Reconnecting Children with Nature
By: Jenna Bluemlein and Kristen Snider
"The more high-tech we become the more nature we need." –The Nature Foundation.
This message shows that the world is becoming more dependent on technology than necessary. So why not capture the opportunity to bring kids in touch with nature at school? An easy way to do this is to create and use an outdoor classroom.
Times have changed. As Howard Chudacoff of Brown University has said, "When we talk play today, we think of toys; but play previously meant an activity, not an object." As you know, children nowadays are completely influenced by technology, more than they should be. These days when a kid says he's bored, his parents will say, "Well I just got you that new Xbox, iPod, or Nintendo DS you can play on." But before all this technology, if a kid would have said, "I'm bored" to his parents, he would received the reply "Just go play outside." This is no longer a common response. The New Oxford Junior Dictionary is revised every ten to twelve years. It was revised recently, and some of the changes they made would blow your mind. Some of the words that were removed include dandelion, heron, otter, acorn, clover, ivy, and willow. The words that were added include BlackBerry (phone), blog, MP3 player, voicemail, Broadband, chat room, and cut and paste. This indicates that the words removed are no longer common in children's vocabulary.
Ninety percent of kids who spend time outside said being in nature and being outside relieves stress. This can be a helpful tool to students because being in a classroom all day every day can become very stressful. There are many easy ways to make an outdoor classroom; it can be as easy as students making sit-upons to creating a close proximity of wooden benches. You can also use logs, boulders, flat rocks, or benches. If you keep the outdoor classroom close to the school building and in one specific place, the students will be more likely to treat it as a classroom rather than recess.
Having an outdoor classroom will allow kids to experience different learning environments. They can be used in fun yet educational purposes like making a human bar graph or finding parallel lines in nature. The children of today need to be reconnected with the environment, and an outdoor classroom is a perfect way to do that.