Children (and adults!) can gain a multitude of benefits from playing outdoors and being exposed to nature in general, from reduced stress to improved creativity, social relations, and even eyesight!
But it can be hard for children to get enough time outdoors if you live in an area like Central Ohio where the weather is unpredictable. Maybe you don’t have easy access to large natural areas like parks or nature preserves. Or perhaps your kids would rather sit with an mobile device than play in the dirt.
Don’t worry! You can still find ways to expose your kids to nature and conservation without building a windmill in your yard. Here are some simple ways to bring the outdoors to your home:
Show children how to tend to house plants.
Grow some hardy plants like pothos or rabbit’s ear and teach children how to water them on schedule. (Just be aware that certain species, like succulents, don’t like having TOO much water.)
Grow herbs in a container or vegetables in a small garden to cook with.
In addition to learning how to care for plants, kids will also learn where their food comes from. They might even be more interested in trying new things if they watch the herbs and vegetables growing over time. Mint, parsley, and basil are easy to grow herbs and also provide interesting sensory exploration of smells and texture.
Pick up nature items for crafts or just collecting.
Even if you live in the city or out in the suburbs, you can find nature items like pebbles, leaves, and sticks. Start a collection of the most interesting pieces, and you’ll have something to look for whenever you do go to a park or travel. You can also use nature items for crafting. Here are some easy nature crafts you can do with simple items you probably already have at home.
Provide books or magazines about nature.
Even if you can’t get outdoors, many kids enjoy seeing colorful pictures of natural scenes or learning about strange animals from the jungle or under the sea. You can subscribe to magazines like National Geographic Kids or Ranger Rick or purchase them from used bookstores.
Start a fish tank or terrarium.
If your kids are a bit older (and you feel more ambitious), start a real living habitat in your own home. Choose fish that can live well in a bowl or plants that can survive a brown thumb (or overly eager watering).
No matter where you live or what time of year it is, you can always find ways to bring the benefits of nature home to your family.