Up the “Awe” Factor for Kids

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Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. ~  Charles Cook

In a world where there is tremendous focus on material things, how do we increase children’s “awe” factor about the natural world?

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Skip the frequent trips to the mall, and head to the great outdoors for fun and activities instead. Insist upon it as the parent. Teach your child to take notice of the spectrum of colors in the flames of an autumn bonfire. Next spring sit quietly with your family and listen to the crickets tone. Do it again  as spring moves into summer and as that fades into fall. You will notice there is a difference in the tones of one of nature’s creatures.

Point out the milkweed pods in a field and the fluff that blows through the air when it dries and opens. Let your child experience the difference in taste between a just-picked tomato off the vine and a refrigerated one.

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Visit the local farm to see where hens lay eggs, or to observe newborn lambs in the spring.  

Take a group of children on a hike and bring along a wildflower guide or a bird book – see how many species you can identify.

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Go on a scenic family bike ride or watch a fishing boat as it unloads the catch of the day.

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Play outside on a snowy day with your family. Watch each crystal formation land on your gloves and examine how two snowflakes are alike – just like people.

Substitute digital playmates with neighborhood friends. Host baseball games at your place or invite kids to join in for some jump rope fun.

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You may be met with rolls of the eyes and bored “uh-huhs” as you point out the beauty in nature, but with time your child will grow to appreciate the outings. As kids mature they begin to “get it” and share the wonders of the world with others who appreciate and value the same kinds of things.

kids-beach

Your family will also benefit from times of special togetherness. With the holidays coming up it is a good time to start changing habits and initiating new traditions and living through the process of discovery.

There is an eye-opening documentary film that addresses children’s nature deficit disorder. The value of outdoor play for children is significant, especially in the digital age when children spend far too much time indoors.

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

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Hanging onto Childhood Memories

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Nature is the art of God ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Jan, stop!” I yelled out to my twin sister as she pedaled ahead of me on her bike.

“What for?” she yelled back to me loudly.

“I just saw something in the woods, and I want to go back. I’m wondering what it is.”

The other day my sister and I were on the way back to my parent’s house from a bike ride. We had gone to collect some pears that we had spied the day before, from the car, on a tree in a vacant lot next door to the United Methodist Church on Taylors Island, Maryland.

“What was it you saw? An animal? ” Jan asked. The remote island of Taylors Island is well-known for it’s variety of shore birds, white-tailed and sika deer, wild turkeys and bald eagles. Dorchester County Maryland  is also notable for it’s abundance of fish, crabs and oysters.http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/waters/

“I don’t know but it  was a cluster of  something pure white on the ground. That’s why I want to go back.”

“Ok, you lead the way.” Jan said. We turned our bikes around and headed back to the spot where I had seen the curiosity.

“It’s there. Through the woods, “ I said pointing. “ we’ll have to cross the ditch and hike in to it.”

We parked our bikes, which had baskets attached to them, laden with the wild pears. We had picked only fruit that had fallen from the tree because the pears hanging from the branches were too green and too far from ripening.

When I initially saw the objects of interest, I had gone through a list of things in my mind of what  I thought they could be. “Perhaps some trash, the tails of a herd of deer , who knows what. ” I thought. As we neared the white patches I had seen through the trees on the ground in the distance, I saw that they were round and nearly a foot in diameter.

“Look at that! They are  huge mushrooms.” I said, completely surprised by my findings.

“Wow! I sure wish I could show them to Rob!” Jan said. “But I don’t have my camera.” I knew Jan’s husband who has been a chef in our nation’s capital’s finest restaurants would be interested.

“Let’s pick a couple and show him,” I said. After I extracted their roots from underneath the bed of pine needles, I felt a little guilty. “Is it a crime to pick mushrooms or pears from the wild?” I asked my sister.

“Too late to think of that now,” Jan said, beginning to place the mushrooms in the bike basket.”Let’s put my jacket between the pears and the mushrooms in the bike basket in case they are poisonous.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “We shouldn’t let the pears and mushrooms touch.”

When we got back to the house we showed our unexpected treasures to our family members, and my brother-in-law looked up the mushrooms on the internet. “They’re edible!” Rob exclaimed.

“Sorry, I am not eating them.” I said, “I value my life too much. We could be wrong. Eating mushrooms from the wild is not a good idea unless you know for sure they are not poisonous.”

“I’ll stick to the pears,” Jan said. “I am not taking any chances.”

That night as I fell off to sleep I thought about our events of the day and what Tom Stoppard once said ““If you carry your childhood with you, you never grow older.” Riding bikes and exploring nature took me back to the days of my youth when my sister and I used to play in the woods and throw stones in streams and find all kinds of fulfilling things in nature to keep us busy.

Images of a few unexpected finds on our bike ride. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wild pears. They are delicious!

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Great-blue-heron

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That’s all for today!

This blog brought to you by the award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her award-winning memoir, Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,  please visit this site. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.