Monday, February 22, 2010

Kids & Outdoors

The other day, my little grandson, Braedy (who just turned 2 in December) was visiting and his mom brought along a DVD for him to watch. This kept him busy and quiet for as long as the movie lasted, but as soon as this was over, he was on the look for something else to do and his mom gave him her ipod. She had put a few small games on this digital babysitter.

At first I was a little surprised how he could select apps and drag pages over, etc. just by dragging his little thumbs across the screen or taping the screen. Kids certainly seem to learn anything quickly at this age. Then I started think that these modern day kids have some great toys, but what are they really missing ?

It struck me that they were missing a connection with the outdoors. They are now getting their senses bombarded with man made stimuli. They can see it happen, they can hear it happen, and touching the screen they can make it happen. But they are missing the touch and smell of the environment.

As a kid, we certainly did not have these elaborate toys and most of the time had to use our imagination and ingenuity to develop our own pastimes. Most of this happened outdoors.

Today's kids are not making a lasting connection with the outdoors. The only outdoors they experience sometimes is the brief interval between going outside and getting into the car to go somewhere else to do something indoors again. I realize this is somewhat simplified, but I think its important that we take the time to ensure the next generation goes into the outdoors and experiences it first hand. There is a lot to experience in the outdoors that can leave a lasting impression on them.

Some of the things I can remember doing as a kid include walking in the rain, making mud pies, building a sand castle, looking for shapes in the clouds,  running just to feel the wind in your face, going barefoot to feel the grass tickling between your toes or squishing cold mud with your toes, picking fruit and vegetables in the garden, going for a picnic in the summer and also around a campfire in the winter, playing old fashioned games like hide and seek or red rover or playing marbles or jacks, going wading in a creek or swimming in a pond, going fishing, putting a worm on a hook, flying a kite, picking a dandelion bouquet for your mom, jumping in a pile of leaves, playing hopscotch, making chalk drawings on the sidewalk, climbing a tree, poking a campfire with a stick, finding shapes in the stars at night, writing your name in the sand, making a boat and floating it down a small creek, hatching a batch of tadpoles in a bucket, skipping rocks on a pond, making a whistle from a blade of grass, building a fort in the backyard, collecting rocks, making a walking stick and playing eye spy with my little eye.

How many of these outdoor activities have you done ? How many with your kids ? How many with your grandkids ? Food for thought.

With today's society, kids can no longer play outside until dark. There's too many crazies out there. Our dangers seemed only to be the odd scrapped knee or cut finger or bee sting.

I believe it is more important than ever now to combat the digital world with some real life outdoor experiences for our kids and grand kids. Take the time to expose them to the sights, sounds, touches, smells and tastes of the natural world and they will benefit greatly.

Today's Weather : Low - 7.8, High 7.5, a nice sunny day for doing something outdoors with your kids or grandkids. 

1 comment:

  1. That's some list you made there. Sure took me down memory lane. I too, did most of those things on your list. But now I'm a Grandma of 8. Hard for me to believe, but true. Once when my little grandson, Kaleb, at age 4, was visiting, I taught him how to dig for worms. With a couple of those little garden shovels and a empty coffee can we began digging in the moist spring ground. He's little eyes just about popped out of his head when we found the first worm! It was clear that this was a total surprise to him and that I had taught him something special and amazing. We spent the next hour digging together and gathering worms to go fishing. He was only 4 so I don't know if he will always remember that day, but I will never forget it.