Shelter and Awareness
Training your eyes and ears to notices animal signs, songs and shelters is something worth developing, because it gives us insight into how animals live outdoors all year long. Take a look on the ground, in the trees and all around for signs that animals are living in the urban and wild areas around your home. If it's safe for you and not a disturbance to the animals, try and see how the animals built their shelters. Ask questions! Why did they choose that spot? What materials did they use, and where do you think they found them? Does it look like a shelter that will last the whole winter? What are other questions you could ask the animal about its shelter?
Out and About
Richard Louv has put together a great list called MUD IS GOOD! Ten Easy Ways to Connect Your Family to the Joy of Nature. Follow the link to find 10 things you can do as a family to get you out into nature this Spring. From "Be a cloudspotter or build a backyard weather station" to "invite native flora and fauna into your life," these are simple ways to spend more time outside with your youngsters.
The Importance of Play
Oftentimes, kids will have better ideas than adults. They also have energy that needs to be expended in creative ways. Sometimes there is just too much adult-directed time, and not enough kid-directed time. In Peter Gray's essay The Play Deficit, he says:
"In school, and in other settings where adults are in charge, they make decisions for children and solve children’s problems. In play, children make their own decisions and solve their own problems. In adult-directed settings, children are weak and vulnerable. In play, they are strong and powerful. The play world is the child’s practice world for being an adult. We think of play as childish, but to the child, play is the experience of being like an adult: being self-controlled and responsible. To the degree that we take away play, we deprive children of the ability to practise adulthood, and we create people who will go through life with a sense of dependence and victimisation, a sense that there is some authority out there who is supposed to tell them what to do and solve their problems. That is not a healthy way to live."