Summer vacation is here. What will your child do with their new free time? In order to ensure that their summer isn't spent on an ipod or in front of a television set, plan out and some activities to get them outdoors and communing with nature. Better yet, show how important you think outside time is and get some quality time with your child by participating in these activities yourself.
Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to modify, or improvise based on your child's interests and social-emotional needs. Many of these activities are based on the almost perfect book Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell given to me by my mentor Faith Beiler.
- Micro-Hike: To take a micro-hike, your child should choose a small stretch, 5-10 feet long. He or she crawls along inch by inch, noticing all of the insects, grasses, soil and stones along the way. It is fun to use a magnifying glass for this activity.
- Adopt a tree: Your child selects a tree, and then sits beneath it and journals for 15 minutes each day. As they get to know it better they will notice subtle changes and get a sense of the trees unique "personality". Encourage your child to notice the micro-communities of organisms living in and around the tree.
- Silent Walk: Take your shoes off and button your lips. When you walk bring the ball of your foot down before the heel to be as silent as possible. Notice the sounds, smells, and textures around you.
- Build a peep town: Using bark, moss, and other collected natural materials, build a minature town for peeps, the little folks of the forest.
Being in touch with nature means being aware of our surroundings and honoring connections and cooperation. Important social skills for any autistic or neuro-typical child.