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:
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.
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 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.
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 .
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.
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.
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: 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 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?: 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: 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.