As adults, we are too often “plugged in”. At any point in the day you can find us at a computer to finish a grant application, or on the phone advocating for a Club kid who has shown great improvement in academics in an after school setting. That also doesn’t account for checking emails while helping prepare materials for the community dinner, or sitting in front of a screen to learn how to implement a new program. If we unplug, we will notice that our Club kids are just as plugged in, if not more, because it has become their norm.
Green spaces and activities outdoors have been found to have a positive impact on youth who are suffering from disorders such as depression, anxiety, obesity, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Inspired by the Wild Network and their collection of outdoor activities known as Wild Time, we have created five relevant ways to get your Club kids outside and engaged in the wonderful wild around them! They are as follows;
- Habitat Hunters- The television show House Hunters meets the great outdoors. Form groups of youth and send them on a hunt to find habitats of indigenous insects or animals. They could draw, photograph, or use written word to describe what they found. Want to extend the activity? Have the groups write a story about one of the habitats or present what they found to the group.
- Painting Picassos- Have youth gather natural materials such as leaves, grasses, and berries to mix with water to paint onto a soft cloth.
- Daring Discovers- Sometimes the best way to let kids explore the natural world around them is to not give them parameters in which they must explore. Of course, safety rules are needed, but give them an hour or two to explore with the prompt that they are looking to discover something new to them.
- Taking Technology- Putting away phones, tablets, and computers can be a hard adjustment in beginning depending on your audience. Start your dive back into nature by incorporating these items. First, kids can research different outdoor activities or natural occurrences that they find interesting and then they can go out to document what they have researched. Digital camera and phones/tablets with camera capabilities can be a great way to tell about the topic of interest.
- Natural Born Leaders- The Children and Nature Network has a tool kit for youth that want to be leaders and bring others outside with them. Check out how to grow natural born leaders in your Club!
Good luck on your journey outside! We would love to see you, staff, and Club members celebrating green spaces. Share your activities by posting a photograph or video on Instagram using the #NativeClubs. We know you can’t always be unplugged, so why not share when you are “plugged in”!