Welcome Spring! After a (very) long winter, signs of spring are (finally) emerging in nature. Spring is also when we celebrate Earth Day, a day intended to inspire Canadians to connect with nature.
Connecting children to nature helps get kids away from screens and learn about urban wildlife and their habitats right where they live. Parents can play a vital role in helping kids put down their tablets and video games and take them outside where they can explore and discover nature. Not only does time in nature offer mental and physical health benefits, it will help evoke a child’s natural curiosity, sense of wonder and a lifelong love of nature.
Teachers can also provide opportunities for students explore, discover and learn about the natural world, and it can be as simple as exploring their own schoolyard. Students can engage in hands-on learning about local species and habitats through a lens of curiosity about nature and with the confidence to connect with it on their own terms. Not only are they provided with engaging opportunities to learn, they are also provided the opportunity to be physically active, which contributes to a child’s physiological health, cognitive function and mental health.
EXPLORING NATURE IN THE SCHOOLYARD
A NatureBlitz (or BioBlitz) is a great activity for educators to engage students in self-directed learning in nature – without having to leave the schoolyard. It’s a time-bound event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a given area. It is a great to introduction to citizen science, to learn about and connect with nature. This activity provides an opportunity for students to engage with nature in their schoolyard and learn about urban wildlife and habitats, and hopefully will encourage them to take what they learned and explore nearby nature at home where they live.
Nature Canada developed a Do-It-Yourself Toolkit for educators on how to run a NatureBlitz that includes resources and support for nature-based learning. Parents or caregivers can also use the Toolkit as a fun weekend activity in nature.
Providing opportunities for children to explore nature can be the best way to celebrate Earth Day this year!
Download the NatureBlitz Toolkit or learn more about ways to reduce screen time and get into nature!
Nature Canada’s NatureHood program provides children and their families increased opportunities to explore and develop a long-lasting relationship with nature in their communities, and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.