Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nature Play

Is play out-of-fashion these days? Do children get enough free time outside to explore their natural surroundings and build connections with the environment? Are days of making mudpies, searching for bugs, climbing trees, and taking nature walks on the brink of existence? Articles in popular magazines, blogs, and newspapers (see The Washington Post's recent article, "Getting Lost in the Great Indoors") have discussed the debate. What do you think?

The subject of play and children's connection to nature is a topic addressed in the following books.:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.

Author Richard Louv argues for the benefits of nature in childhood: creativity, science, connection to the Earth. He calls attention to a study indicating that 8-year-olds could identity media characters much more easily than they could identify the names of trees or insects.

The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble.

These naturalist authors describe their childhood experiences and offer an argument for why they believe experiences with the natural world are so important for children.

Nature for the Very Young: a Handbook of Indoor & Outdoor Activities by Marcia Bowden.

This book offers a variety of fun, nature-inspired activities geared for the preschool through second-grade set.

Janice VanCleave's Play and Find Out about Nature: Easy Experiments for Young Children by Janice VanCleave.

A practical guide for bringing nature experiments home to your young child.

Get Out!: Outdoor Activities Kids Can Enjoy Everywhere (except indoors) by Hallie Warshaw with Jake Miller.

"This guide to outdoor activities in the park, playground, schoolyard, or sidewalk encourage children to get outside and play. Activities include games with balloons and Frisbees, pet shows, running a lemonade stand, being a street artist, and much more."

Nature Spy by Shelley Rotner and Ken Kreisler.

A photographic picture book that encourages exploring the outdoors.

Check out your local library for more books on the subject of outside play and exploring nature.

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