Date : July 7, 2020
A love of nature is deep in our bones as human beings – foster a love of nature play with your child, and help relieve their stress!
When your child exhibits signs of stress – whether due to the current pandemic, the global unrest, or just the huge upheaval to their routines – it would be so easy to park them in front of a screen and distract them with a game or a movie. Resist that urge! More and more, psychologists are urging us to turn towards nature to find solace – especially when it comes to children. When kids are exposed to sunlight, trees, and water, they become happier, healthier, stronger, and more resilient. Their anxiety levels will plummet, while their blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and production of stress hormones will be reduced. Exposing your child regularly to the natural world through nature play will result in a calmer, healthier, more focused little person. Give our four easy, nature-based play activities a go, and watch the stress melt away!
A nature scavenger hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a fun way to get your kids out in the sunshine and fresh air, while learning about the local flora and fauna. They’ll have fun, get in some endorphin-producing exercise, and observe the natural world. There are loads of free scavenger hunt printables for you and your child to try. Try your local park or nature reserve, or if you’re near the coast, your local beach. Give it a whirl – and if you don’t know what you’ve found, you can always check in with Google.
Leaf rubbings and flower pressing
Encourage your child to get out into nature and find the most interesting leaves they can, and then use their rubbings to make all manner of interesting artwork – from cards to wrapping paper – whatever their little imaginations can come up with, the sky’s the limit. Flower pressing is also a fun way of preserving an anxiety-busting walk in nature with your child. Simply put the flower between two pieces of white tissue paper and then place it inside the pages of a heavy book. Add additional books to make it flatter, and wait two to three weeks. The flower will be beautifully flat, and your child can put it in a picture frame or glue it on to paper to make a birthday card.
Visit one of your regular walking spots in the moonlight – the space is transformed, and made new for your child. Encourage them to gaze upwards at the stars, and ask them if they can see any patterns in the sky. If they’re older, you can research the constellations and see if you can spot any. It’s also fun to watch out for nocturnal animals – fruit bats, owls, possums – any native creatures that may be out and about.
Make a nature suncatcher
With a nature suncatcher, your child brings nature inside. This gives them something to help ease their anxiety when they can’t be outside. For this, you’ll need flower petals, leaves, clear contact paper and a paper plate with the middle cut out. Simply stick the flowers and leaves in pretty patterns on the contact paper, cover with another piece of contact paper, and then use the paper plate to frame it, like a circular window. Your child can paint the paper plate frame to make it as colourful as they like!
For more information on nature play, May Gibbs is a font of knowledge! Check out our wonderful articles on nature-based play
Right now, Librarian Bec’s hard at work at your local library, sharing a passion for reading with little people and big. Bec writes about inspiring little readers and embracing lovely literature.