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Another leading advocate is Richard Louv, co-founder and chair emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network. Their annual Summit conference is well worth attending. It’s inspiring to hear from environmental educators doing nature-based projects.
Louv’s groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit
Disorder, was a call to action for many.
In his book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, Richard Louv predicts: “The future will belong to the nature smart — those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real.”
You’ll discover lots of good suggestions in Richard Louv’s informative books. Any of them would be a good choice for your book club. Maybe start one with your friends or kids?
Another of Louv’s books filled with practical tips is Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health and Happiness of Your Family & Community. This is the kind of book you open anywhere and find something of interest. The following may jog a happy memory: “Many of us remember our special childhood place in nature. Perhaps it was under a tree we loved, on a trail in the woods, in a field nearby, or at the edge of a pond where our spirits grew strong. That special place still exists in our hearts today.
“Mounting scientific evidence and common sense tells us that kids need nature for their emotional, physical and spiritual health. They need it for their cognitive development, for their ability to learn and create, and for their ability to protect the future of nature itself.
As our world changes rapidly, connecting children to nature is more important than ever. We
believe that every child deserves a positive connection to nature. Every child, from every neighborhood, culture, economic background and set of abilities.”
Every home and classroom should have at least one of these books. Teachers we hear from see a disturbing trend in students: nature and play-deficit, little interest in physical activity, increased violence and bullying, and a lack of empathy.
They are also concerned about the high levels of children’s anxiety. Outdoor free play, or our other strategies, don’t cure all of these, but, “they can go a long way to easing them,” a teacher
reported. “Our class read Last Child in the Woods and Vitamin N. The kids took turns directing those nature play activities. We’ve built these into our class schedule.”
His Site: https://www.childrenandnature.org/
Physician Dr. Eva Selhub and naturopath Dr. Alan Logan detail the effects of nature on the brain and the influence of technology on the brain. They explain how excessive screentime and its distractions negatively impact the brain. This information can build motivation and inspire you to get your kids outside – to run freely. To sit quietly.
This fact-filled book offers nature based therapies for every age.These include ecotherapy and practical strategies to boost cognitive functioning, mental health and physical well being through ecotherapeutic, nutritional and behavioural interventions. Scientific studies have shown that natural environments can have remarkable benefits for human health. Natural environments are more likely to promote positive
emotions, and viewing and walking in nature have been associated with heightened physical and
Nature has also been found to have a positive impact on children who have been diagnosed with
impulsivity, hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder. They offer ways to connect with the natural world, including forest bathing, gardening, tending to indoor plants, caring for a pet.
Their book, and website, are excellent places to find references on the scientific
research and thousands of peer reviewed studies.
Their site is: www.yourbrainonnature.com
Outdoor greentime benefits From Your Brain on Nature by Eva Selhub, MD, and Alan Logan:
-Higher connectivity with nature provides greater well being and vitality (Selhub p.227)
- Foster positive thoughts; lower anger and aggression (Ulrich p.16)
- Decrease physiological markers of stress (Ulrich p.15/16)
- A nature view from classroom is linked with higher scores in reading, language proficiency & math (Selhub p.71)
- Nature releases aromatic compounds that reduce stress hormones, anxiety, increases pain threshold & improves immune defense (Selhub p.83)
- Walking outdoors for 20 minutes helps with stress and cognitive functioning for kids and teens
- Good to play in the dirt! Bacteria Lactobacillus has a positive influence on mood and cognition and is found in dirt. (Selhub p.161) Gardening provides a sense of purpose and meaning (Selhub p.155)
- School gardening programs have shown positive impacts on life skills, working in groups, self understanding and academic scores (Selhub p165), and on eating more vegetables (p.166)
-Adults who gardened as kids valued trees and plants more (Selhub p.165)
- Gardening improves motivation, communication, grief processing, depressive thoughts, anxiety, sleep,
psycho social skills, self-esteem, reduced stress and improved overall well being (Selhub p.154)
Are you ready now to head over to the garden centre and pick out some plants and potting soil and have some hands-in-the-dirt fun?
Jennifer Ward is a children’s author and public speaker. She has written over 20 award winning picture books for children. I Love Dirt! provides simple guided activities to encourage us to see the world outside with new eyes, unplug for a moment, and reap the benefits and rewards by doing so.
The children’s author Jennifer Ward says: “There is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch the children discovering the world around them. Whether they’re collecting fallen leaves, rolling down grassy hills, or playing in the waves at the beach
— seeing that wide-eyed wonder in our children is such a gift. The outdoors is at your fingertips, be it a balcony, a backyard, a porch, or a playground. It is a place just waiting to be enjoyed and discovered.
“Time in nature is cost-free, but the benefits will stay with your children for a lifetime. Together we can give the young minds of today — of our future — the greatest gift of all: an awakened awareness of the outdoor world.”
‣ Spring activities: building birds nests, learning about earthworms, exploring rain
‣ Summer activities: hunting for butterflies, digging in the dirt, planting seeds
‣ Fall activities: a leaf hunt, searching for spider webs, cloud racing
‣ Winter activities: stargazing, drawing bare trees, building a snow fort, observing snowflakes as they fall
Her site: www.jenniferwardbooks.com
Directed by Sylvie Rokab and narrated by Liam Neeson, Love Thy Nature points to how deeply we've lost touch with nature and takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the beauty of our relationship with the natural world. The film shows that a renewed connection with nature is key both to our health and the health of our planet.
“People often ask me why I made this film, so I thought I’d share my story here with you. I was born in Rio and raised by parents who were nature-lovers. I was a lucky girl: the Rio beaches and the Atlantic forest were my backyard! The natural world fed my need for adventure, discovery, and wonder. As an adult — and filmmaker — that desire to share nature with others only grew. But I also started seeing the destruction of the places I called home --- run offs poisoning rivers, fires consuming forests, silence replacing sounds of life. My heart kept breaking in pieces. I wondered, how could anyone let this happen? If people felt connected to nature as much as I did, would they still allow its destruction? These thoughts became the seed for the film. My wish is that people come to realize that a deeper connection with the natural world won’t just ignite a desire to protect it, but also allow them to experience a new level of health, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in their own lives. Love Thy Nature is my homage to its magic, power, and genius. And it’s my gift to you. I hope it will inform and inspire you, your family, school, and community, so that we can help transform and restore our precious world – from the inside out.”
— Sylvie Rokab
The site for this film: www.lovethynature.com
Alice Peck is an editor as well as the author of six books—including
The Green Cure. Dedicated to wellness and spirituality, she focuses on creativity, mind and spirit, collaborating with Zen and Tibetan Buddhist teachers, psychotherapists, meditation instructors and more.
Alice Peck writes: “Few healing practices work as both prevention and therapy, but being in nature is a
notable exception. Current scientific understanding proves what humans have known for millennia: going outdoors and spending time in nature, from forest bathing to a walk in the park, provides a simple and powerful way to improve your health and well being. Vacation days aren’t a requirement; we can connect with nature even when we’re very far from the countryside or seashore and can’t leave our
home or workplace. There are a myriad of ways to seek out nature in our day-to-day lives such as a view from a window or a potted plant on a desk, but the green cure is almost always available.”
Forest bathing – shinrin-yoku
Window time as a formal practice
Earthing and mud baths
Sense and water meditation
The author Nancy Honovich has written numerous articles, short stories and books for children. She is also an editor for the National Geographic Society. Richard Louv (Introduction) is the bestselling author of Last Child in the Woods and cofounder and chair emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network.
This book inspires kids and parents to go outside and explore their backyards, forests, lakes, ponds or parks while learning about wildlife, weather, plants, insects and many more things in the natural world. There are activities for every season to keep kids engaged throughout the year. Fun facts, lists and sidebars put information into geographic, scientific and/or historical context.
There are five sections – each containing numerous activities.
The Let’s Get Wet section offers activities to do near the water. The Journey Through the Trees focuses on everything that can be done with plants and the animals living in the forest. The Explore Your Backyard section encourages kids to be creative at home. The Nature Around Town section allows them to discover nature in their community. Let’s Go to the Park offers activities to do in their province/state.
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