Tips on how to have fun with Connecting to Nature
Summer School is now well underway, most schools and camps are more than half way through their program. Unfortunately, a lot of children are still being subjected to a lot of lessons and the same old same old teaching structure during this time. Let’s be different, and on our own part encourage our children to love learning, by having fun doing it. So this week we shall be focusing our attention on connecting with nature.
Why connecting with nature, you may rightly ask? Let me tell you a littler story. Just over ten years ago I started the Kidzone Lagos, it is a centre where children come out to play and have fun. We organized special big events during Christmas, Easter, Children’s Day and Independence Day, schools were also invited to bring the children to the centre during term time so that the children could get an opportunity to run around, view nature and connect with the earth. I started this project because I saw a dire situation going bad, as children were locked up at home, watching telly, playing video games; getting no exercise and even worse they had no connection with or to nature. Children today sometimes hardly touch plants, flowers or know what a chicken looks like except on their plate. Surely this is not right. Needless to say it took several years to get parents bringing out their children to have fun, and as for the schools, sadly only a few made it to the centre, and most do not have a playground for the children in their care. I can tell you lots of stories about this, but we’ll leave those stories for another day. Today let’s look at a few things we can do to help the children connect with nature.
Connecting with plants and animals: Take the children on a walk around a garden and talk about the plants, flowers and leaves, you see in the garden. There are lots of things to learn: Are they living or non-living things? What do they need to grow? You can talk about the different parts of plants, flowers, and leaves. The different shapes of leaves is something else you could pay particular attention to, you could teach them the names of some leaf shapes ( Cordate, Linear, Spatula, Ovate, Obovate, Reniform, etc.) the children can do a little project about this by drawing and painting or colouring the different shapes, leaf rubs, leaf painting work and the list goes on. The children are engaged learning, broadening their knowledge about things around them and most of all will be having fun.
You could also take the children to visit a farm, or an animal resort centre before planning a visit to the shopping mall or cinema (especially if you are a school), not that there is anything wrong with these activities, but this is usually where they go to on outings with their parents anyway! So let’s expand their experiences and introduce them to the natural world, which in many towns and cities is fast receding into the background.
Places you may want to visit include: The Farm Center Agege, Shodex Garden at Antony, Lufasi Park Lekki and the Lekki Conservation Center
Another important thing you can do is plant something together and watch it grow. Children love this activity, a bean or corn seed is all you need with some good soil and water in a container and a new plant is born.
Something else you may want to do is get them outside daily exercising. This is so important and yet in so many establishments around the nation, children do not go out and play. One bonus the State Schools have is land, and the children do run around a lot during their break times. Private schools may not have much land, but please they should have enough outside space and some play equipment to help develop the gross motor skills of the children. The fresh air and sun on their skin is all part of connecting with nature. Another activity they can do outside is swimming or learning how to swim. If a swimming pool and a qualified swimming instructor are available let the children have fun connecting with nature, I am sure you will be creating lasting memories of a great summer school experience for the children.