falling leaves.”
“There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.
A fine landscape is like a piece of music;
it must be taken at the right tempo.
Even a bicycle goes too fast.”
Paul Scott Mowrer
“What is a weed?
A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world
is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.”
“All plants are our brothers and sisters.
They talk to us, and if we listen carefully, we can hear them.”
Arapaho Indian saying
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy
is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet,
alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.
As long as this exists, and it certainly always will,
I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow,
whatever the circumstances may be.
And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”