There are those days when going outside to play just isn’t in the cards. That has been the case for my children these past few days. My daughter is recovering from a stomach bug and it is just too darn cold for my son to be outside. When the temps are in the single digits and the wind chill is fierce, his little fingers become icicles in a matter of minutes. Needless to say, we are are going a little stir crazy and could use a breath of fresh air.
In my quest to connect my children with nature, I was thinking about how I can bring the outside inside on days like this. So, I went to the cupboard and rooted around for all the collections of various natural materials we stored in boxes after the summer and fall. At the time, I was tired of picking them up of the floor and finding them hidden all over the house. Now, I was relieved to see our stone and shell collections as well as the acorns, leaves and sticks we stored in boxes. I knew an art project using these items would keep them busy for a while.
I covered the kitchen table with newsprint and combined the natural materials along with the art supplies we have on hand such as contruction paper, paint, markers, glitter, pom-poms, cotton balls, popsicle sticks, paste and old buttons. Without providing much direction, I told my kids to create something using the materials we collected. I winced, waiting for the complaints about how “boring” my idea was and all the excuses about why they should watch a movie instead. When I opened my eyes, they were both busily working on their masterpieces. “Wow, I thought, “this nature thing works inside too.”
Thirty minutes later…no I am not kidding — an entire 30 minutes…. they were still enjoying the activity and created beautiful works of art that are now adorning our refrigerator.
No doubt, the winter weather makes it challenging to keep kids connected to nature. It is much easier to connect them to the TV or computer. As I look ahead at the cold months that lay before us, I think about how I am going to do it. You are probably thinking the same thing. Well, I am here to offer help. My plan is to try to get them outside for at least 20-minutes on the more mild days, which I consider 25 dregrees and up (and includes buddling up in layers and snowsuits). On the bitter cold days, when it is too cold to go out, we will have to connect with nature in different ways. No doubt it’s going to take some creativity to do it. My formula will be to combine trips to the local nature center (we have a terrific one close by that has many great indoor activities) with reading books, going for drives and doing many, many art projects!
I invite you to join me as I attempt to overcome the overuse of electonic media to entertain my children during the winter months. I have many great ideas for indoor and outdoor activities. I would also like to hear your ideas, so please share!