The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) featured one of our favorites this spring: Richard Louv, co-founder of C&NN and author of Last Child in the Woods. This book’s title may evoke murder mystery novel vibes, but it instead refers to, as Louv coined, Nature Deficit Disorder or the dwindling amount of time today’s children are spending in nature that results in behavioral changes. In this C&NN article, Louv provides ideas to bring nature into your family’s pandemic-era life, whether you’re staying at home or venturing out. In this blog post, we’re listing a few of our favorites.
- “Pick a ‘sit spot.’”
Louv took his cue on this one from nature educator and author, Jon Young. A “sit spot” is a special place in nature that you visit often at varying times (day, night, winter, fall, summer, spring) and become aquainted with intimately. He encourages one to learn everything about this spot, like the animals, trees, plants, and insects that inhabit it. This, Louv said, can help us find a sense of connectedness outside the bounds of our species.
- Play in the dirt!
Louv let’s us know that dirt isn’t damaging. In fact, playing in dirt can help strengthen children’s immune systems. So put on those old clothes and get to digging!
- “Set up a world-watching window.”
This is a great one if you can’t get outside. Try to find a window that pulls you into the outside world. Do you have trees in view? What kind are they? Are there animals or insects? What type of cloud is that? Is that a constellation? Consider keeping some field guides, binoculars, or notebooks around to identify and record the nature around you.
- “Plant a family or friendship tree, or adopt one.”
Plant a tree or adopt one, but don’t stop there. Try keeping a journal of your tree’s progress, taking a crayon and paper bark rubbing, or keeping a digital adoption journal complete with videos and photos. “Acts of caring for others and nurturing nature build psychological and spiritual resilience at a time when children and adults most need it,” said Louv.
Use Lost River Cave’s 72-acres for your nature activities! Here are a few ways you can try out a handful the activities that Louv suggests right at the Park.
- Come for a walk on the (dirt!) valley nature trails.
- Set up your “sit spot” by one of our 7 natural ecosystems. There’s plenty to see from our viewing platforms and trails lined with woodlands, wetlands, blueholes, a spring, meadow, cave and prairie. The park trails are open 7 days a week from dawn ‘til dusk for your use, thanks to donors, sponsors and supporters!
- Volunteer at Earth Week, rescheduled to September 20-26! Get your hands dirty and help native flora and fauna thrive by removing invasive plants species.
- Take an observation hike, looking for critters of all kinds!
- ‘Adopt’ a tree in the Park. Pick a tree to watch over time. Make sure to come every week, month, or season to track it’s changes.
If you like to check out the rest of Louv’s 10 nature activities to get your family through the pandemic, visit the C&NN site.
“10 Nature Activities to Help Get Your Family Through the Coronavirus Pandemic.” www.childrenandnature.org. 16 March 2020. https://www.childrenandnature.org/2020/03/16/10-nature-activities-to-help-get-your-family-through-the-pandemic/