Posts Tagged outdoors

Celebrating Spring with Outdoor and Reading Activities

Spring is officially here, the days are getting longer, and there’s no better time than now to start spending more time outdoors. The Child Mind Institute has compiled a list of benefits to children of getting outside. These include an increase in confidence and creativity and a decrease in stress. Below are five easy ways for you and the students in your life to get in more sunshine time. In addition, below you can find some books to explore while you’re outdoors.

 

 

Five Easy Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors

  • Create an outdoor reading space. This can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. You can use anything from a quilt or pillow laid out on the grass to a vine-covered arbor with a comfortable bench.
  • Invite students to take homework outdoors. Outdoorosity.org has five easy steps to start studying outdoors. Leaving electronic devices indoors while working on homework outdoors also helps to increase focus.
  • Jot observations in a nature journal. Writing in a nature journal during a break from reading or schoolwork helps students to tune into the details around them. What animals and plants do they notice?  What questions do they have? Students can use some of the books below to help find answers.
  • Take up birdwatching. As students read, study or explore outdoors, they will most likely see and hear plenty of birds. Why not learn more about them? Students can track sightings in their nature journal. At Audubon.org, you and the students in your life can learn more about birds in your area and connect with local birders. In addition, you can find a field guide specific to your region to help identify the birds you find.
  • Plan a visit to a park. Visit a local, state or national park. There you can explore how the history of your area has been shaped by the availability of water, dirt for growing crops, and other natural resources.

Books to Help Explore Your Natural World

The students in your life and you can use the books below to learn more about your natural world:

Book Beastly Bionics

 

Beastly Bionics: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature Paperback by Jennifer Swanson. This book takes readers on a journey to explore how the natural world inspires innovation in science and technology. The inspiration for the next great discovery just might be in your own backyard.

 

 

 

Cover of Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel

 

Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk and Feel by Nancy Castaldo. This book provides insight into animal intelligence. Readers can explore how animals communicate, show empathy, use tools, and interact in social societies.

 

 

 

 

Insects and Spiders

 

Insects and Spiders by Christine Taylor-Butler. This book provides readers with an up-close look at insects and spiders including their habitats and unique abilities. In addition, the book provides insight into dangers facing these creatures and how humans can help keep these species alive.

 

 

 

 

butterfly guide

 

National Audubon Society Pocket Guide: Familiar Butterflies of North America by the National Audubon Society. This guide is small enough to carry almost everywhere, but it is packed full of information to help readers identify 80 of the most common butterflies .

 

 

 

are ants like plants

 

 

Super Science: Are Ants Like Plants?  by Sue Heavenrich. This book takes readers deeper into the world of ants and plants and introduces students to fascinating facts about how these living things access food, grow, and communicate with their friends.

 

 

 

 

kid's Guide to Exploring nature

 

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet) by Brooklyn Botanic Garden Educators (Author) and László Veres (Illustrator). This guide provides readers with information on how to observe their natural world as a naturalist does. In addition, it leads them on 24 adventures to explore the complex ecosystems of plants and animals in the woods, at the beach, and in a city park.

 

 

 

 

Rocking Book of Rocks

 

 

The Rocking Book of Rocks: An Illustrated Guide to Everything Rocks, Gems, and Minerals by Florence Bullough (Author), Amy Ball (Author) and Anna Alanko (Illustrator). This book helps students explore the diverse world of rocks, gems and minerals. As a result, they just might become budding geologists.

 

 

 

 

trees leaves flowers and seeds

 

 

Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom by DK with contribution by the Smithsonian Institution. This book helps readers explore the diverse and intriguing world of plants. It features more than 1,000 images and interesting facts to take readers into the botanical world, from tiny seeds to giant trees.

 

 

 

ultimate bug-opedia

 

 

Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Nancy Honovich and Darlyne A. Murawski. This book invites readers to explore the hidden world of the most popular bugs on the planet.

 

 

 

 

who gives a poop

 

 

Who Gives a Poop?: Surprising Science from One End to the Other by Heather L. Montgomery (Author) and Iris Gottlieb (Illustrator). This book  invites readers to explore the interesting science behind poop and to discover how poop has a purpose. In addition, readers will learn about the role that poop has played in history.

 

 

 

 

wildlife ranger action guide

 

 

Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home by Mary Kay Carson. This book helps students become citizen-scientists with dozens of hands-on activities and habitat-creation projects.

 

 

 

 

For more information to help explore the natural world of the students in your life and you, please check out our STEM Tuesday section.

Using Time in Nature to Get Your School Year Off to a Terrific Start

Photo: Jo Hackl

This year presents unique challenges for educators, students, and parents. As we navigate the new normal, why not try a proven technique to reduce stress and increase overall well-being? It turns out that spending time outdoors (even for a few minutes) can help you to do just that. Here’s a summary of some of the growing body of research supporting the benefits of exposure to nature.

Below are some easy ideas to help you incorporate nature into your day. They can not only help to make your day better, but also benefit your entire family.

Photo: Jo Hackl

 

 

1. If possible, eat breakfast outside or by a sunny window. Exposure to sunlight helps you wake up and the sights and sounds of nature help set the mood for a productive, calm day.

 

Photo: Jo Hackl

 

 

2. Whether you’re working at home or going to school, include something from nature in your workspace. Even a simple photograph from nature pasted on the inside cover of your notebook can help you relax if you get stressed.

 

 

3. Unwind at the end of your school day by taking a walk outside. This helps you clear your mind and relax your body.

                              

Photos: Jo Hackl

 

Photo: Jo Hackl

 

 

4. Consider keeping a nature journal. Your journal doesn’t need to be anything fancy. All you need is something to write on and a pen or pencil to record things that interest you in nature. You might try sitting in the same spot every day and noting how the things you see, hear, feel and touch change over the course of the seasons.

 

 

5. Plan your weekend around outdoor activities. It’s easier to maintain social distance outdoors and outdoor activities provide a fun way for your family and friends to make memories. If you’d like to take things a step farther, join me in the practice I’ve maintained for over 25 years—every Sunday I unplug from technology and spend as much time as possible outdoors. My family and I hike. We garden. We take nature photographs. We don’t think about work or school. And that one simple habit makes an enormous difference in our week.

Photo: Jo Hackl

 

If you can’t get outdoors, you can read books with natural settings. In addition to classics such as Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, and Island of the Blue Dolphins

                                                                                 

 

Below are some other wonderful books set outdoors:

 

A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry takes readers on a journey with a wolf separated from his family who embarks upon a thousand-mile journey to find a new home. Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan, calls it “[r]iveting and lyrical . . . a vibrantly imagined celebration of the natural world.”

 

 

 

 

Pax by Sara Pennypacker takes readers on an adventure with Peter, who sets out to reunite with his pet fox. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it “at once a wilderness adventure about survival and a philosophical foray into big questions.”

 

 

 

 

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence takes readers on an adventure with two boys who must survive on their own in the Alaskan wilderness. The Horn Book Review calls it “[a]n emotionally engaging and heart-pounding read.”

 

 

For more information to help you explore the natural world, check out our STEM Tuesday section. You also can find more ideas (and cites to more research supporting the benefits of time in nature) at www.Outdooorosity.org. I grew up in the country and experienced the benefits of spending time outdoors. Years ago, this convinced me to create Outdoorosity as a free resource. These recent months have demonstrated more and more the value of making time to get outdoors to refresh and recharge. And doing so is good for all the people in our lives.