Let's Play Outside!

Connecting Your Child to the Great Outdoors

Literature and Nature: We're Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

This week we read the book We're Going On a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger. This fun story is similar to the classic book We're Going on a Bear Hunt. This book had us up and moving as we acted out the story and chanted along with the repetitive rhythm. Once we finished reading, we went on our own leaf-finding adventure. We went outside and collected different leaves to use throughout the day. During our nature walk, we used magnifying glasses to examine the veins and stems of different leaves. Once we had collected enough leaves, we headed inside to sort all of our leaves by size, shape and color. We finished our leaf exploration by using them to make leaf rubbings. We had so much fun exploring outside and learning more about fall leaves!

Did You Know? The Vestibular System

Did you know that the vestibular system is the sensory input system that aids in providing a sense of balance and spacial awareness to the body? Children need active play experiences to get their bodies moving and to stimulate the hair cells found in the inner ear. This can be done through hanging upside down, spinning in circles, rolling down hills, and other movements. Children that activiate their vestibular system on a daily basis have better developed balance systems that lead to enhanced attention and learning in the classroom.

(Below) We activated our vestibular systems by tumbling down the hill behind our school.

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The Benefits of Tree Climbing

Climbing trees seems like an essential part of any childhood outdoor play time. Yet for children today, tree climbing has become a rare experience. Many say "It's too dangerous! They might fall and get hurt." Yes, there are risks to tree climbing. However, the benefits and enjoyment far outweigh the potential risks. Here are a few of the many benefits to climbing trees:

  1. Tree climbing increases self-confidence. As children master something new, they gain confidence in themselves and their abilities
  2. Climbing enhances gross motor development. Tree climbing improves balance and coordination while also allowing children to build muscle strength.
  3. Tree climbing promotes critical thinking skills. When climbing, children have to consider where to put their hands and feet, which branches are safe to climb on, and how to position their bodies. Each tree is different and offers a new challenge.
  4. Climbing builds resilience. Tree climbing teaches children that tiny scrapes and scratches will happen. It encourages them to brush themself off and continue on with the adventure.
  5. Climbing encourages children to use their imagination and explore. As children play and climb, they are given opportunities for pretend play and imaginitive thinking. They also can explore nature up close and personal (tree bark, leaves, insects, and more).
  6. Tree climbing brings excitement and happiness. Climbing brings happiness, smiles, giggles and joy. It's a fun way to spend time in nature and learn about the world!

Featured Organization: Children and Nature Network

"The Children & Nature Network is leading the movement to connect all children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership." Check out their website to learn more about how YOU can make a difference by connecting kids to nature, supporting community nature programs, and improving health and wellness for children.