Welcome to the Outdoors Family Challenge! This is a seven day challenge to help get you and your kids outside, living more sustainably, and connecting more with nature and each other. If you would like automatic updates each morning, sign up for the email list, follow check out the archives on the blog, or like my Facebook page.
Each morning, I’ll post a prompt for you to do and then the afternoon or evening, I’ll post about our experiences.
We encourage you to post about your experience on your blog and social media using the hashtag #outdoorsfamilychallenge. (It would be even better if you could include a link to my blog or Facebook page so other people can find out how to participate!). At the end of the week, I’ll be giving away a copy of Richard Louv’s Vitamin N to a random participant that uses the hashtag.
If you can’t do the activity that day, that’s okay! Do it the next day and don’t worry about following it exactly.
For even more outdoors fun, check out the Children and Nature Network’s Vitamin N Challenge. Jen Mendez at PERMIE KIDs, Sandi Schwartz at Happy Science Mom, and Aditi Wardhan Singh at Silver Linings are also participating in the Challenge, so be sure to check out their posts as well!
We can’t wait to see your photos and read about your experiences!
Day 1 Challenge: Use your senses to take in nature.
Spend 15 minutes (or more) outside with your kids, just paying attention to what is going on around you. Encourage your kids to use all five senses. Sit on the ground, if possible.
Be silent for a few minutes and then ask them:
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What do you smell?
- What do you feel?
- What do you taste?
For small children, it may be helpful to play a couple different games to hold their attention.
For example, you can play an expanded version of “I Spy..” Describe sights, sounds and smells and have them guess what you are describing.
For older kids, you can go a little more abstract. One idea from Jen Mendez from PERMIE KIDs is to play a game called “human camera.” In this game, two people sit back to back, with one as the human camera and the other as the investigator. The human camera describes an object without naming it or any part of it they are observing with as much detail as possible. The investigator then draws what (and only what) is described to them the way it is described. So, for example, the human camera cannot say an object is a flower or has a stem. Instead, the human camera might say there is a long forest green rectangle about three inches long with three bumps on the right side. On the rectangle’s left side is a green oval with jagged edges. On the top of the rectangle, there is a bright yellow circle with five long, thin white ovals circling around it. See what “develops” as you draw!
Also, talk about what you don’t see, hear, and feel. Observing and becoming aware of what is not there can be just as, if not sometimes more, awe-inspiring and curiosity provoking.
For a couple of resources on teaching children mindfulness, check out the MindUp Curriculum from Scholastic and the book Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children.
After you’ve taken some time to just take it in, take a photo, make a recording of unique sounds, or simply write down your reflections on the experience. We invite you to post it to the We’ll Eat You Up We Love You So Facebook page, to your Twitter account, or to your Instagram account with the hashtag #outdoorsfamilychallenge! At the end of the week, we’ll be giving away a copy of Vitamin N to a random participant courtesy of the Children and Nature Network.