Introduction to the Activities
Each week you will be provided with several activity options to do with the children in your care. At least one of the activities each week will be based on that week's theme sense, but others will be more random. Think of these recommendations as a place to start. You are welcome to do the activities as written, or simply be outside together, doing whatever you wish to do with your time. (Organized sports are the exception. We encourage you to forgo the use of highly structured outdoor sports practice as part of your five hours! We're focused on less structured, yet facilitated interactions with nature: Think kid directed time, with a bit of guidance.) Unstructured, electronics-free play, in addition to the activities provided is an important component of cultivating wonder and fostering healthy development in children. If you grew up in the 1980s or before, it's likely you spent much of your free time during childhood running around outside, making forts, chasing butterflies or just kicking around with the neighborhood kids. You didn't have a cell phone and the video game options were limited. Going outside was the best option. We think it still is, and according to ample research, going outside is essential for optimal cognitive and physical development. Kids learn how to adapt to change, overcome challenges, and take healthy risks. They learn courage, build autonomy and exercise creativity. They figure out what it means to be a part of a community that is bigger than what they can see on a screen and are more likely to develop a sense of responsibility to the Earth itself due to being in direct relationship with the natural world. They intimately learn about the nature that is closest to home and have the opportunity to develop a love and appreciation of protecting what they see as part of them.
“The physical exercise and emotional stretching that children enjoy in unorganized play is more varied and less time-bound than is found in organized sports. Playtime—especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play—is increasingly recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development."
Maybe you'll hike a trail, maybe you'll run through a grassy field, maybe you'll go to the beach. Maybe you'll go on a wilderness vacation, but maybe, and perhaps this is even more essential than a deep wilderness experience, you and your little ones will just sit in the front yard and watch the clouds go by. The objective of this challenge is to make spending time outside part of the norm-part of what is essential for the days of the children in your care. We think you might be surprised at what you learn about the earth and yourself along the way.
Note: If your group includes children with disabilities, many of the activities can be adapted, or there may be resources available in your community or online to help you create some appropriate activities. See the “resources" section for more information, or contact your local clinic for resources