Spending time amongst nature has countless benefits for children as well as adults. With spring and summer weather returning, getting outside to engage with nature becomes easier, and for many, more enjoyable! We can connect with nature intentionally, by consciously engaging in nature-oriented activities, or passively, by partaking in another activity that also brings nature into our lives (i.e. watching a baseball game under a tree, driving down a nature-rich road). Regardless of how you engage, your health is thanking you!
Connecting with nature has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD in children and to increase attention, productivity, and creativity in both children and adults. Furthermore, being amongst nature can boost immunity and the ability to manage and recover from stress. It is also linked to lower rates of obesity and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. This list is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits that can be gained from nature.
The following are some fun ways that your children (and you) can engage with nature this summer to give your health an added boost:
- Explore an area trail: The Marsh and the Bluff trails, the Mississippi Valley Conservancy Trails, Goose Island, Greens Coulee, The La Crosse and Great River State Trails, and Coulee Experimental Forest – just to name a few in the beautiful La Crosse county!
- Make a birdfeeder and watch a variety of birds come to your yard.
- Create a nature journal: Kids can write and/or draw pictures of what they see in nature. They could also make leaf rubs in their journals.
- Plant something! Vegetables, fruits, herbs or flowers that attract butterflies are all great options!
- Have a (photo) scavenger hunt: Challenge kids to find a variety of things in nature – remember it doesn’t take a forest to find nature! Items such as a flower, leaf, bug, cloud, or rock can be found right in your neighborhood! Young kids may wish to collect the items in a basket, while older kids may enjoy a photo scavenger hunt. A few ideas for a scavenger hunt can be found here.
- Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes in nature and note what you hear.
- Join a Nature Connections Hike with a Forester to discover fun facts about the nature around you.
- Make art with items you find in Nature. This could also include art that you create and leave in nature, such as stacked rock sculptures.
- Create a game of Nature Bingo to be completed over the summer.
- Read a book outside.
- Have a picnic in your neighborhood park. If possible, walk to the park and see what kinds of nature you can find on the way.
- Bonus: Try to do a number of these activities at the same time, i.e. explore an area trail and have a nature scavenger hunt.
For more information on our Nature Connections program visit our website and, to stay up to date with the numerous nature-related events and activities in our area, “Like” the Nature Connections page on Facebook.