Winter – just hearing that word makes us reach for a warm mug of hot cocoa and dig out our scarves and wool mittens!
Spending time in nature with your child during this chilly time is a surprisingly fun way to defeat the winter doldrums. So, this holiday season, create a new family tradition by bundling up in layers and venturing out together to discover the quiet wonders of winter.
With your help, your child will notice the little changes that winter brings:
- Staying Warm: As you zip up your coat and throw on a scarf, point out the change in temperature and how it’s colder now. Ask if your child can see their breath! Around your neighborhood, you’ll see that many of the animals grow a thicker coat in the winter (squirrels and raccoons) to stay warm. Point out the local birds that “puff up” their feathers to trap warm air close to their bodies like a built-in jacket.
- Super Sleuth: Winter walks are a great time to play “I Spy”. Now that trees and plants have dropped their leaves, it’s much easier to find bird nests, animal burrows or woodpecker nest cavities.
- Birds on the Move: Point out any local birds you see and ask your child if they are the same birds that they saw this summer. Odds are, some of your favorites may have migrated to warmer weather for the winter and new species may have come from up north.
- A Flashlight Safari: Now that darkness comes earlier this time of year, there is a unique chance to experience your neighborhood in a new way. Join your child on a flashlight tour of your backyard or neighborhood. Listen carefully for new sounds, discover interesting insects that gather near porch lights and watch for little eyes shining back at you!
- DIY Decor: Many trees in our neighborhoods have dropped their leaves and your child may notice that they look different. At home, collect fallen leaves, pods or seeds and incorporate these into your holiday decorating!
Want to learn more about family holiday traditions from around the world? Join us for our Cultural Series celebration tonight!
Published July 11, 2013
Conservation , Green Tips , National Aquarium , News
Tags: be out there, great backyard campout, heather doggett, national aquarium experts, national wildlife federation, nature, nature of learning, NWF, summer
This Summer, National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There initiative is encouraging families to get outdoors and explore the natural beauty around them!
We all know spending time outside is a lot of fun but did you know it is also great for our bodies and brain development? Since the average 9 – 13 year old child only plays outside 6 percent of their week, it’s even more important than ever to spend time in nature. The benefits are wide-reaching and well documented: playing in nature decreases stress levels, increases creativity, increases focus in school and improves eyesight.
Wow! If the s’mores weren’t motivation enough, those are great reasons to campout with the family this weekend!
When you do camp and explore the outdoors, there are a few simple environmental manners to keep in mind. I find these 7 principles from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics particularly helpful:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Whether it’s your neighborhood trails or a National Park, it’s always best to know the rules when it comes to food, camping equipment, etc.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- When choosing a place to set-up camp or the day’s rest area, keep it to the established trails/site areas. Not only is it in the best interest of your safety, but it ensures that we don’t further disrupt the natural environment you’re enjoying!
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- When you’re ready to leave, ensure that all your products, waste and litter leave with you!
- Leave What You Find
- Avoid taking natural objects and organisms with you. The transport of non-native species and cultural/historic artifacts from their natural habitat can have a lasting, negative impact.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Where campfires are permitted, take the precautionary measures to ensure that fires remain small and controlled.
- Respect Wildlife - One of the greatest parts of getting outside is being able to experience an abundance of wildlife (sometimes even in your own backyard)! As exciting as those experiences are, it’s important to remember that animals need to be observed from a distance and that feeding animals can be extremely harmful to their health!
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors - Let’s make sure that the families coming after us also have a great experience! By following the above principles, we can all ensure that these natural areas can continue to be enjoyed for years to come!
Planning on getting outside and exploring your natural surroundings this weekend? Share your plans/ideas in the comments section!