ECOS Urban Outdoor Nature Club families are adjusting to social distancing under a “Stay at Home” order.  In these uncertain times, anxieties can build over loss of income, life in close quarters, and the need for parents to suddenly become home school teachers. 

One way to work with these stressors is to spend time outside, in nature.  The “Stay at Home” order allows for outdoor recreation as long as social distancing is practiced.  You need to go no further than your own backyard or neighborhood.

Spring is waking up in Kansas City, as a walk through any neighborhood will reveal.  The Eastern Redbud trees are starting to bloom, migrating birds are arriving, spring flowers are pushing up, and pollinator insects are beginning to emerge from their winter hibernation.  Sometimes when we are really busy, we don’t notice these things, but now that we’re home more, we have an opportunity.

When you take a family walk, each family member can experiment with observing using their five senses. What is everyone seeing, hearing, smelling, and yes, tasting?  Spring air is different from Winter air, and it tastes and smells different.  See if you can notice it?  Can you touch a tree’s bark, or smell a spring flower together?  What if you compared experiences?

While backyard play or a neighborhood walk are casual ways to reduce stress and learn, there are more formal (but fun!) ways to use nature for children’s lessons.

Here are some ideas from our friends at Green Schoolyards America about ways to use nature for art and math lessons.

Art in Your Backyard

Math in Your Backyard

If your students really like the Art and Math lessons, Green Schoolyards America is giving away their Outdoor Learning Activity Guides for free.

Free Outdoor Learning Activity Guides