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The Green Hour

by Lisa Stauber | July 22nd, 2008 | Elementary

Children today spend a majority of their time in climate controlled environments. Their days are structured and scheduled, and they’re lacking in time to daydream or catch their breath. They’ve lost touch with nature, with the rhythms of the seasons and of life.walking alone

Experts are begging parents to let their children outdoors to play, discover, and de-stress. They recommend allowing kids an unfettered hour of free time every day in a natural environment.

Playing outside strengthens children’s immune systems, helps them become self-reliant, and provides hours of TV-free entertainment. Kids who play outside may get dirty, but also they’ll be exercising, problem solving, and getting a dose of Vitamin D.

It’s not necessary to live near a national park in order to let kids interact with the earth. Any place that has been left wild will do. A patch of weeds behind the housing development, a small neighborhood creek, or even the long untended grass at the edge of an athletic field all offer ample opportunity to learn about the world.

boy climbing rocksDon’t be intimidated by nature! Allow children to become immersed in it, using all of their senses. Take pictures of insects, animals and plants to identify later at the library or on the internet. Smell the water, the dirt, and the flowers. Feel slippery moss covered rocks, rough sandstone, or soft cattail fluff. Listen to birds or the song of the cicada. It’s possible to forage for wild food, even in the suburbs. (Make sure to bring along a detailed field guide to identify any plants you find.)

Looking for more ways to have fun in the wild? The National Wildlife Federation has created a website dedicated to giving parents ideas and activities to do outside. Now, go outside and play!

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