Over a decade ago a study of 3-5 year olds in Australia found that even though the children studied could not read they could recognize and understand corporate logos. Yet many children are unable to do the same when it comes to aspects of the natural world - like identifying bird species or types of trees.
But take heart parents and kids of all ages because there are a load of resources that can help you connect with nature in fun and interesting ways. First up is a book - likely available from a library near you or for purchase - called “The Big Book of Nature Activities: A year-round guide to outdoor learning”. Although this book focuses on a geographic area “extending from British Columbia and northern California in the west to the Atlantic Provinces and North Carolina in the east” activities can be adapted for other areas of North America (or the world).
There are some great offerings in the kids’ section of the Bureau of Land Management’s website. There are freely downloadable activity books (in Spanish and English), information about careers for young people interested in nature and even ways to win free passes for the whole family to national parks. A quick search, using the Ecosia search engine of course, will likely help you find similar offerings no matter where you live in the world. Or try that wonderful source of knowledge - a local librarian.
Why connect with Nature? Study after study has demonstrated that being in nature has beneficial effects on human mental and physical health but connecting with nature and seeing ourselves as an integral part of it rather than a separate species holding dominion over it is also vital to help us form a holistic, realistic yet hopeful approach to how we tackle climate change together. When we begin with connection we open ourselves to the possibility of love and as Robin Wall Kimmerer says:
“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants