This is my first post ever on a blog. I am feeling the weight of the impact of those first few words. What do I say? Will people be interested? As I sit and stare at the screen I realize I should just type what is on my mind. So here I go!
My children are on my mind….as they are almost every moment of every day. However, in regard to the topic of this blog, I am thinking about how I am going to do something outside with them today. It’s a rainy, cold, damp and dreary day and the last thing I want to do is go outside. I opened the door to feel how cold it is and my son came toddling over, fighting to get through my legs to the outside. I shivered, kept him trapped behind my legs and closed the door. He screamed and stood pounding at the door obviously wanting to go outside. Then my young daughter said, “Hey, Mom! Can we go outside?” It was then that I realized children do not care much about the weather. They just want to be outside exploring as much as possible.
I had planned to begin this blog months ago in the summer, when the weather was nice and warm and there was plenty to do outside and thus, plenty of fodder for the blog. Today, I realized that parents are even more challenged to take their kids outside on days like today. During the cold months, when it gets dark early and you are not much motivated to root around in the yard, it it is hard to spend time in nature. It is during these months that taking your kids outside is the most important because they spend much of their day inside at school, at playgroup, during recess, etc. I also realized that if I am going to be true to my blog readers, I am going to have to press on even when I really would rather sit inside and read books.
My goal is to take my children outside every day. Even with the best intentions I do not make it outside every single day, but I definitely notice a difference in their behavior on the days it does not work out. They are rambunctious and get into trouble. Whenever this happens I think, “tomorrow we are definitely going outside.” I will strive to share our outdoor activities as often as possible to help give you ideas for taking your children outside and to help you connect them to nature!
So today we are heading outside into the damp, wet weather to reconnect with nature and we are going to look around the yard for worms. Yes, you read correctly, worms. In wet cooler weather, earthworms are close to the surface of the soil. Today is an ideal day for hunting worms, as it is lightly drizzling rain (if it’s sunny where you live you can find them by sprinkling the soil with water and digging down into the dirt — an activity kids especially enjoy). As you walk around the yard they begin to pop up onto the surface. Whether or not kids like to touch worms, they are always mesmerized by them. Once you find some you can study them and talk about their color, size, shape and how they feel. You can explain that they play an important role in nature because they assure that trees and flowers grow by helping to keep the soil healthy.
Earthworms tunnel through the soil like a plow by moving stones and creating air pockets. This keeps the soil from getting compacted and allows the roots of trees and plants room to grow. Not only that, they eat rotten leaves and other matter and their poop (what kid doesn’t like to talk about poop!), called castings, contains nutrients that plants and trees need for healthy growth. You can ask your children what their bodies need to help them grow. You can also explain that worms are food for many creatures, especially birds. You can watch Robins in particular hunt for worms. You often see them running across lawns listening and looking for earthworms in the ground. After explaining all this, before you know it at least 30 minutes will have passed. You will head back inside and everyone will feel good about being outside for a little while.
Well, there you have it. My first tip on getting your kids outside. I pictured in my mind a more glamorous beginning for my blog. After all, there are certainly more glamorous topics about nature. But, in the end, this blog is about how to enjoy and discover nature in simple ways. The ways in which children most enjoy it!
Now get outside and enjoy worm hunting!