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  • Blog
  • by: Anne-Marie Spencer
  • May 18, 2020

Let’s go outside: Creative ways to engage responsibly

Most older adults can remember playing outdoors with best friends, imaginatively enjoying the wonders of the world around us. Elements of nature created magical expressions of childhood musings about our world as we experienced the universal delights of discovery and fascination that were set free by boundless imaginations and unstructured play in nature — even in a few square feet.

Today, those feelings are more important than ever as we learn to deal with new circumstances and boundaries in our world. New health research recognizes everyday outdoor play in nature as a powerful preventive strategy for healthy childhood and family development.

A generation ago playing outdoors in nature was usually taken for granted, but times have changed. Let’s face it, we need the outdoors more than ever. According to the research in NatureGrounds, Creating and Retrofitting Play Environments, being in nature can:

- Reduce attention deficit disorder symptoms in children

- Produce feelings of peace, self-control, and self-discipline 

- Reduce stress in children 

- Increase children’s ability to focus and enhances their cognitive abilities

- Develop capacities for creativity, problem solving, and intellectual & emotional development

- Motivate children to be more physically active and civil to one another

So how can we reap these benefits while still following the current guidelines for being outside? Whether or not you have a yard, there are a variety of things you can do, including:

-Get the kids involved in gardening. Create a window garden if you don’t have access to an outdoor space.

-Hold a family competition-chalk games on the sidewalk or driveway, or come up with other fun family games you can play outdoors. 

-Create chalk drawings on the sidewalk to cheer passers by.

-Walk around the block or to the nearest park if allowed.

-Take pictures of flowers, street trees and other plantings and share them with your family. 

-Find a window. Use it to reflect outward and watch people, birds, whatever is happening. Look for patterns in activity.

Check out National Geographic’s “Finding Urban Nature” guide for COVID-19 appropriate city activities at https://www.nationalgeographic...

Whatever you do, remember, Nature is a powerful tool in our overall health at any time, but especially now. 

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